To use your mobile phone when abroad, you need to connect to a local network. The local (or host) operator will then charge your home operator for handling calls, texts and data. This is called roaming.
The Eurotariff caps maximum prices for phone calls made and received while abroad. These price caps are the maximum permissible prices and so operators are free to offer cheaper rates.
Since 1st July 2014, when roaming within the EU, the new maximum limit for calls made is 19 cent + VAT per minute while the maximum limit for calls received is 5 cent + VAT per minute.The maximum amount that can now be charged for data is capped at 20 cent + VAT per Megabyte and SMS text messages at 6 cent + VAT.
The data roaming limit is capped at €50 +VAT, and when you reach this limit you will be asked to expressly confirm that you wish to continue browsing.
Since July 2009 operators are obliged to charge per second but can apply an initial minimum charging period of 30 seconds. Mobile operators are no longer allowed to charge customers for the receipt of a voicemail message while roaming in the EU.
July 2014: How much do I pay?
What you pay for making a call: 19 cent
What you pay for receiving a call: 5 cent per minute
What it costs a friend to call me: The normal charge stated by their operator
Cost of SMS: 6 cent
Data roaming: Maximum 20 cent per MB
(NB: These rates are exclusive of VAT)
- There are several mobile networks in each country.
- When you arrive at your destination, you will probably be automatically connected to one – not necessarily the cheapest one for you.
- Before your trip, check with your mobile provider or ComReg so you can select the best network available as soon as you arrive.
- Consider switching from your current home network to another operator if they have a better deal. Remember the above fees represent the maximum prices operators are permitted to charge. Operators are free to offer cheaper rates.
Proposal to abolish roaming fees across the EU
On April 3rd 2014, the European Parliament voted to abolish roaming charges across the EU as of December 2015. However, the legislation was delayed as national governments could not come to an agreement on the exact terms of the text. On March 4th 2015, the European Council announced that it was sending the proposed legislation back to the European Parliament for further discussion. This means that it is highly unlikely roaming charges will be abolished by the originally agreed date of December 2015.
The Commission will instead be asked to assess the situation by mid-2018, with a view to phasing out roaming charges.In the interim, the Council has proposed an alternative system whereby consumers would be able to make a certain number of calls and texts and use a certain amount of data while roaming without being charged more than the normal tariff they would pay at home. Once these limits are used up, the consumer would then be charged an additional amount – however, the Council specifies that this additional fee would not be higher than the maximum wholesale rate paid by operators for the use of networks in other Member States.
Exact details of this proposed system, including how many calls/texts and data consumers would be able to use without paying a roaming fee, have yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, the above roaming rates (as of July 2014) remain in force across the EU.
The EU Roaming Regulation of 2007 introduced a cap on roaming costs within the EU and provided for further reductions at future dates. In March 2012, the European Parliament, European Council, and the European Commission reached a preliminary deal on new EU Roaming rules, following a Commission proposal the previous year. This agreement came into force on 1st July 2012.
The rates paid by consumers for sending and receiving calls and text messages while roaming in the EU have been gradually reduced over the years, with the most recent reductions taking effect in July 2014.