UK Departure From EU May Mean End Of Free Roaming

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Free roaming to end on 1 January 2021. British government confirms free EU roaming will likely end after the 11 month Brexit transition period

The British government has confirmed that the days of free roaming for mobile users in European countries may end with the UK’s departure from the European Union.

It should be noted that this will not happen overnight on 1 February 2020, but rather may happen at the end of the UK’s 11 month transition period, where the UK effectively remains a member of the single market and customs union.

The official government website on this matter, confirmed that from “1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.”

roaming mobile phone beach ©Ditty_about_summer / shutterstock

European roaming

It remains to be seen if British mobile operators will reach an agreement with their European counterparts during the transition period.

Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021,” advised the British government. “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,” it said. “Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.”

High roaming charges has been an issue for years with British mobile users.

But in 2014 the European Union created regulations so that people could use their existing mobile tarriffs whilst aboard.

The EU regulations finally went into effect in 2017, which meant UK users were able to make use of their mobile phone minutes, texts and data whilst abroad for no extra charge.

What next?

But the Brexit vote in 2016 meant that this free roaming may no apply when the UK leaves the European Union on Friday 30 January 2020.

But leaving may not mean that there is a return to the high roaming charges of old.

A Vodafone representative told the Register for example: “We have no plans to reintroduce roaming charges for Vodafone UK customers visiting the EU. We hope any potential Brexit outcome will avoid the need to change this position.”

“Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and we have no plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome,” an EE spokesperson also told the Register.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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