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Roaming charges: what you need to know before using your phone in Europe

When a French person goes abroad, his phone is connected to the local partner operators of the one he is subscribed to in France. Before June 2017, the traveler had to pay an additional cost in case of use until Brussels withdraws it within the Union. This is called roaming charges. Good news for mobile consumers: Brussels has announced that its abolition, originally for five years, will be extended by ten years from 2022.

Be careful though, the abolition of roaming charges, as the name suggests, does not apply to calls from France to foreign countries. However, in 2019 the Commission set a price cap for these calls, which cannot exceed 19 euro cents per minute without VAT. Text messages cannot exceed 6 cents per unit without VAT.

Package limits

Another important clarification: the use of telephone communications abroad is free only within the limits of the package to which the consumer has subscribed. Two hours for example if the subscription is for two hours, or unlimited if it is the case of the package. On the other hand, it is possible to limit the consumption of mobile Internet data while roaming, even in the case of an unlimited plan in the country of origin.

The abolition of roaming charges means that communications or data consumption in another European country are deducted from national plans. If this flat rate is for two hours and the consumer uses one hour of calls during the trip, then he will only have one hour of possible calls left on his return.

not britain

Telephone operators also owe clear tariff information to their subscribers. This is the reason why a French person who arrives in another country receives an SMS detailing his possibilities and the prices in case of exceeding his package. Likewise, the consumer must receive an alert by SMS when he reaches 80% of the possibilities offered by his plan.

Finally, the abolition of telephone surcharges affects only the member countries of the Union, plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. Consumers should therefore inquire about their operator’s policy before traveling to Great Britain. Similarly, according to a consumer association, vacationers on the ski slopes near Switzerland sometimes get unpleasant surprises, as their phone has been connected to antennas on the other side of the border.

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