How does roaming work in Ireland?

If you want to use your mobile while abroad and avoid an expensive phone bill, this guide can help. Here’s how to ‘Roam like at Home’ in the EU and find the right mobile plan for your trip.

What is roaming?

Roaming is using your mobile phone in another country, for example, when you go on holiday.

You should receive a text from your network when you arrive at your destination, which gives you information on the charges. They should contact you to alert you of your roaming spend too.

The amount you’ll pay for calls, texts and data depends on:

  • Your phone plan
  • The amount of calls, texts and data you use
  • Where you travel to

You must spend more time at home than abroad for it to count as roaming. Spending too much time roaming could mean you have to pay extra for services, subject to a fair usage policy.

What does Roam Like at Home (RLAH) mean?

When you travel within the EU and use your mobile, you’ll pay the same for calls, texts and data as you would in Ireland, meaning you can ‘Roam Like at Home.’

RLAH also means you can receive calls and texts while roaming without paying any extra costs.

Data roaming allowances in the EU

Although the rate you’ll pay for calls, texts and data is the same in the EU as at home, your data allowance may differ.

If you have a low data limit, e.g. under 5GB, you’ll also have the same allowance in the EU.

However, if you have unlimited mobile data or a very high data limit, your operator may apply a limit on the data you can use while roaming.

If your limit is different overseas, your operator will have to inform you in advance. You’ll also get an alert when you reach 80% of your limit, and again when you reach 100%.

Here are some of the top SIM-only plans and any caps applied for roaming:

Network Plan Name Cost p/m Home data* EU data  
eir mobile Connect - 30 day €14.99 for 6 months, €29.99 thereafter 120GB 30GB  
Clear Mobile €14.99 Plan €14.99 Unlimited** 15GB  
GoMo GoMo SIM €14.99 30 day rolling contract 120GB 13GB  
Tesco Mobile €20 All In SIM Only €20 100GB 18.07GB  
Three Unlimited SIMO 12m €20 for 6 months, €30 thereafter Unlimited** 30GB  
Virgin Mobile Unlimited €5 for 6 months, €25 thereafter Unlimited** 23GB  
Vodafone Red Unlimited Sim Only €25 for 6 months, €35 thereafter Unlimited** Unlimited**  
48 €12.99 Plan €12.99 200GB 12GB  

*Home data figure outlines the cap on data, under the network’s fair usage policy **Unlimited: Fair Usage Policy applies

View and compare SIM-only deals

Is data unlimited with ‘Roam like at Home’?

No, most mobile networks cap data use abroad.

If you’re a heavy data user, you’ll need to be careful about how you use data in the EU to avoid excess charges.

Consider changing to a SIM-only plan with a generous data package for roaming if you’re concerned about breaching your limit. Here are the pros and cons of switching to a SIM-only deal.

Best value SIM for EU roaming

This plan from eir offers unlimited calls, texts and data at home. Customers will also get unlimited calls and texts in the EU and a generous 30GB of data while roaming in the EU.

If you intend to travel or call outside the EU, you can upgrade your plan and get 200 international minutes and texts and 50GB data to use in the EU.

connect - 30 Day
€14.99
per month
€9.99 Activation fee
Unlimited
minutes
Unlimited
texts
Unlimited 5G
data

Roaming outside of the EU

While the roaming rules are great for people holidaying within the EU, you’ll still need to be wary of roaming charges if you’re travelling elsewhere.

In destinations like Asia, the US and Australia, charges for calls to home can be over €3 per minute, while sending a single text costs up to 75 cents, so try to restrict your usage, and use wifi wherever possible.

If you’re worried about charges you may face while travelling in the UK or outside the EU, contact your network.

Roaming in the UK

Now that the UK has left the EU, Irish phone users are not entitled to EU roaming rates when travelling to the UK.

ComReg understands there will be no immediate changes for customers, but it’s still worth contacting your provider to check if any charges or mobile allowances apply when travelling to the UK.

Regardless of any future costs, mobile phone users will still have legal protections around roaming, such as:

  • being informed of any roaming charges when they use mobile devices in the UK
  • being alerted when the data roaming cap (€61.50 including VAT) is reached
  • being informed about how to avoid inadvertent roaming
  • being notified if their contractual terms are changed

How to avoid roaming charges

Here are some ways to guard against extra costs on your phone bill when abroad:

  • download movies and music in advance of your trip
  • don’t stream movies and music on the go
  • turn off automatic updates for apps
  • turn off ‘data roaming’ if you’re not in the EU
  • send texts rather than ‘messaging’ if in the EU
  • switch to a local SIM with unlimited data

Get a SIM only deal with the calls, texts and data you need for less.

It only takes a few minutes to find a cheaper deal and start saving.