Roaming charges after Brexit

Want the lowdown on data roaming? Here’s what you need to know about using your mobile phone in Europe.

Want the lowdown on data roaming? Here’s what you need to know about using your mobile phone in Europe.

Written by
Holly Cox
Insurance expert
Last Updated
7 min read
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What is data roaming?

When you use your mobile phone abroad to access the internet, it uses mobile network data in that country. That’s called data roaming. Every time you connect to the internet to check your email, Facebook account or to use Google Maps, for example, you’re using data.

But it’s not just the internet - every time you connect to another network abroad to make a call or text, you’re roaming. And since Brexit, you’ll no longer be covered for free roaming under EU legislation, so you may face higher charges for using your phone in Europe.

While you’re abroad, it can be tempting to use data to upload your latest holiday pictures to social media, stream your favourite TV shows, or create a personal hotspot. But before you do any of this, there are a few things you should know and check, so you don’t end up with a large mobile bill.

How have data roaming charges changed since Brexit?

When the UK left the EU, UK mobile users lost access to EU free roaming rules, which ban mobile network providers from levying additional roaming charges in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA). The guarantee of free roaming for UK mobile users in 27 destinations in the EU, plus EEA countries Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, ended at the close of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021.

Now, instead of being able to ‘roam like you’re at home’ (use your minutes, text and data as if you’re in the UK) it’s up to the individual phone operators to decide what they’ll charge for cross-border calls, texts and data usage. You’ll have to check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you’ll face while travelling.

There were initially some protections in place for UK mobile phone users going abroad after Brexit. The UK government made a temporary law that customers had to be told when they have used up 80% and 100% of their data allowance. The government also introduced a ruling that stopped you from being hit with more than £45 of mobile data charges in your monthly bill, unless you actively opted in to continue using data when abroad.

However, as of 1 July 2022, these protections no longer apply. Although major networks signalled that they would continue to follow these rules voluntarily, there’s no guarantee they will. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be extra careful about using your phone abroad to avoid a big bill when you get home.

Can I use my mobile in the EU?

Yes, you can use your mobile for calls, texts and to access the internet in the EU, it’s just that you might have to pay additional charges for roaming.

Always check what your phone operator is likely to charge you before you set off. Some providers offer additional data roaming as part of their contract deals – and not just for the EU. You may have to change or update your settings in the UK before you travel.

Is free roaming likely to return?

No, not as a universal benefit. It’ll be up to individual mobile phone operators to decide what version of roaming they want to offer and whether they’ll allow free roaming or not.

So what happens now when I want to use my mobile abroad?

There’s no longer a difference between using your mobile in the EU and in the rest of the world – you can be charged for roaming everywhere outside of the UK. However, each operator may have different rules for different regions and countries.

Roaming charges can be high when travelling, and you may want to talk to your provider, or check their website, to understand the best available deal for the places you're travelling to. Your provider may offer special add-ons, or plans with free roaming or roaming allowances built in, including some designed for frequent travellers. If you’re a frequent traveller to Europe, for business or pleasure, you may want to review your options post-Brexit and see if the plan you’re on still suits you.

Although most providers have signalled their intention to continue sending customers a message notifying you of basic pricing information upon entry to another country, it’s important to be aware that this is no longer required by law and cannot be relied upon. That’s why it’s so important to do your research before you travel.

What are the mobile networks doing about roaming?

Initially, the UK’s big four mobile network operators kept free data roaming in the EU after Brexit. However, after EE broke ranks, other mobile networks quickly followed suit. Now O2 is the only major network to allow their customers to use their domestic allowances in Europe at no extra cost. EE, Three and Vodafone have all brought in data roaming charges that will affect new mobile customers travelling in the EU.

If data roaming is important to you, weigh up your options when deciding which provider to use long term. Otherwise, you need to consider what the best options are for each trip you take abroad. Options can include buying a roaming add-on for your trip or upgrading your plan to one that includes roaming data as standard.

We’ve had a look at the latest data roaming offers from the four major UK mobile networks to help you compare your options. All details are correct at the time of writing, but offers do change, so make sure you check your provider’s website before you travel.


Vodafone’s roaming services vary depending on the plan you’re on. Bear with us because it gets a little complicated…

For pay monthly customers, travel destinations are split between four ‘zones’:

  • Zone A - Ireland and Isle of Man
  • Zone B - 49 European destinations
  • Zone C - 32 worldwide destinations
  • Zone D - 73 worldwide destinations
  • Rest of the world – any destinations not covered by Zones A, B, C and D.

For pay as you go customers, countries are grouped into Zone A, Zone B, ‘around the world’ – which covers 73 of the destinations in Zones C and D – and the ‘rest of the world’ where rates vary per country.

Full details of zone destinations can be found here.

Here’s a breakdown of each zone’s roaming charges for pay monthly Vodafone customers who started on or after 11 August 2021:

Your Plan Zone
All pay monthly plans started on or after 11 August 2021, not covered below Included £2 per day £6 per day £6 per day
Limited data Xtra plans with 4 Xtra benefits Included Included £6 per day £6 per day
Unlimited data Xtra Airtime plans with 4 Xtra benefits Included Included Included £6 per day

For Vodafone customers whose plan started before 11 August 2021, the above charges won’t apply. You can check how much you’ll be charged for roaming in the Vodafone app, or by using their online chat function.

Pay monthly customers whose plan does not include roaming in Europe Zone B can save on roaming charges by purchasing a European roaming pass, costing £8 for eight days or £15 for 15 days.

Pay as you go Vodafone customers can roam for free in Zone A. For roaming in Europe Zone B and ‘around the world’ destinations, you will need to purchase an add-on, with prices starting from £3 for up to eight days in Europe.


If you’re travelling in the over 40 destinations within O2’s ‘Europe Zone’, you’ll be able to use your data, texts and even minutes in exactly the same way as you would in the UK. But you’ll need to stay within the fair use data cap of 25GB per month, even if you have a larger monthly data allowance. You’ll also face surcharges if you roam in Europe for more than 63 days in a four-month period.

If you’re travelling outside O2’s ‘Europe Zone’, the O2 Travel Inclusive Zone Bolt On allows you to go roaming in 27 locations outside of Europe, including Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand, as long as you’re on certain SIM-only and O2 Refresh tariffs. With the travel inclusive add-on you get a daily allowance for texts, minutes and data.

If you’re not eligible, you can opt to pay a single, fixed daily rate of £6 for the O2 Travel Bolt On, which will give you as much data as you want, plus unlimited calls and texts. However, data speeds could vary.


EE were the first major UK mobile network to announce that they would start charging their new mobile customers for data roaming. New customers and existing EE customers whose mobile phone plan started on or after 7 July 2021 will be charged £2 per day to use their data, minutes or text allowances in the 47 countries and territories covered by their EU roaming zone. Other roaming costs depend on where you’re going and which plan you’re on.

People who took out an EE plan before 7 July 2021 won’t be affected by the new charges and can continue to use their minutes, texts and data allowances across the EU in the same way they would at home. Visitors to the Republic of Ireland won’t have to pay the charges as long as they stay within their normal EE allowance, regardless of when they took out their plan.

If you’re heading abroad for more than five days in a month, EE offer an add-on to help you cut down on roaming costs. With their ‘Roam Abroad Pass’ you can use your data, call and text allowances as normal in their European roaming zone, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand for an additional £10 a month.


Three’s Go Roam service lets you use your call, text and data allowance in destinations around the world for a fixed charge, per 24-hour period. You’ll pay a daily roaming charge of £2 in Europe and £5 for selected countries outside of Europe, including Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

If you’re travelling to a destination not covered by Three’s Go Roam service, you’ll be charged standard roaming rates for the country you’re visiting in, as detailed on Three’s website.

What about fair use policies for data roaming?

If a provider has a fair use policy, you may be charged more than usual. To avoid this, make sure you know what roaming product your provider offers before heading abroad. For example:

  • If you’re an EE pay monthly customer with a data allowance of over 50GB, you’ll face surcharges for data you use over 50GB, according to EE’s fair use policy.
  • If you’re an O2 customer, you’ll face a 25GB fair use data cap when using your phone in Europe, even if your domestic data allowance is greater. As it stands, you’ll pay £3.50 per GB, once you’ve passed the 25GB cap.
  • Three’s fair use policy allows you to use 12GB of data in their ‘Go Roam in Europe’ and Go Roam ‘Around the World’ destinations. You’ll pay a surcharge on any data you use over the fair usage cap.
  • If you’re on one of Vodafone’s pay monthly plans, you can use up to 25GB of data per month when you’re abroad, even if your UK data allowance is greater.

Make sure you follow any instructions from your mobile provider about how to switch on any roaming package correctly. If you’re close to reaching your data limit, your provider is no longer required by law to send a notification informing you of the additional costs that will be applied if you continue to use data services, but some providers may continue to do this as a gesture of transparency. Many also offer ways to check how close to your limit you are – for example, by text.

How else can you avoid roaming charges when travelling abroad?

It might be worth considering buying a SIM for the country you’re visiting, rather than paying your mobile provider’s roaming charges.

Also, be careful in places close to the borders of your provider’s free-usage areas, to make sure you’re not using a provider just the other side of the border. The UK networks are no longer required to keep measures in place to help their customers avoid accidental roaming so unfortunately, that’s now up to you to monitor.

How will EU nationals travelling to the UK be affected?

How much EU nationals will now pay for calls, texts and mobile data in the UK will depend on their operator. EU nationals coming to the UK should check with their network provider, before travelling.

How do I compare mobile phone deals?

It’s a good idea to shop around to find the mobile phone deal that could best suit you. Use our mobile comparison service to compare quotes.

Frequently asked questions

Do calls to the EU from the UK count as data roaming?

Any calls or texts you make from the UK to the EU or another international destination are not classed as roaming because you will be using your home mobile network.

Check your provider’s website for price details, or if in doubt, call them to clarify costs before making any international calls.

How can I find out how much my mobile provider charges for roaming?

Under Ofcom rules, your mobile network provider must provide details of their standard roaming charges on their website. If you’re at all unclear, call your provider before you travel to discuss what charges will apply to you.

Can my mobile network provider change their data roaming charges at any time?

If your mobile phone provider decides to change certain terms of your mobile contract, such as upping their data roaming charges, they must notify you at least one month before the changes come into effect and give you the chance to leave your contract if you decide it’s not for you.

But they don’t have to tell you in advance about any changes that are:

  • Purely administrative or have no effect on you
  • Made exclusively to benefit you as a customer
  • Due to a change in UK law.

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