Image EU extends free mobile roaming for another decade
Image Rob Flynn
Staff Writer

The free roaming policy has made communication easier and cheaper across EU member states since its introduction in 2017, and will be extended for another 10 years at least.

Since its introduction back in 2017 free roaming has been one of the most popular EU reforms in recent years, without a doubt.

Thanks to the change in law, consumers no longer have to worry about being charged extra for using their phones when holidaying or on business in Europe, and with the most recent news from Brussels it looks like that’s not going to change any time soon!

The European Commission has decided to extend free mobile roaming for all European consumers until 2032 at least.

The decision was reached between the governing body, member states, and the European Parliament, and will see phone users be able to roam freely for at least another decade.

Here’s to that!

However, because our phones have almost become an extension of ourselves, we don’t frequently consider the ins and outs of our plans, so, before we get into the details of the announcement, here’s a reminder of what exactly we mean by free roaming.

What does ‘free roaming’ mean?

Before the European Union reformed the law back in 2017, consumers going to any other European country often had to pay (in some cases huge) extra costs to use their mobile phones. Especially when it came to downloading data.

However, a change to the law almost five years ago means that mobile customers can roam freely throughout Europe and use their mobile phone without incurring any extra changes for making calls, sending texts, or using data (some monthly limits do apply to the use of data, but in general, these limits are far in excess of what the average user would need).  

Because the policy has been so popular it’s understandable to think this has always been the case but it’s still a relatively new law.

Thankfully though, the EU has decided to extend this ruling for longer!

Free roaming extension

The European Union has decided to extend free mobile phone roaming until 2032.

The arrangement was renewed after a political agreement between the European Parliament and Slovenia, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

The new extension will be effective across all 27 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

However, and importantly, the rules will not affect the UK, which officially left the EU on January 1st. In other words, free roaming won’t apply for UK citizens (indeed most of the UK's main mobile providers have reintroduced hefty roaming charges in recent months).

Lead MEP Angelika Winzig spoke about the decision to extend: 

Roam-like-at-home is an unprecedented European success story. It shows how we all directly benefit from the EU single market. We want to cut costs further and improve the quality of service for all European citizens. 

This is an opportunity for us to add some notable improvements, which will benefit citizens and businesses without causing disruption for mobile network operators. With this regulation we take another important step towards a true European digital single market, for a successful, strong and effective European Union of the future.

Roaming in the UK

Given the delicate situation in Northern Ireland, there were concerns around the reintroduction of roaming charges in the UK and how it would affect business and travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic. 

Thankfully, both Irish and UK mobile providers have announced that they won't be reintroducing roaming charges for travel between the UK and Ireland.

This means people living in Northern Ireland and Great Britain won't be charged anything extra for using their phones in Ireland and vice versa.      

Get the best value for your mobile

If you’re looking to upgrade to a cheaper mobile phone plan you can be sure that there are plenty of great deals out there, but how do you choose?

Take a look at our piece on ten of the most important considerations when choosing a mobile phone plan.

You can also check out some of our other helps blogs and guides on the topic of mobile plans here:

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Get in touch!

What do you make of the latest free roaming announcement? Do you think it’s a good idea? Have you noticed a distinct benefit from it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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