Last checked: 18/10/2022
FAQs - Roaming: Using a mobile phone in the EU
Will it be free when I travel and use my mobile phone in the EU?YES. Your communications (phone calls, text messages, data use) made from another EU country will be covered in your national contract. So the minutes, SMS and GB of data that you use in another EU country will be charged at the rates in your national tariff plan, or deducted from the national volumes in your contract, exactly as if you were in your home country.
Am I automatically allowed to roam in the EU at domestic prices, or do I have to do something to activate it?You do not need to set anything up. Your operator should automatically give you access to roaming in the EU at domestic prices.
I'm going to work in Hungary for 6 months. Can I use my German mobile phone while I'm there? Is this still considered roaming, or will I have to pay extra for my calls, texts and data?As you're moving to Hungary for 6 months, you may want to consider buying a local Hungarian sim card for your phone.
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 pay your standard domestic prices for your calls, texts and data services when you travel in the EU. This is considered a fair use of roaming services.
In order to check if this is the case, your operator may check your roaming time and consumption over the last 4 consecutive months. If, during this time window, you have been in another EU country than at home AND you've used mobile services more in another EU country than in your home country, your mobile operator can contact you and inform you that you may be subject to charges if you continue to stay abroad.
If, within two weeks from the moment you receive the warning, you start using your phone more in your home country you won't be charged. Otherwise, your operator may start applying the following charges to your roaming consumption from the day of the alert onwards:
- €0.022 per minute for voice calls (+ VAT)
- €0.004 per SMS (+ VAT)
- €2 per GB of data (+ VAT)
I live in Belgium and my daughter is going to Germany to study for 4 months. Are my calls to her also covered by the roaming rules?NO. Calling another EU country from home is not roaming, so you are not covered by the same rules. However, intra-EU calls (to mobiles and fixed-line phones) and texts (SMS) are also capped under EU rules. This means that when you call your daughter in Germany you'll be charged at a maximum of €0.19 a minute (+ VAT), and when you send a text message it will cost you a maximum of €0.06 (+ VAT) per SMS.
My contract includes 3GB of data. Can I use all of this allowance when I go on holiday in the EU?YES. Unless your mobile operator has explicitly told you that you have a roaming data limit, you can use the full amount of data under your domestic contract when you go to another EU country.
Your operator can only apply a roaming data limit if you pay less than €1/GB.
In my contract I have unlimited voice calls, text messages and data at home. Are they also unlimited when I travel in the EU?YES. Your calls and texts (SMS) will also be unlimited when you travel in the EU, and, as your contract includes unlimited data, your operator must provide you with a large volume data when you are roaming. Your mobile operator should always tell you how much your roaming data allowance is, but the exact amount you have depends on the how much you pay for your contract. It must be at least twice the volume obtained by dividing the price of your mobile contract (excluding VAT) by €2 (the maximum price that your operator has to pay the foreign operator for 1 GB of data when you use your phone in another EU country).
For example, you pay €40 (excluding VAT) for your mobile bundle with unlimited calls, SMS and data. When you roam in the EU, you get unlimited calls and SMS and at least 40 GB of data (2 x (€40 / €2) = 40).
If you use more data while roaming than your data allowance foresees, you may have to pay an extra €2 per GB of data (+ VAT).
I use a pre-paid card for my phone. Can I still use it while I'm in another EU country on holiday?YES. You will pay exactly the same rates for calls and texts (SMS) when you travel in the EU as you do in your home country. For data, if you pay per GB, and the price you pay is less than €2 per GB, your operator may apply a roaming volume limit for data. That limit should be at least the volume obtained by dividing the remaining credit on your pre-paid card by €2 when you start using data roaming services. For example, if you have €12 left on your SIM card when you start roaming, you will have at least 6 GB of roaming data (€12 / €2 = 6).
I'm going on a week-long cruise around the Mediterranean. Will I be able to use my mobile phone on board at the same prices as I do at home?YES, but be careful! As long as your mobile phone is connected to a terrestrial mobile network (e.g. on rivers, lakes or along the coast) in an EU country you will be "roaming" and therefore you can call, text and use data services at the same prices as you do at home. However, EU roaming rules only apply to terrestrial mobile networks. So, if, during your cruise, your mobile phone services are provided through other types of radio networks, such as via the ship's satellite systems, your calls, texts and data are not subject to the EU's binding price caps and you could be charged (a lot) extra. If you want to avoid extra charges, it is safer to deactivate roaming on your device or activate flight mode while you're at sea.
I live in Spain near the French border and my phone often connects to a French network instead of my Spanish one. Will this mean I use up my roaming limits?NO. As long as your phone logs on to your domestic network once a day, you are considered at home that day and not roaming. Your provider should explain to you how you can avoid inadvertent roaming.