It’s important to know about the changes to data roaming rules since the UK has left the EU, especially when you want to keep in touch with everyone back home – and make them envious with all those poolside pics. Holidays are a time for relaxing, and we don’t want you coming back to any nasty surprises on your phone bill. That’s why we’ve rounded up everything you need to know for the networks we’re partnered with in this handy guide. We’ll take you through what data roaming is, which networks are still free, and how much it’ll cost you if there are any new charges.


What is data roaming?

Data roaming is a feature you can turn on to access your usual minutes, messages and data allowance when you’re abroad. Because it can’t connect to your normal network, your phone searches for a local one it can link up to instead. So, every time you text, call, or use data on your phone abroad, you’re ‘roaming’. This can sometimes come with extra charges, but don’t worry, we’ll explain exactly what this means for you.


What are data roaming charges?

Up until the end of 2020, anyone in the UK could use their phones in the EU just like they did at home, with no extra charges. But since leaving the EU, most networks have introduced charges, so there could be some new costs for using your phone abroad.


What does my network charge for data roaming in the EU?

Good news! O2 customers can keep using their phones in the EU at no extra cost.

If you’re with O2, you can use up to 25GB of data as part of you plan in all 48 ‘Europe Zone’ countries. Just remember that all ‘free’ data usage is capped at 25GB regardless of your UK allowance. Every GB you use over the allowance to be charged at £3.50 per GB.

Three customers who signed up or upgraded on or after 1st October 2021 need to pay to use their data in the EU.

The ‘Go Roam in Europe’ scheme lets you use your UK data allowance for a daily charge of £2 for 24 hours.

There are different charges for Vodafone customers abroad, depending on the plan, start date and where in the EU you’re travelling.

If your contract began before 11th August 2021, you won’t face any charges when travelling to the EU, but if your contract began after this time, then the price you pay depends on your destination and type of plan you have.

Vodafone have divided the world into 4 ‘zones’ to work out how much you’ll need to pay.

‘Zone A’ covers Ireland and the Isle of Man, and there’s no extra data roaming charge when travelling in these areas.

‘Zone B’ is made up of 49 EU destinations (including France, Spain, Greece and Italy). Anyone visiting these areas need to pay a daily charge of £2 to use their phone. You’ve also got the option of buying a European Roaming pass. This costs £10 for 8 days or £15 for 15 days, which works out at just £1 per day.

You can use your SMARTY calls, texts, and data anywhere in the EU with no extra cost up to 12GB.

VOXI customers can use their phone anywhere in the EU, to do this you’ll need to purchase a VOXI European Roaming Pass. The pass is £2.25 for 1 day, £4 for 2 days, £10 for 8 days and £15 for 15 days.

What does my network charge for data roaming outside of the EU?

Outside of the EU, O2 customers can add the O2 Travel Bolt On to their plan, which gives you unlimited calls, texts, and data for just £6 per day.

Some O2 Refresh and SIM-only tariffs even include the Travel Bolt On as part of your plan, meaning you can roam at no extra cost.

‘Go Roam Around the World’ lets customers use their phone outside of the EU for just £5 per day.

While Vodafone’s zones A and B cover the EU, zones C and D take in the rest of the world. If you’re a Vodafone customer and travelling in these zones, you’ll need to pay a fee of £6 a day to use your phone.

But if you have a limited or unlimited data Xtra plan with 4 Xtra benefits, free roaming in the EU and Zone C is included in your plan, no matter when you signed up for it.

Unfortunately, if you have a Vodafone Basics plan, then you won’t be able to use your phone for data roaming.

Vodafone’s tariffs might seem a bit more complicated, but they cover more countries than a lot of other networks, making sure you can stay connected in over 150 locations.

If you’re a SMARTY customer and roaming outside of the EU, you can buy out-of-plan add-ons that come at different prices depending on the country you’re visiting. You’ll only pay for what you use, meaning if you haven’t used your full data allowance, the value of whatever’s left can be put towards next month’s bill.

VOXI customers can roam outside the EU by purchasing Roaming Extra, with 8 days available for £15 and 15 days costing £25.

Whichever network you’re with, it’s always best to make sure you’ve checked your tariff before jetting off, just so there aren’t any unwanted surprises.


Should data roaming be on or off?

It’s completely up to you. If you’re happy with your network’s roaming plan (and potential charges) that we’ve covered above, and you’re going to be calling, texting or using your data then simply turn it on. And when you’re done, or just don’t want to use data roaming at all, then make sure it’s turned off, so you don’t accidentally use up your allowance or rack up any extra costs.

Don’t forget, you’ve always got the option of swapping SIMs while you’re away to save some extra pennies on your hols. We’ve got plenty of plans to choose from to help you find a deal that works for you, and if you want to use a different network just for your trip away, you can even buy a 1-month SIM. Just remember to make sure your phone is unlocked for any network first.

Shop 1-month SIM only plans here.


Looking to upgrade your phone anyway?

If your contract’s nearly up and you’ve spotted a network in this article that’s caught your eye, we have plenty of pay monthly contracts and offers. Want to swap SIMs but keep your phone? We’ve got a range of longer SIM-only plans too.



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