Lonely Planet Writer

End of roaming fees in Europe - but check your phone plan before posting holiday snaps on Instagram

Good news for European jet-setters – those pesky roaming fees will no longer apply as your travel around the EU. Europeans will be able to “roam like at home” as they travel, as changes announced by the EU back in 2015 have finally come into effect.

Woman outdoors on her mobile phone by the Eiffel Tower.
Chat away while on vacation – the EU has gotten rid of roaming charges. Image by Sam Edwards/Getty Images

According to the new guidelines, communications like phone calls and text messages made from another EU country will be included in Europeans’ existing phone plans, helping frequent travellers avoid “bill shock”.

Data used abroad will come from your plan at home – however there is a “fair use” stipulation, which means operators are able to impose limits on how much data you can use, based on your mobile plan. So before you start posting every holiday snap to Instagram, it’s important to find out what your provider will charge for data use, as the cost of going over can hit €7.7 per gigabyte, plus VAT. If you have a plan with very little data and rely on Wi-Fi at home, then Wi-Fi is your best bet abroad to avoid running up fees.

Operators will have to alert users if they are getting close to the data limit, but customers should learn what their plan offers to avoid running over. Even if you have unlimited data at home, that may not be the case abroad, as companies can limit your data use to correspond with the value of your phone contract.

The new rules apply for residents of EU countries travelling within the 28 members states of 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 the United Kingdom. The rules will soon be introduced in countries located in the European Economic Area, which are Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

Young man using mobile phone on the street.
Enjoy using your mobile around Europe. Image by Oscar Wong/Getty Images

However, if you move to another European country you will need to get a new plan there, even if your original plan is cheaper. That rule is intended to stop people from setting up their mobile in the cheapest countries in the EU.

BEUC – the European Consumer Organisation – applauded the move, but noted in a statement that in cases when a customer spends more time using their phone abroad than at home, there can still be roaming charges. But the organisation notes that national telecom regulators need to keep a watch on how phone companies implement those rules.