When you travel outside your home country to another EU country, you don’t have to pay any additional charges to use your mobile phone. This is known as ‘roaming’ or ‘roam like at home’. Your calls (to mobile and fixed phones), text messages (SMS) and data use (web browsing, music and video streaming etc.) are charged at the same price as calls, texts and data within your home country.
The same rule also applies to any calls or text messages you receive while you’re abroad – you are not charged extra to receive calls or texts while roaming, even if the person calling you is using a different service provider.
What is roaming?
Roaming is when you use your mobile phone while occasionally travelling outside the country where you live or have stable links, i.e. you work or study there. So, as long as you spend more time at home than abroad, or you use your mobile phone more at home than abroad, you are considered to be roaming. You will therefore be charged domestic prices for your calls, text and data use in the EU. This is considered a “fair use of roaming services”.
Whenever you cross a border within the EU, you should get a text message from your mobile operator informing you that you are roaming, and reminding you of its fair use policy.
In which countries can I ‘roam like at home’?
In all 27 countries of the EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and in the countries of the European Economic Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
What does a fair use policy mean?
In order for roaming customers to have access to the “roam like at home” rules Mobile operators can apply a “fair use policy”. This means that your mobile operator may apply fair and proportionate limits to avoid customers abusing the rules.
When you’re roaming, there are no volume restrictions on your voice calls and text messages (SMS). However, there are rules and limits on how much data you can have charged at your domestic price. These limits depend on the type of contract you have.
In some cases you may have to pay a data roaming surcharge, which will be equal to the EU-wide wholesale data cap. This maximum amount is €2 per GB of data in 2022 plus VAT and it will decrease over time. From 2027 onwards it will be capped at €1 per GB plus VAT.
What if I have a pre-paid service?
If you pay in advance for using your mobile phone, you can use your phone in other EU countries without paying extra. However, if you pay per unit and your domestic unit price for data is less than €2 per GB your mobile operator may apply a data limit while you’re roaming.
If your mobile operator applies a data volume limit, it should be at least the volume obtained by dividing the remaining credit (as soon you start using data roaming services) by €2. You will get the same volume of roaming data that you’ve paid for in advance. You can of course top up your credit while you’re travelling.
Example: If you have €12 (excluding VAT) credit when you start roaming then you can will get at least 6 GB of roaming data (€12 divided by €2 = 6).
If things go wrong
If you think your service provider has not respected your rights, you should contact your operator and use their complaint procedure.
If you are not satisfied with their response you can contact the relevant national regulatory authorities in your country, usually your national telecoms regulator, who will handle your case. In Ireland, this is the Commission for Communications Regulation.