June 23, 2022

What is the ‘fair use’ limit for UK phones used in France?

Reader Question: Due to our concerns about the cost of data roaming for our three month stay in France, my partner and I have opted for Vodafone’s best deal which includes it. There is, however, a “fair use” clause in the fine print. What does this mean and is it still practical to use a UK SIM card?

UK mobile operators are imposing ‘fair use’ clauses in their contracts to ensure that customers using their phones in Europe are not doing so for months and months at a stretch or using an excessive amount of data.

Vodafone declares that: “The use of our services in our European zone […] is intended for temporary and periodic trips such as holidays and short breaks.

“You should not use the included roaming services more than you would reasonably expect.

“We will monitor and verify your roaming usage. If, within a four-month period, you are roaming in the Europe Zone or Global Roaming Plus destinations for 62 days or more AND your usage of corresponding roaming exceeds your UK usage, you may incur additional roaming charges.

“We will send you a notification two weeks before charging you additional roaming charges, to give you time to adjust your usage accordingly.

“These additional roaming charges will be:

  • £0.033 per minute for calls
  • £0.01 per text
  • £3.13 per 1GB of data

“You will still be able to receive calls and texts from friends and relatives at no additional cost.”

So if you think you can keep your usage within those limits – perhaps by sticking to WiFi as often as you can – it should still be practical to use your UK phone in France.

If not, you might be advised to use your UK phone for a period of time and then buy a French prepaid tourist SIM card. For this you will need to ensure that your phone is “unlocked” and can take another SIM card.

Carriers are, since last year, normally required to sell unlocked phones, but you can check if yours is locked by inserting another SIM card into it and seeing if it works. If it is locked, you will need to contact your provider.

Read more: French holidaymaker racks up €16,000 phone bill on two-week trip

What are other operators saying?

O2 also enforces a fair usage limit, charging customers who use their phone in Europe for 63 days or more within a four-month period.

Customers whose normal contract includes a data allowance greater than 25 GB should also avoid exceeding 25 GB while in the company’s Europe zone.

Three, EE, Sky Mobile and Vodafone have all reintroduced roaming charges for new customers and upgrades after Brexit.

Charges depend on the person’s usage and contract.

Related Articles

Vodafone’s new £2 a day roaming charges will hit customers visiting France

Visitors to France will be affected by the return of the three UK roaming charges

Will French mobile operators reintroduce roaming charges in the UK after Brexit?


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