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Roaming in the EU

Since June 2017, Irish consumers travelling within any EU country have been able to use their mobile phone to ‘Roam like at home’.

 

This means that you can make and receive calls, and send and receive text messages in the same way you do when at home in the Republic of Ireland.  It doesn’t matter which mobile network that you are connected to.

 

The EU countries where you can ‘Roam like at home’:

AustriaFinlandLiechtensteinSlovakia
BelgiumFranceLithuaniaSlovenia
BulgariaGermanyLuxembourgSpain
CroatiaGreeceMaltaSweden
Czech RepublicHungaryNorwayThe Netherlands
CyprusIcelandPolandUnited Kingdom
DenmarkItalyPortugal
EstoniaLatviaRomania

As Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are part of the European Economic Area they are also covered by the ‘Roam like at home’ rules.

Similarly, you can also use some or all of your data allowance while roaming in the countries listed above.  In some case, mobile providers will allow you to use your full data allowance while roaming.  In other cases, providers are putting in place a ‘fair-usage policy’.  This limits the amount of data you can use from your domestic bundle.  Your domestic bundle is the normal phone service package that is included in your phone contract when you are at home.

Mobile providers decide these limits based on your domestic bundle and the type of contract (bill pay or prepay) and data allowance it includes.

The amounts below are the most you can be charged when roaming in the EU and you have used up your domestic bundle:

  • 3.2 cents per minute of voice call made (plus VAT)
  • 1 cent per text message (plus VAT)
  • €4.50 per gigabyte (GB) of data (plus VAT).

You may be unsure what your roaming data allowance is, but your mobile phone provider will confirm this for you by text when you arrive at your EU destination.  You can also check this allowance in advance of travel by contacting your mobile provider.

 

What alerts can I expect to receive when roaming in the EU?

There are a number of text messages or text alerts that you can expect to receive from your mobile provider when you roam within the EU.  Pay attention to these alerts as they will provide you with important information and help you to manage your roaming usage.

When you arrive

When you arrive at your EU destination, you will receive a text message from your mobile provider.  This sets out the various costs that will apply while you are roaming.  It will include any extra charges for using your phone outside your normal at-home plan allowances.

It will also specify the amount of data you can use from your at-home allowance and any charge that will apply if you use more than this.

This text message should also include:

  • a free phone number for your mobile provider that you can use if you need to call for more information
  • the number for the emergency services in the country you are visiting.

When you have used up your allowance

When you have used up your data allowance, you will automatically receive a text message telling you how much more you will have to pay if you continue to use data services.  You will then be asked to confirm if you wish to continue data roaming.

 

How much data am I likely to use?

There are 1,000 megabytes (MB) in 1 gigabyte (GB).

ActivityDurationData Usage
Browsing on Social Media1 hourApproximately 90MB
Streaming TV1 hourA typical Standard Definition (SD) streaming television service can use up to 700MB. High Definition (HD) uses up to 3GB and Ultra HD uses up to 7GB
Live Streaming1 hourA typical hour of live TV streaming will use around 540MB of data for SD and 1.8GB for HD content.

 

If you continue roaming when your allowance is used up

If you choose to continue roaming after using up your data roaming allowance, you will also receive alerts when you have reached 80% and 100% of a €50.00 plus VAT (or €61.50 including VAT) spend.  This is based on a monthly billing period.

You will automatically receive these alerts unless you have requested not to receive them.  When you receive the 100% warning text message, you will have to opt-in by return text message to continue to use data services.

 

Be careful to watch your roaming

However, be warned, if you do continue to use the service, the mobile provider does not have to send you any more alerts about how much you are spending.

In summary, these are the text message alerts you can expect to receive when roaming in the EU:

Text 1Welcome message telling you how much data you can use when roaming without paying anything extra
Text 2Message telling you when you have used up your data allowance
Text 3A message telling you when you have spent €49.20 (including VAT), which is 80% of €61.50, on data
Text 4A message telling you when you have spent €61.50 (including VAT) on data

Please remember to take the necessary precautions to limit or control your roaming usage.

 

Alternative roaming tariffs

Some mobile providers offer discounted roaming rates when travelling to certain countries.  These are known as ‘alternative roaming tariffs’.  Your mobile provider will automatically charge you the ‘Roam like at home’ prices unless you choose to opt for one of their alternative roaming tariffs.

Depending on your individual contract or mobile plan these alternative roaming tariffs may be cheaper or more expensive.  You can choose the roaming tariff plan that best suits your roaming needs.  If you are unsure which one is the most suitable, your mobile provider should be able to help you with this.

 

Next week’s consumer news item

In next week’s consumer news item we will continue our roaming advice series and provide you with some useful information on roaming outside of the EU.

 

See also last week’s news item on roaming

Using your mobile phone abroad