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EU data roaming charges to end this week: what to look out for

  • EU bans data roaming charges across Europe from June 15.
  • Mobile phone users will not be charged extra for use abroad within the EU.
  • Certain restrictions apply, according to consumer watchdog Which?
Holidaymaker uses her phone at the beach
EyesWideOpen | Getty Images
Holidaymaker uses her phone at the beach

Mobile phone users in Europe will soon be free to use their regular call, text and internet allowances anywhere within the EU at no extra cost under new rules which abolish data roaming charges across the union.

As of Thursday June 15, all mobile network operators in Europe will be prohibited from charging additional fees for overseas use within the EU as part of continued efforts by the EU to forge a Digital Single Market across EU member states.

The rules, which seek to replicate the EU's tariff-free single market for trade, will allow customers to "roam like at home" and should prevent hidden costs when users return home from holiday, according to the European Commission, which first announced the plans in June 2015.

However, consumer watchdog Which? has warned consumers to remain cautious when using their phones abroad in order to avoid any nasty surprises. Here's watch to look out for.

What are roaming charges?

Roaming charges are additional costs charged for making calls, sending texts and using internet data whilst overseas. These apply as soon as a mobile phone connects to a foreign network.

The EU is banning these following on-going demands from the public. These charges have been gradually reducing over recent years, and the EU claims to have trimmed them by 91 percent since 2007.

What countries are included in the ban?

All 28 EU member states are subject to the ban. This currently includes the U.K., though its position may be negotiated once it leaves the EU.

Countries such as Switzerland and Andorra, as well as the Channel Islands, which are not formally part of the EU will not necessarily fall under the rules and will be subject to the discretion of network providers. Turkey, a non-EU member, currently only includes Vodafone in its roaming bundle, according to Which.

What about travel outside of the EU?

The ban only applies in the EU and those travelling further afield can expect to by charged varying costs.

What happens if I run out of minutes, texts or data abroad?

The regulations say that you cannot be charged more for using your phone abroad than you would be your home country. This applied to out-of-bundle costs. This means that you will not be charged any more for going over your contract limit while on holiday than you would be at home – though these costs vary significantly between providers.

What about calling another EU country from home?

When calling the EU from your home you're not technically roaming so providers are free to charge what they like. Again, these costs vary largely from network to network.

Many networks have international call packages, which you can add to your bill for an additional fee.

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