Holidaymakers heading abroad this summer face paying heftier charges for using their mobile phone abroad on some networks.
Following the UK’s departure from the European Union on 1 January 2021, mobile phone providers in the UK are no longer legally required to offer customers free roaming in the EU.
The EU scrapped roaming charges back in 2017, but some of the biggest mobile networks are reintroducing the fees for UK customers now that European Union rules do not apply.
Which networks are reintroducing roaming fees?
From Monday 23 May, Three mobile customers will pay a £2 per day charge for access to texts, data and minutes in EU destinations.
The change affects new and upgrading customers who took out a contract with Three on or after 1 October 2021.
Those who had a contract with Three before this date and have not upgraded since will not be charged.
Three is also increasing the cost of roaming charges for other previous Go Roam destinations to £5 per day.
The Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man are both excluded from these changes, and the changes do not affect those on pay as you go.
A Three spokesperson said: “The new charge ensures customers are clear on what they will pay when using their phone in another country and only those who roam will pay for the service.
“It will also ensure that we can continue investing in our UK network.”
Where will roaming fees apply?
The full list of Three’s Go Roam destinations in Europe where customers will have to pay the £2 a day fee include:
- Aland Islands
- Balearic Islands
- Canary Islands
- Czech Republic
- French Guiana
- Saint Barthelemy
- Saint Martin
- San Marino
- The Netherlands
- Vatican City
There is no change to free roaming in the Republic of Ireland, which remains on all of Three’s plans subject to its fair usage policy of 12GB/mth.
A £5 per day charge to roam with Three applies in the following non-EU destinations:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- Sri Lanka
- US Virgin Islands
Which other providers are also charging roaming fees?
Three is not the only mobile network to reintroduce roaming fees for customers.
Vodafone introduced a £2 per day fee for roaming in Europe on 31 January this year, with EE also bringing in a £2 per day charge for using mobile data in Europe on 3 March.
Sky started charging customers £2 per day for European roaming from 3 May and Voxi, which is owned by Vodafone, will charge customers £2 per day to use mobile data in Europe from 27 May.
Voxi customers who want to keep using their mobile plan while travelling to the EU will need to buy a European Roaming Pass.
This pass costs £2 per day, or £1 per day if you purchase an eight or 15-day pass. The length of the pass will count down from the day you buy it, not from when it is first used, so customers should buy it as close to their date of travel as possible.
Are there any exceptions?
The notable exception is Virgin Media O2 which will not be reintroducing EU roaming charges.
The company, which owns both the Virgin Mobile and O2 networks, said it will not charge customers roaming fees in Europe, unlike the other major mobile networks.
In a statement, the company said that “analysis of rates from other providers suggests that charges could easily add up to over £100 for a family of four using their phones every day during a two-week break in Europe”.
Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer, Mobile, at Virgin Media O2, added: “We’re starting the year by giving our customers some certainty: we will not be reintroducing roaming fees in Europe for customers on O2 or Virgin Mobile.
“Unlike all the other major mobile networks who are bringing back roaming fees, we will not be following suit. With many Brits now looking to plan a trip abroad, we’ve got our customers covered and extra roaming charges will be one less thing to worry about.”