From 15 June of 2017, due to a decade-long battle by Brussels and a European Union new regulation, the European telecom operators (finally) come to an end of roaming fees. You know, these huge extra charges for making calls, sending texts and using data when in a foreign country. However, regarding the Internet mobile data, there remain some traps. Be careful to verify your mobile plan’s specificities before going on holidays in the EU.
These changes apply only to EU citizens and residents. Foreign tourists who come to stay in Europe are obviously not concerned by this new regulation.
1. Calls, SMS/MMS
Very good news for European consumers: no more extra costs for calls and sending of SMS/MMS during your trips in Europe. Significant change with perfect timing just few weeks before summer holidays. Thus, no longer need for travelers to switch off your phone or counting the seconds when you make a phone call.
Be careful however: calls, SMS and MMS from your country of origin remain overtaxed. You can call from the UE countries to your country of origin but not the reverse. Except if your mobile plan was already offering this kind of service with no limit.
2. Geographical exceptions
Be also vigilant to the list of eligible countries for this new regulation. This list may vary according to your telecom operator. But for sure, all the countries located outside the European Economic area are not part of it. Thus, the roaming fees still operate in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Faeroe island, Georgia, Armenia, Macedonia or even Moldova. However, some countries that are not members of the EU such as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, are well covered by the end of roaming for all operators.
Regarding Monaco, Andorra, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Vatican, you must see with your relative operator.
Be careful also when you will travel by sea, with ferry or if you are close to a country border.
3. Internet mobile data
For mobile Internet usage, there is not a really “end of roaming” yet. Indeed, the situation is different according to each operator and according to your usual mobile plan.
The purpose is to down count the data used in the EU from your usual mobile plan, with a ceiling to not exceed. There are two methods of calculation to find the amount of this celling:
- For mobile plans with unlimited data, the maximum envelope of data usable abroad depends on the plan rate. To find the amount of the ceiling, you can divide the plan rate without VAT by 7.70 and multiply the result by two. For example, with an unlimited plan at 30€ including VAT (25€ without VAT) you will have [(25/7,7) x2=6,5] 6,5GB of data/month in EU
- For limited mobile plans, in most cases the above calculation is also working. If not, especially for low-coast offers or which having benefit of a promotion, the operator fixes a definitive ceiling of “reasonable use”
In case of the upper ceiling is exceeded, the use will be charged.
Furthermore, some operators have already started to offer new mobile plans with a higher amount of usable data for Europe.
4. Limits for frequent travelers
For people who need to travel regularly in Europe, operators reserve the right to charge the use of Internet data usage and calls/SMS/MMS in case of abusive use.
To be charged, you have to use more of data in Europe than in your country of origin for 4 consecutive months. After that, the rates will be 3,2 cents without VAT per minute, 1 cent for a SMS and 7.7 € per GB of data..
Thus, for your long journey in Europe, it will be safely to choose rather a third-party solution such as buying a local SIM card or renting a pocket wifi.