This week, Virgin Mobile and O2 announced their customers will not have to pay extra data roaming charges for using their phones in the EU, despite other major networks reintroducing fees for travellers to Europe. It means that Virgin Mobile and O2 customers will be able to use their mobile data and make calls and texts the same way as they would in the UK.
In this article, we walk through everything you need to know about the reintroduction of data roaming charges in the EU, including which networks are bringing back fees, and when you can expect to start being charged.
EU roaming charges
Mobile phone users were previously able to use their calls, texts and data allowance in any EU country without additional charges after the bloc removed roaming charges in 2017. However, since the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU in December 2020, mobile networks were given the right to reintroduce roaming charges.
A number of popular providers have already announced new charges. Vodafone is to bring back roaming charges at the end of January, EE is expected to follow suit in March, and Three is to reintroduce fees in May. Customers who joined or upgraded their contract with Vodafone after 11 August 2021 will face a £2 daily roaming charge in EU countries. The same fee will apply to EE customers who joined or upgraded the service on 7 July 2021 and Three customers who joined or upgraded after 1 October 2021.
However, there will still be options to reduce the £2 daily fee for Vodafone and EE customers. Vodafone users will be able to pay £1 a day for either an 8 or 15-day pass, while EE users will be able to purchase a 30-day pass for £10.
Charges by provider
Different providers have different policies on EU roaming charges. To make matters easier, we’ve rounded up what you can expect from the 10 most popular networks in the UK, including whether you have to pay extra to use your data in the EU, how much it will cost you, and when the charges will become effective.
|Network provider||EU roaming charges*||Cost||Effective from|
|EE||£2 per day (or a 30-day pass for £10)||3 March 2022|
|Three||£2 per day||23 May 2022|
|Vodafone||£2 per day (or £1 per day for an 8 or 15-day pass)||31 January 2022|
*Note that EU roaming charges do not include Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein - individual providers have different rates for these countries. Some providers, including Virgin Mobile, also issue separate rates for Switzerland. Fees correct as of 10/01/22.
International roaming charges
The roaming charges above do not apply for those travelling outside of the EU. Unless otherwise stated by your provider, you will be charged for calls, texts and mobile data to use your phone.
The vast majority of network providers include daily or metered fees, so make sure to check your contract to find out exactly what you can expect for international usage, as the charges can differ significantly. For example, Virgin Mobile users on a pay monthly contract have to pay £5 per MB of data in the United States, whereas O2 customers on a pay monthly contract have to pay £4.99 per day for unlimited data usage.
If you are planning to use your mobile overseas, check out our tips on how to reduce the cost of using your phone abroad.
How to switch your mobile network provider
For those that are interested in changing their provider, check out our guide on how to switch your mobile network provider with just a text message.