ComReg’s top tips for using your mobile abroad

  1. Get to know your phone – Be familiar with the settings on your phone. You can turn off the data roaming function on your handset or ask if your mobile provider can do this for you. This will make sure you can only access data services when connected to a Wi-Fi zone.  Many cafés, bars and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi services to their customers.
  2. Background data use – Remember that smartphone apps use data in the background even when you are not actively doing anything on your phone.  For example, apps on your phone may update to the latest version.  You can turn-off automatic app updates in your handset settings.
  3. Check when you turn your phone on again – If you switch your handset off and back on again, be careful to check your roaming settings as they may default back to the original setting.
  4. Talk to your mobile provider – Ask your mobile provider how you can best monitor your real time usage when you’re abroad.  You may be able to monitor your usage by downloading your mobile provider’s app or texting a key word to a particular number.  But remember to check if the usage information is provided to you in real time – especially if you are travelling outside the EU.
  5. Read information texts – Pay attention to the texts that you receive from your provider and read them.  Don’t ignore what these say!
  6. Know your MBs and GBs – Know the difference of being charged per MB and per GB – there are 1,000MBs in 1GB.  Pay special attention not to confuse the two, so you are fully aware of your data roaming allowance.
  7. Avoid using large files – Avoid streaming things like music or films and avoid using mobile maps for directions because these can run up very large bills.
  8. Use a PIN or passcode – Take the time to properly secure your mobile handset with a PIN or passcode.  Update your emergency contact on your home screen.  Make a note of your mobile handset serial number (IMEI number) by pressing *#06# on your handset.
  9. Use an app that can find your phone – Download an app that can trace your phone and delete its data if it is lost or stolen.
  10. Contact your provider immediately if your phone is lost or stolen – Contact your mobile provider immediately with your IMEI number if your handset is lost or stolen.  Thieves can quickly run up huge bills which you may be responsible for if you do not take swift action.
  11. Take note of emergency numbers – Know the number for emergency services: 112 in the EU and 911 in the USA and Canada.  If you are travelling elsewhere, check locally for the relevant number.


See our guide on roaming
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