When you travel in the EU, phone calls, SMS and going online with your mobile phone are all covered by your mobile subscription. The minutes of calls, SMS and megabytes of data that a person uses abroad in the EU are charged the same as at home. Since 2017, there is no more fear of returning home to find shocking mobile phone bills!
How Roaming works
The minutes, SMS and gigabytes of data that you consume abroad in the EU are charged or deducted from your mobile subscription plan exactly as if you were at home. For calls and SMS, if a person has an unlimited amount in their plan, they will get unlimited calls and SMS when roaming in the EU.
For data, if a person has unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data at home, their operator may apply a limit on data use, known as the safeguard or 'fair use' limit, while roaming. If this is the case, the operator will inform the customer in advance about such a limit and alert them when they reach this limit.
The EU rules ensure that the roaming data limit should cover most normal data uses. If a person reaches the limit, they can continue to use data while roaming for a very small fee: reduced to 3€/GB (+ VAT) in 2021 and to be further reduced to 2.5€/GB + VAT in 2022.
As long as a person travels periodically and spends more time in his home country than abroad over any 4-month period, they can fully benefit from Roam Like at Home. If a person gets charged extra, they should first contest those charges with their operator, who should have a complaints procedure in place. If the operator persists, the person should refer to the national telecoms regulator, who will settle the case.
If a person stays in another country within the EU longer than in their home country over a few months, the operator may contact them and ask them to pay more.
A very small and decreasing number of operators in the EU have been allowed by the national telecoms regulator to continue applying a small roaming surcharge, in order to avoid negative effects on very low domestic prices. Such surcharges are significantly lower than the ones applied before 15 June 2017.
The Roaming regulation
The current Roaming Regulation is in place until 30 June 2022. On 24 February 2021, the Commission proposed a new Roaming Regulation to extend the rules and introduce new ones to improve the Roam Like at Home experience, while ensuring that roaming without charges is sustainable for operators.