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After a decade-long battle with telecoms operators, the EU has on Thursday (15 June) officially scrapped roaming fees on calls, data and text messages, sent or received on mobiles / Photo: © EC

No more roaming charges in EU – Details of new regulation

People travelling to other EU member states will no longer have to pay extra fees when they use their mobile telephones. After a decade-long battle with telecoms operators, the EU has on Thursday (15 June) officially scrapped roaming fees on calls, data and text messages, sent or received on mobiles.

Frequently Asked Questions on Roam like at home 

In which countries can I roam like at home starting on 15 June?
In all 28 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, United Kingdom.
In the countries of the European Economic Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway roam like at home will be introduced shortly after 15 June.

Is roam like at home automatic or do I have to do something to activate it?
You do not need to set anything up. Your operator will automatically cease to apply the roaming charge when you roam abroad in the EU after 15 June 2017.

Will I get notified on June 15? If so, how?
Yes. Your operator should inform you about the end of roaming charges and how your particular tariff will be affected (e.g. by the fair use policy), and your contract will be adjusted accordingly.
The public information concerning your particular tariff (e.g. on your operator’s website) will also be adapted as regards roaming. When you cross an EU border after 15 June 2017, you will continue to receive an SMS informing you that you are roaming. That SMS will remind you of any fair use policy on roaming applied by your operator.

Are there any exceptions or hidden rules to this new right I have?
You can roam like at home whenever you are in an EU country other than the country where you actually live (your effective home). If you move to and establish a durable residence in another EU country, you will no longer be able to benefit from roam like at home offers from an operator in the country you came from. You will be able to roam like at home with a mobile subscription of your new country of residence when you travel abroad in the EU.

Are there any volume limits to calling, sending SMS and using mobile data at domestic price while I travel?
If at home you have unlimited calls and SMS, you will get unlimited calls and SMS when roaming in the EU.
If at home you have unlimited mobile data or very cheap mobile data, your operator may apply a safeguard (fair use) limit on data use while roaming. If this is the case, the operator will have to inform you in advance about such a limit and have to alert you in case you reach it. That safeguard limit will be high enough to cover most, if not all, of your roaming needs. Beyond this threshold, you can continue data roaming, subject to a small charge (maximum €7.70/GB + VAT; this will decline gradually to reach €2.50/GB as of 2022).

Do my new rights also cover the calls I make from home to friends abroad?
No. Calling from home is not roaming. The new rights cover communications (calls, SMS, data) made when roaming in the EU, which means when travelling abroad in the EU. The prices of calls from home to a foreign country, including in the EU, are not regulated.

How long can I roam like at home when I am abroad?
The general rule is that as long as you spend more time at home than abroad, or you use your mobile phone more at home than abroad, you can roam at domestic prices when travelling wherever in the EU. This is considered a fair use of roaming services.

If this is not the case, your mobile operator may contact you. Operators can detect possible abuses based on the balance of roaming and domestic activity over a four-month period: if you spend a majority of your time abroad and consume more abroad than at home over the four months, the operator can ask you to clarify the situation within 14 days. If you continue roaming more than you are at home, your operator may start applying a small charge to your roaming consumption. This will be capped at 3.2 cents per minute of voice call and 1 cent per SMS. For data, the maximum surcharge will be €7.7 per GB (as of 15 June 2017), falling to €6 per GB (as of 1 January 2018), €4.5 per GB (as of 1 January 2019), €3.5 per GB (as of 1 January 2020), €3 per GB (as of 1 January 2021) and finally €2.5 per GB (as of 1 January 2022).

How will I be able to identify roam like at home tariffs with my local providers?
Roam like at home will be the default roaming tariff on all plans that include roaming. If you currently have a tariff plan including regulated roaming, you will be switched automatically to roam like at home. If you want to buy a new tariff plan that includes roaming after 15 June 2017, your operator will present that tariff plan to you with roam like at home by default.

I have a pre-paid card. Do I get roam like at home?
Yes. If you pay per unit, and your domestic unit price of data is less than €7.7 per GB, your operator may apply a roam like at home volume limit on data. That limit should be at least the volume obtained by dividing the remaining credit on your pre-paid card when you start using data roaming services (excluding VAT) by €7.7. For instance if you have €13 (€10.8 excluding a 20% VAT) left on your SIM card when starting roaming data, you will have at least 10.8/7.7=1.4 GB of roaming data. For your information, €7.7 is in 2017 the maximum price that your operator has to pay the foreign operator for 1 GB of data when you are abroad in the EU. This means that you get in roam like at home exactly the volume of roaming data you have paid for in advance. For voice and SMS, you will pay exactly the same unit price as at home.

I have unlimited voice calls and SMS at home. Do I get unlimited voice calls and SMS in roam like at home?
Yes. Any volume restrictions for voice calls and SMS while roaming are no longer allowed from 15 June 2017.

I live near the border and my network often connects to the one of a neighbouring country, will I be able to roam like at home without any risks of exceeding my limits?
Yes. As long as your phone logs on to your domestic network once a day, you will be considered at home that day and not roaming. It does not matter whether your phone logs on to a network of the neighbouring country in the EU (be it from your country or because you spent part of the day in that foreign country). Roaming providers should also inform you on how to avoid inadvertent roaming.

Sola Jolaoso

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