EU roaming charges finally come to an end: What you need to know

Those pricey EU mobile phone roaming charges that frequently led to a ruined holiday are finally being scrapped from Thursday. Here's what you need to know about the change.

EU roaming charges finally come to an end: What you need to know
Photo: Gladkov/Depositphotos

What are roaming charges?

These are the often astronomical extra charges added to the phone bills of holidaymakers for making calls, sending texts and using internet mobile data when in a foreign country.

The EU has now abolished these charges saying that customers must now be charged the same for using their mobile as they would in their home country, according to their phone contract. In other words when you come to Denmark this summer, you'll pay the same rates as you do at home. And if you live in Denmark and go abroad in the EU, well the same price plan applies. So in theory no more “phone bill shock” at the end of the holiday.

Travellers should receive a text when they arrive in the new country explaining  the rules.

Is it free to use my phone abroad?

No. Charging people more to use their phones in the EU has been banned – not not charging them at all.

The idea is that mobile users can now “roam like at home” when travelling within the EU. 

But do I have to pay to receive a call?

No, those nasty charges have gone.

And what about Danish providers?

People using Danish service providers need to make sure they have the right type of contract.

Although the EU has revoked roaming charges, Danish service providers have introduced new contracts that only work within Denmark.

New EU rules also mean that the price of existing contracts with many Danish companies will rise, with newer, cheaper Denmark-only deals being introduced. People on these contracts will not be able to use their mobile phones abroad at all.

Danish providers YouSee, Telmore, Fullrate, Telia, Call Me, Plenti, Telenor and CBB Mobile will all raise prices by up to 20 kroner per month for certain customers.

Of these companies, Telmore, Fullrate, Call Me, Plenti, and CBB Mobile are also offering new contracts that only work in Denmark.

Three and Oister will not increase current prices, while the former will also introduce a Denmark-only deal.

The downside: don't expect unlimited internet abroad

People use their phones differently while on holiday to at home – sharing more often, taking more pictures, using maps, calling to check on each other or to let family and friends at home know how they're getting on. This means you are at a higher risk of going over your allowance.

If you have a top of the range tariff with unlimited data, you will find mobile operators have still put limits in place.

How much internet data you are given free of roaming charges depends on your contract. So it's worth finding out and keeping an eye on how much you have used. 

Photo: Christian Hartmann/Scanpix

What if i'm an Erasmus student or working abroad for a long time?

The end of roaming charges is only designed for short term travellers, not people living abroad for a long time. A limit of four months per year has been included, so if you are abroad longer than that per year, you can expect to be either notified by your provider or forced to pay extra.

So Erasmus students and those working abroad for a lengthy period of time are advised to buy a local sim card.

Does the scrapping of charges only apply to the EU?

European Union countries – as well as the European Economic Area countries of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Travellers need to be careful about using their phones in some non-EU countries like Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican City and Gibraltar as well as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which are not formally part of the EU or even the European Economic Area (EEA). Country inclusion depends on your provider, so it's best to contact them directly.

How will Brexit affect the changes?

This is on the long list of things to be negotiated in the Brexit deal although it's not likely to be a priority.

When they get round to it, the UK government will have the choice of following the new regulations because they haven't been written into UK law. 

Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Scanpix

Is anywhere else covered?

The new rules only apply within the EU, so customers are still advised to switch off mobile data and roaming in non-EU European countries (including popular Danish holiday destinations like Turkey) to be sure of avoiding a hefty bill.

So this means my bills when on holiday in the EU will be smaller?

In theory yes, although as mentioned above, be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking everything is free or spending all day on the internet as there are limits and charges will be applied above those limits (see above). Your mobile phone contract itself will probably go up as providers look to make up for their losses elsewhere (again, see above).

Do the changes include people on pay-as-you-go deals?

Yes. It's a legal ruling so applies everywhere in the EU – regardless of what sort of mobile deal you have. Once you step outside the EU then you have to check your individual contracts to see what applies.

What about calling local numbers while on holiday?

You will be still be charged the same rate for making international calls and will still be limited by the package you have agreed with your provider, but you won't be landed with surprise bills for being abroad.

So if, for example, if you from abroad and are in Denmark and need to call the hotel, book a restaurant or call a tour guide, that will be treated as an international call – even though you're in the same country as them at the time. 

Need to know more?

CLICK HERE for a full list of frequently asked questions about EU roaming charges as answered by the EU itself.


Denmark’s plastic littering mapped out in world-first project

Plastic packets, cigarette butts and other litter are still causing a mess in nature areas in Denmark.

Denmark’s plastic littering mapped out in world-first project
File photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

A national survey, Mass Experiment 2019, resulted in the collection of 374,082 pieces of plastic waste at natural areas such as beaches, parks and in ditches, Ritzau reports.

57,000 Danish school students participated in collection of the litter.

Mass Experiment is the world’s first attempt at mapping plastic pollution for a whole country.

“The plastic found by the students is typically different types of disposable plastic,” Kristian Syberg, an associate professor at Roskilde University’s Department of Science and Environment and a researcher on the project, told Ritzau.

“Much of it cannot be recycled, which is why many people tend to throw it away in the wild,” Syberg added.

“This can also impact animals which can become stuck in it or think it is food and eat it. Then they can't distinguish it (from actual food) and get a false sense of being full and can die from hunger,” he continued.

Syberg is also spokesperson for the MarinePlastic research centre, where the project’s results have been analyzed and recorded in a database developed by the European Environment Agency.

Among other types of trash, 112,018 cigarette butts were collected, representing a third of the total litter found.

“Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, which is used to make some types of plastic. This makes it difficult for nature to break them down,” said Niels Them Kjær, a project manager for tobacco prevention with the Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse).

“If the cigarette has been smoked, there is also tar in the filter, which also pollutes the environment when you throw away the butt,” he added.

Environment minister Lea Wermelin said findings are “deeply troubling”.

Wermelin noted that political action is being taken to reduce the use of plastics, including bans on cotton wool swabs, disposable cutlery and plastic straws.

Additionally, the price of plastic carrier bags has tripled, and businesses will be banned from providing free carrier bags from January 1st 2021.

READ ALSO: New laws: Here’s what changes in Denmark in 2020

The minister also said individual responsibility must be taken for the environment.

“It [the result of the study, ed.] s also something that I hope will be thought-provoking,” she said.

“And that can help to ensure a change of attitude, so that fewer pieces of plastic are thrown in our nature to the detriment of animals,” she added.