Calls and texts to other EU countries

16 May 2019

Since 15 May 2019, price caps should be applied to calls and texts made by UK consumers to any landline or mobile number of another EU member state.

These caps are:

  • €0.19 (around 16p) excluding VAT per minute for calls (including any connection charge); and
  • €0.06 (around 5p) excluding VAT for text messages.

Which countries do the price caps apply to?

The price caps apply to calls and texts to any landline or mobile number of another EU member state.

The EU member states are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The EU price caps will also apply to the EEA countries, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, once the relevant legislation has been passed.

If you call someone travelling in one of the countries listed above but their number does not belong to one of those countries (for example if they are visiting France but have a Canadian number), the price caps will not apply.

Do I have to do anything for the caps to apply?

These price caps should be applied automatically to fixed and mobile services charged wholly or partly based on actual consumption unless you:

  • were on an alternative tariff for international calls prior to 15 May 2019 and chose to remain on it (i.e. you previously switched to a tariff that charges different rates for international calls than your phone company’s standard tariff); or
  • deliberately choose an alternative tariff.

If you were on a non-default tariff for international calls prior to 15 May 2019, your phone company should have made you aware of the new price caps that would begin to apply to their default tariff from that date. Unless you have specifically asked to keep your existing tariff, your phone company must automatically switch you onto their default tariff from 15 July 2019.

Are phone companies allowed to offer alternative tariffs?

Yes, phone companies are allowed to offer alternative tariffs where prices are higher than the caps, but customers must explicitly ask to switch to that tariff before it is applied. For example, a customer may choose to switch to a tariff where the cost of calling certain countries covered by the rules (e.g. France) is higher than the default cap, but the cost of calling other ‘rest of world’ countries (e.g. Canada) is cheaper.

Before a customer chooses an alternative tariff, their phone company must tell them about the benefits they could miss out on if they switch.

Can phone companies charge less than the caps?

Yes. Phone companies are not allowed to charge above the caps but can charge less. Consumers looking for cheaper costs may benefit from:

  • comparing the different rates phone companies charge; or
  • using other methods for calling or messaging someone such as standalone Voice Over IP or internet-based messaging services.

Do the rules apply to business customers?

No. The rules only apply to non-business customers.

Do the rules apply to premium rate calls?

The price caps do not apply to the whole cost of a premium rate call but do apply to your phone company’s charge for accessing the service (the access charge). The rest of the charge (the service charge) is not capped under these rules.

Do these price caps apply if I use my phone abroad?

No. When you use your phone in another country you are ‘roaming’ and these price caps do not apply. However, there are separate rules on what your phone company can charge when you are roaming in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. Details of these rules can be found in our ‘Using your mobile abroad’ guide.

After Brexit, customers could see changes to how calls and texts from the UK to the EU are charged.

Since 15 May 2019, new rules generally mean that the cost of calls and texts from a UK number to a number of another EU member state are capped. However, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, these rules will no longer apply and phone companies will decide what charges to apply to these calls and texts.

Currently, companies must give customers at least a month’s notice of any changes to their contract that would particularly disadvantage them. Customers have the right to exit their contract without being penalised in these situations. We have advice for customers on how these rules work.