02 May Brexit and Roaming
What does Brexit mean for roaming charges?
On paper at least, 2017 is the year that roaming charges for using your phone in the European Union (EU) disappeared forever. And right now consumers can indeed use their UK allowances in EU locations for no extra charge.
However, in the wake of the UK’s decision to vote to leave the EU, the future of roaming charges is now a lot less certain.
In the long term, there is a chance that the cost of EU roaming could rise.
In the event that the UK formally leaves the EU within the two-year timeframe it’s obliged to comply with, it’s possible that the existing caps on roaming charges will no longer apply. The result is that Britons could be paying much more for roaming.
Whether that happens depends on if the government decides to enforce the current capped prices for roaming with new legislation. If the government chooses not to do so, UK networks could theoretically hike roaming charges in the EU.
We hope that doesn’t happen. Given that UK networks, such as Three, offer free roaming in locations as far away as Australia, New Zealand and the USA, there’s every chance networks can negotiate comparable deals with EU countries.
Assuming they do, we’d hope pricing after the UK’s exit from the EU is complete will be in line with the current, capped prices.
We’ll be updating the information here when we know more, so make you sure you check back before you head off on your holidays.
What will happen to mobile roaming charges after Brexit?
If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, it will be up to telecomms companies on whether or not they offer surcharge-free RLAH (roam-like-at-home) after the UK leaves the EU.
This would mean that surcharge-free roaming when you travel to the EU could no longer be guaranteed. Check with your mobile phone provider to see whether or not they will be offering RLAH before you use your phone abroad.
However, the financial limit on mobile data usage abroad will be transferred into UK law. This means any charges incurred abroad should be capped at £45 per month (currently €50 under EU law) when travelling in the EU.
If you exceed this amount, your provider should contact you about spending more via an alert.
If the withdrawal agreement is approved by the EU and UK, it’s been agreed that consumer rights will remain unchanged until the terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU are decided. This transitional period will last from the date the UK leaves the EU to 31 December 2020.
Read our dedicated Brexit guide for more information on how the UK’s departure from the EU could impact your consumer rights.
You can also sign up for Brexit advice updates – Which? cuts through the noise to find the facts. Our practical and impartial consumer advice, rigorously researched and regularly delivered by email, can help you prepare for the UK leaving the EU