The transition phase for the United Kingdom to leave the EU ended on December 31, 2020. In future, the relationship between both parties will be governed by an extensively negotiated partnership agreement. But what does Brexit mean for travelers? Do you now have to fear roaming charges for using your mobile phone abroad? TECHNOLOGY BUTTON has asked the providers and clarified.
Since the EU Roaming Regulation came into force on June 15, 2017, travelers in other EU countries no longer pay roaming costs for mobile phone use. This means that phone calls, sending SMS and surfing the Internet cost just as much as in your home country. So far, this regulation also applied to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as they were part of the European Union. However, with the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU and the transition period that expired on January 1, 2021, that will change. How the German mobile network providers react to this and what Brexit means for roaming in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the future, we will summarize here together.
Even after Brexit, no roaming fees for the time being
In principle, with the Brexit that has taken place, network operators are now free to charge fees for using German SIM cards in the United Kingdom. Because Great Britain and Northern Ireland are no longer part of the European Union and therefore do not fall under the EU roaming regulation. Whether such special surcharges are levied, however, also depends on the regulations that the mobile network providers of the states have made with each other. Norway and Iceland do not belong to the EU, but an agreement has been reached to integrate the countries into the EU roaming regulations. The British and German mobile phone companies would also like to continue to cooperate and forego roaming costs, as TECHNOLOGY BUTTON learned on request.
In detail, this means that Telekom, Vodafone and O2 will for the time being refrain from charging roaming charges for mobile phone use even after the UK has left the EU.
Deutsche Telekom announced to the German press agency that nothing would change for travelers even in the event of an unregulated Brexit. “With us, Great Britain remains in the EU tariffs, just as Switzerland is now already included,” says the official body. Telekom’s EU roaming regulation already includes countries that do not belong to the European Union – including Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. In future, Great Britain and Northern Ireland are also to be integrated into this regulation.
Similar to Telekom, Vodafone also expressed itself. The network operator wants to continue including Great Britain in its EU roaming regulation after Brexit, as long as the country does not express itself otherwise and actively initiate an exit. Vodafone is already including some non-EU countries such as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein in its roaming regulation and thus allows the use of mobile phones there at no additional cost. This regulation should also apply to the United Kingdom.
The statement to TECHNOLOGY BUTTON says exactly: “Brexit and EU roaming are two different things. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have been participating in the EU roaming regulation for years, even though they are NOT members of the EU. After Brexit, it will initially be up to the UK to decide whether they want to continue participating in EU roaming regulation. Great Britain has so far decided to initially remain part of the EU roaming zone even after leaving the European Union. For the time being, nothing will change in terms of tariffs or the existing roaming regulation with Great Britain. “
The third large German network operator Telefónica / O2 was a little more specific in its statement on the consequences of Brexit. With the exit from the EU, Great Britain would be classified in a different country zone, according to a spokeswoman. For countries in world zones 2 and 3, there are usually significantly higher costs for call minutes, SMS and mobile Internet. However, O2 wants to do without this even after Brexit. “For O2 customers traveling to Great Britain, the current conditions of their respective tariff are valid until further notice,” said the provider.
1 & 1
The provider 1 & 1 operating in the O2 network expresses itself similarly. “Until further notice, EU roaming is still possible for 1 & 1 customers in Great Britain,” said TECHNOLOGY BUTTON. “With the official exit of the EU from Great Britain on January 1, 2021, nothing will change the existing regulation, as there is still no clarity with regard to follow-up agreements. EU agreements with the UK can also affect our roaming rules. Of course we will inform our customers about possible changes in good time. “