Accessing online content abroad
Affected by Brexit?
When you travel to another EU country, you have the right to access your paid-for online content services in the same way as you would in your home country. This means, for example, that if you pay for a subscription to an online TV content provider, when you travel to another EU country you can watch and download the same films and TV series as you would at home.
The same rules apply to all your paid subscriptions for online content, such as e-books, games, music and sports events.
If you have a contract with an online content provider which limits your access in other EU countries or if you had to pay extra to access content while abroad, these restrictions no longer apply.
Accessing free online content abroad
EU rules also cover free subscriptions to online content when you travel to another EU country, but on an optional basis. This means that access to your free online content services when you're abroad depends on your service provider.
Checking your EU country of residence
Your content provider is allowed to use up to 2 of the following ways to check your EU country of residence:
- your ID card or another electronic means of identification
- your payment details, such as your bank account or credit/debit card number
- the address where you have a set-top box, decoder or similar device installed
- your payment of a licence fee for services such as public service broadcasting, in your EU country of residence
- an internet or telephone contract, or another similar type of contract, in your EU country of residence
- your registration on local electoral rolls
- your payment of local taxes
- a utility bill from your EU country of residence
If needed, your content provider may also use one of the following ways to check your EU country of residence, but only in combination with one of the other methods listed above:
- your billing address or postal address
- a self-declaration confirming your address in your EU country of residence
- your IP address (to check where you accessonline content from)
You can access your paid online content while travelling in Europe
Sarah, a student in Belgium, paid 10 EUR a month for a subscription to an online music streaming service so she could listen to music on her tablet. When she went on an Erasmus placement to Spain for 3 months, her provider stopped her access, giving the reason that she was no longer living in Belgium.
Sarah complained to the provider and they checked her place of residence. They realised that she was still a Belgian resident as her stay abroad was only temporary, and gave her back full access to the music streaming service.
Access to the same content wherever you are
Your content provider is not allowed to charge you extra for providing access to content you already have a paid subscription for while you're in another EU country. You should also have access under the same conditions as in your home country – i.e. access to the same content, on the same range and number of devices, for the same number of users and with the same functionalities.
Your content provider is also not allowed to deliberately reduce the quality of the content you receive while you're abroad. However, you should keep in mind that the quality of your online content will also depend on the network you use to access your content (such as a Wi-Fi connection or 3G/4G network).
Accessing online content using a 3G/4G network while you're in another EU country will be taken as part of your data usage in your mobile phone contract. Read more about EU roaming rules