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Roaming: In which countries can I use my Spanish mobile without being charged?

The Local Spain
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Roaming: In which countries can I use my Spanish mobile without being charged?
Photo: Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay.

Understanding where and when you can use your Spanish mobile abroad without paying extra roaming charges can help save you from surprise fees.


The plane touches down and the seatbelt sign switches off. The first thing many people do after a flight is turn on their phones.

Usually when arriving in a new country, your phone will receive a few text messages: one from your network provider telling you about any possible charges, and another welcoming you to the local network with some information on their charges and rates.

Most people ignore these messages. And though in 2023 you can largely rely on WIFI and WhatsApp to communicate, depending on where you are using your phone abroad can lead to a nasty surprise on your next bill.

READ ALSO: Which is the best mobile phone network in Spain?

So, can I use my Spanish mobile abroad without being charged?

EU countries

The answer is, it depends. In short: in the EU, yes. Outside the EU, probably not.

If you're travelling within the EU, you'll almost certainly not charged extra roaming costs. If it's outside the EU, it depends on your network provider as in most countries the roaming charges vary on a company by company basis. It's always best to check before travelling if you're in doubt.

However, due to EU legislation from 2017, you can use your Spanish mobile phone in any EU country without incurring any extra costs.

That includes: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden.

As Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), you will also be able to use your Spanish phones for free there too.


Roaming charges in the UK post-Brexit

Obviously, since the UK left the EU it is no longer part of the free roaming arrangement. As such, phone companies choose on an individual company basis whether they want to apply roaming charges.

Though it depends on your provider, phone companies are by law obliged to give one month's notice before they change any rates or terms.

Of the main mobile networks in Spain, Vodafone continues to keep the UK in Zone 1, which means that there will be no additional cost to the tariff you have for using it in Spain. 

Movistar customers are also still able to enjoy the benefits of roaming between EU countries when travelling to the UK. Whether they have a contract or prepaid tariff, they will pay the same rate as in Spain.

However, it is worth noting that Movistar makes it clear that this roaming freedom does not apply to "traffic made from sea, air or satellite coverage."

Unlike the other major networks in Spain, Orange no longer includes the UK in its Zone 1 coverage, which means that calls, messages and internet usage are no longer included in your regular Spanish tariff.

This means that your all mobile usage will incur an extra cost in addition to what you pay in Spain. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the EU's plan for a uniform phone charger


What about the US?

To date, only Vodafone offers free roaming in the US for Spanish mobile phone users.

However, other carriers generally offer special tariffs with data bonuses that can be purchased if you are travelling to the US. It's always best to check with your company before flying.

Roaming charges for Movistar customers in the US cost €6.05 for each day you use your phone's data, the price of the data tariff that Movistar automatically activates once you land in the US.

As for calls, each call will cost you €1.82/minute plus a €1.21 call set-up fee.

For Orange customers, it is recommended that you activate the 'Everywhere' international use voucher. This voucher is completely free and is available to all contract, card and mobile internet customers.

For €7 a day, you have 30 minutes of calls and 100Mb of Internet per day.

If not, the standard international tariff will be applied, which is much higher. To give you an idea, using one mega of data will cost you €12.10.

What is the maximum time I can stay in another country while roaming for free?

The EU Commission legislation states that in order to pay for calls, messages and data usage at the same price as in your home country (ie, not be charged any extra roaming costs) you must use the mobile phone for a longer period in your country than abroad.

Note that phone operators can track data consumption and roaming that their customers have used in the last four months. If during this time you have used more mobile services abroad in another EU country rather than in your home country, operators could legally apply small extra charges.


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