International roaming

1. Principle: telecom operators do not charge additional costs abroad

Thanks to international roaming, when you are travelling abroad, you can use mobile services through a network of the country you are visiting. This involves calls and texting using your mobile phone or smartphone and using the Internet on your mobile phone, smartphone or tablet.

Telecom operators are in principle not allowed to charge extra roaming fees on top of the domestic rates.

This means that you will pay the domestic tariff while visiting another country of the European Union or a country that has signed an agreement with the European Union (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). 

Please note that the national tariff is not applicable in the countries within the European territory which are not members of the European Union, such as Switzerland, the Vatican or Monaco.

As a customer of a Belgian operator, you enjoy the national tariff when you are in a country of the European Union or in a country that has signed an agreement with the European Union (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and when:

  • you call (or send an SMS or an MMS to) a fixed or mobile Belgian number;
  • you call (or send an SMS or an MMS to) a fixed or mobile number of the country you are in;
  • you call (or send an SMS or an MMS to) a fixed or mobile number of another country in the European Union or a country that has signed an agreement with the European Union (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein);
  • you receive a call or an SMS on your phone, smartphone or tablet;
  • you surf the Internet using your smartphone or tablet.


You will find the correct list of countries in which the national tariff applies for roaming services at the following address:  https://www.bipt.be/en/consumers/faq/148-in-which-countries-does-the-european-roaming-regulation-apply

2. Exceptions to the principle

There are 3 exceptions to the principle that telecommunications operators are no longer allowed to charge extra roaming fees in addition to the national tariffs.

The first exception applies when an operator establishes that a customer is abusing the roaming services (some operators refer to this under the term “fair use”) In that case operators are allowed to charge a (capped) surcharge. An example of abuse would be when a customer abroad uses mobile roaming services exceeding a national presence and a national consumption established over a 4-months period. Operators who choose to apply such a system may only impose tariff surcharges (exceeding the national tariff) that do not exceed the following amounts (incl. VAT):

You make a mobile call 3.8 eurocent maximum per call minute in addition to the domestic tariff
You receive a call on your mobile device 0.94 eurocent maximum for a call within the EU
You send an SMS 1.2 eurocent maximum per SMS in addition to the domestic tariff
You receive an SMS free of charge
You surf the Internet 0.54 eurocent maximum per megabyte of data in addition to the domestic tariff

A second exception only applies to data use (some operators refer to this under the term “fair use”): operators who wish to do so may charge extra on top of a minimum of data volume that has to be provided at the domestic rate. The maximum amount of this surcharge may not exceed € 5.4/GB or € 0.0054/MB (incl. VAT) in 2019.The minimum data volume an operator has to provide at the domestic rate is calculated according to a complex formula. Find out more from your operator.

It is not compulsory to apply the two said exceptions which means that not all operators do apply them. Most often operators only apply these exceptions for specific tariff plans and not for all tariff plans.

A third exception is that your operator has been granted a departure from the rule to keep on charging extra roaming fees. If that is the case, the operator will inform you beforehand about the applicable tariffs and terms and conditions. The only operator in Belgium who has been granted such a departure, is VOO Mobile.

3. Information from your operator when you cross the border

When you enter another Member State of the European Union or a country that has signed an agreement with the European Union (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), your operator has to give you certain information via a text message (or mail or pop-up), such as the fact that the operator applies a fair use policy and the conditions thereof.  The terms and conditions for the implementation of a possible fair use policy also has to be mentioned in the general terms and conditions of your contract.

4. In short: the national tariff for international roaming only applies:

  • in the countries of the European Union (not in Switzerland for instance);
  • in the countries having signed an agreement with the European Union: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein;
  • if you are not in Belgium (if you call a number abroad while being in Belgium, you will pay an international tariff, which is often higher than the national tariff);
  • if you use a mobile device (not a fixed phone or fixed Internet abroad) with a Belgian operator's SIM card;  
  • if you do not exceed the “fair use” cap;
  • if your operator was not granted a departure allowing him to continue to apply surcharges for roaming. Today, the only operator having been granted such a departure, is VOO Mobile.