Michael Gove discusses changes to EU travel after Brexit
A whole host of changes have come into place since 11pm on December 31 – including changes to what service providers can charge for using your phone abroad. The deal was agreed just in time for the UK’s exit from the transition period, which began in early 2020, and means there are a number of key changes for Britons wanting to travel and live abroad within the EU as of the start of 2021.
While the prospect of a holiday is looking slim in the near future thanks to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, many frequent travellers are concerned that using your phone for calls and data within the EU could chalk up some hefty bills.
Roaming charges were scrapped within EU countries back in 2017, much to the delight of member states who could travel freely between the countries and not suffer from surprise bills for using their phone when they returned home.
A lack of roaming charges has meant Europeans can enjoy all the benefits of their tariff at home – but on the beach or slopes of another country.
Unfortunately, the deal brokered between the two sides does not have a clause in place to save Britons from roaming charges.
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So this means travellers with phone plans based here in the UK will be treated like any other from outside the EU.
This also means operators can reintroduce charges on making calls, sending texts and using your data while on the continent.
The Government released guidance on July 13, 2020, which reads: “From January 1, 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.”
The Brexit agreement summary says the deal “contains measures to encourage cooperation on the promotion of fair and transparent rates for international mobile roaming”.
Which operators have scrapped roaming charges?
Currently, it appears that the four main service and phone providers in the UK are not planning on reintroducing the highly unpopular roaming charges for customers now that the Brexit process is complete.
Three said it “already offers roaming at no extra cost for its customers in over 70 destinations including the US, Australia and New Zealand”, confirming that free roaming was going nowhere for its customers.
In a statement, the firm said: “We will retain this great customer benefit regardless of Brexit negotiations.”
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EE said: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond, and we don’t have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome.
“So our customers going on holiday and travelling in the EU will continue to enjoy inclusive roaming.”
And O2 said: “We’re committed to providing our customers with great connectivity and value when they travel outside the UK.
“We currently have no plans to change our roaming services across Europe.”
Vodaphone has followed the same thread and has also said it will not reintroduce roaming charges for customers.
As part of its Home from Home deal, customers of Tesco Mobile can use their phone in 48 European countries without any roaming charges.
Virgin Mobile customers are safe under the company’s Roam Like Home package which will save them from any potential charges.
A spokesperson said: “Virgin Mobile customers can continue to enjoy their inclusive data, minutes and texts while abroad in 43 European destinations.”
However, the provider refused to rule out potential changes to its roaming services altogether, adding that it will ”let our customers know in advance” if any changes occur.
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