The government has warned that Britons’ entitlement to free mobile phone roaming in the EU will end in January 2021, at the end of the Brexit transition period.
The UK will formally leave the EU this evening but will remain in the customs union and single market until 31 December 2020. After that point, from 1 January 2021, “the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end,” the government’s website says.
Since June 2017, Britons, as citizens of the EU, have been able use their mobile phones to make calls, send texts and use data (within limits) across Europe for no extra fee.
The current Brexit deal doesn’t protect this entitlement. The only protection in place will be a requirement that mobile providers alert customers when they’ve racked up £45 in roaming charges. They’ll then need to opt in spend more and continue using data.
With the lifting of the guarantee, the continuation of free EU roaming will be left at the discretion of mobile providers. The UK’s four largest mobile providers have suggested they will continue to offer free EU roaming.
EE said: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and we have no plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome.”
Vodafone “has no plans to change our roaming charges because of Brexit.”
O2 “currently have no plans to change our roaming services across Europe.”
“We will be working closely with the UK government and other European mobile operators to try to maintain the current EU ‘Roam like at home’ arrangements once the UK leaves the EU,” a spokesperson said.
Three is “committed to eradicating excessive roaming charges and will retain this great customer benefit regardless of Brexit negotiations.”
However, their policies may change, especially if EU operators raise charges for UK providers and the providers pass the price increases onto consumers.
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