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Roaming charges in Europe post-Brexit

Brexit took effect on the 31st January 2020, when both the UK and the EU signed the Withdrawal Agreement. We are now in a transition period lasting until at least 31st December 2020 and, during this time, everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel without any changes. When the transition period ends, we could see some changes to how people are charged for using their mobile phone abroad. If you regularly work within Europe, you may be asking yourself how Brexit will affect UK business travellers working abroad. Similarly, if you are a tourist planning to travel to Europe you may be concerned about the risk of mobile roaming charges increasing post-Brexit!

Back in June 2017, the European Union scrapped additional charges for roaming on smartphones when travelling within its area. Since then, UK mobile phone users have been able to use their phone, as usual, without any extra charges to their tariff. Unfortunately, the process of leaving the EU has been more staggered and drawn out than many expected, meaning that this legislation is open to change and roaming charges could increase after the Brexit transition period.

Holiday Extras Gadget Travel Insurance

If you are planning a trip and are keen to keep your mobile phone protected along the journey then check out Holiday Extras' travel insurance with Gadget cover included as standard with our Platinum level cover, providing up to £750 in cover, which is perfect for travellers looking for top of the range cover levels for themselves and their tech!

We have four levels of travel insurance cover available, and you could add Enhanced Gadget cover to either your Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum policy to give you extra cover for an additional premium. Depending on the level of Enhanced Gadget protection you choose, you could have up to £3,000 in cover for your devices.

Will roaming charges return after Brexit?

The good news is that current EU regulations will continue to apply until the end of 2020 but many people have been asking whether or not pricey roaming charges will return after this transition period.

According to the UK Government website from 1st January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end. It's a good idea to check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1st January 2021.

A new law means that you're protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you're abroad - your phone operator will let you know how to do this.

What will happen to roaming charges after Brexit?

What have networks said about roaming charges after Brexit?

Several UK companies have actually said they may continue to offer the benefit of free roaming to their customers which is great news; including Three and Smarty (which is owned by Three). These two providers have categorically ruled out reintroducing roaming charges after Brexit. In a statement Three said free roaming will remain regardless of Brexit negotiations and customers will be able to use their usual allowances when travelling within the EU.

Mobile phone companies including Vodafone and 02 have specified that they don't plan to make changes and are working closely with the Government and other European operators to try and protect the current arrangements. Virgin Mobile have assured their customers that they are monitoring the progress of Brexit negotiations closely and will notify them in advance of any changes to its roaming policy after Brexit.

Mobile-network giant, EE, have issued a statement on their website surrounding the on-going debate regarding post-Brexit roaming charges, stating that they don't wish for anything to change:

    "We've been having positive conversations with [their] European partners for over a year to ensure [they] can continue to provide inclusive roaming" and "[they'll] continue those discussions and negotiations, so the great experience you enjoy today continues".

It's essential you check for updates with your current phone provider if you're planning a trip to Europe and would like to enjoy carefree browsing whilst you're there!

All information correct as of February 2020. Sources: the UK Government website and EE website.

Further Guides on Brexit

If you found this page on Brexit and data roaming charges useful, then enjoy a few of our other top Brexit guides for further helpful information.

Holiday Extras Travel Insurance is sold and administered by Holiday Extras Cover Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under registration number 828848.

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Holiday Extras Travel Insurance is provided by Taurus Insurance Services, an insurance intermediary licenced and authorised in Gibraltar by the Financial Services Commission under Permission Number 5566 and authorised to passport general insurance intermediary services into the UK and registered with the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK under registration number 444830.

The insurance is underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE. Great Lakes Insurance SE is a German insurance company with its headquarters at Königinstrasse 107, 80802 Munich. UK Branch office: 10 Fenchurch Avenue, London, EC3M 5BN, company number SE000083. Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK Branch, is authorised and regulated by Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht. Deemed authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number: 769884. Subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and limited regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details of the Temporary Permissions Regime, which allows EEA-based firms to operate in the UK for a limited period while seeking full authorisation, are available on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website.