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Europe's roaming price caps kick in


Tomorrow is the day for the next step in Europe's move toward elimination of roaming charges for phone calls, texts and data. By June of next year, under EU laws, all roaming charges should be completely eliminated.

For the next 14 months, the caps are €0.06 per minute on top of the domestic price for calls, €0.02 for texts, and €0.06 per megabyte of data. The cost for an incoming roaming call is capped at €0.012. Incoming calls are usually no charge in the phone's home country.

It seems simple, but there are a few issues to be aware of, including how it will be applied to customers on flat-rate plans. Of most interest to travelers from outside the EU is how it will apply to the short-term prepaid SIMS popular with visitors. And the answer is variable.

The new regulations require all operators to offer at least one plan that conforms to the new rules, and most operators will offer several, but not all plans will conform. If you are buying a new SIM in an EU country to use during a multi-country trip, be sure to ask (and hope for an accurate answer) whether it as a roaming plan that meets the new caps. If not, and if you're planning to use the SIM for significant data use, you may still want to buy a new SIM in each country.

If you're a U.S. T-Mobile user, your domestic data plan already includes free data use in all the EU countries; if you want a local SIM as well for local calls, the cost will be low enough even if you roam, as long as you use your U.S. SIM for the data.


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