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International Roaming and Whats it all about.

by on ‎30-09-2012 19:48 - last edited on ‎01-07-2019 15:00 by (437,418 Views)

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** Please read the following amendments to the article that allows for EU Roaming changes on the 15th June.


Roaming and what’s it about?

Roaming is when you are no longer able to Pick Up your home Network (O2-UK). This is normally when you are in another country. However, it is possible to pick up French Network when in UK and the Irish Networks when you’re still in Northern Ireland.  But if your phone is displaying anything else besides O2-UK or BT Cellnet (On Some Older Phones), then you are Roaming on a Foreign Network and Roaming Charges will apply if Services are used.


Is O2-DE the same as O2-UK?

The answer is no. O2-DE is a completely independent business to O2-UK and therefore Roaming Charges would apply.

O2-DE (O2 Germany) and O2-UK (O2 United Kingdom) are both Parts of the Telefonica Group, but this is all and is 2 Separate businesses



Do I need to Activate Roaming?

If you are an O2 PAYG Customer then Roaming is activated automatically as you can only spend what you have in Credit.

O2 Contract customers may need to call 202 to confirm they have Roaming Activated on their account if they have never used the service before or had issues in the past.



How does Roaming Work?

When you travel outside your Home Network, your Mobile Phone Sim will ask the Roaming (Foreign) network first if it can use the services on their Network. (You IMEI number of your phone is also sent to verify it’s not the Stolen / Missing Database as well)


The Foreign Network will take details from your Sim card and go back to the International Centre and check if O2 has an agreement first to use the Network and then if the Sim card is activated to use the Roaming. (This is why there is a delay sometimes in first switching on your mobile to you getting a signal and a Network Name)


If all comes back ok, then the Sim will receive instruction and you notice the Roaming Network Name shown on your phone.


What you may not know is that when the phone is authorised to use the Roaming Network, It is given a temporary allocated foreign number of the country you are visiting.


So you may have someone calling you and they may notice that the Ring tone suddenly sounds different in their Earpiece and not like the UK Ring. This is because of the Foreign Number allocated and that you are roaming on their Countries Network.


One this you will never know though is the Temporary Roaming Number as this is only a Forward number and changes.



So what charges do you pay for when roaming?

  • Making Calls?                     Yes you pay for all of the Call.
  • Receiving Calls?                                Yes you pay for the Roaming country Inbound Part of the Call.
  • Sending a SMS?                                Yes you pay to send a SMS.
  • Receiving a SMS?             No it’s free to receive a SMS.
  • Sending a MMS?              Yes you pay to send a MMS.
  • Receiving a MMS?           You may be charged for Data Usage to receive the MMS ( I never have on O2, But I know other UK networks charge)
  • Data Usage                         Is all chargeable



The Person who is Calling or Texting you from the UK.


This is where a lot of confusion becomes and people become worried regarding charges.


Simple Fact to Remember:

Even though the person you are contacting is abroad. You are still only calling their UK Mobile Number. So treat it as they are still in the UK.


So for example:

If you have free UK Text allowance, it will still be Free (Your Texting a UK Mobile Number)

If you have Free UK Minutes, then again you are calling a UK Mobile Number, so it will use your UK Minutes Allowance.

If you don’t have Free Allowances, then you will be charged at your normal standard Rate of ringing the UK or Texting a UK Mobile number



A couple of Questions and Answers that may come in useful:


Q)   I’m abroad and my friend is abroad, will I be charged to contact my friend as I’m only calling a UK Mobile number

A)   Yes, even though you are calling a UK Mobile Number. You are not in the UK and the person you are calling isn’t, so you will pay the Roaming Charges to make the call and the person who is receiving the call will pay the inbound part of the charge. If you’re roaming in our Europe Zone this will be included within your UK allowance; within countries included in O2 Travel, this will activate the £4.99 fee. More information here and here


Q)   Why am I charged twice for Voice Mail Messages?

A)   When someone tries to contact you and you don’t answer, the call is then passed back to the O2-UK voice mail as a return call, So you pay for the Return part of the call even though you didn’t answer your Mobile. Then when you want to listen to your voice mail, you pay to make the call and listen to it. So this is where Double Charges apply


Q)   Why are inbound SMS free when I’m abroad?

A)   This was set by the EU Telecoms Parliament, that any EU Mobile Company must allow their users to allow incoming SMS for Free anywhere in the world.


Q)   What is the Difference between Roaming and Home Networks?

A)   Your home network is on your network where you purchased the Sim from. So if you purchased your Sim card in the UK and from O2, your home network would be O2-UK and you would be allocated a UK Mobile number.

Roaming is when you are no longer on your home network. So, for example, you go to Spain and you pick up Telefonica ES. This means you are Roaming on a Spanish Network.


If you have any other questions please ask and I will gladly try to answer them and will keep editing the 1st thread to make it easier for everyone to read.

by Anonymous
on ‎01-10-2012 09:13
Great post, Darren. That's awesome. I'll add it to the FAQ. Cheers,
on ‎23-02-2013 00:19

Hi, I go to Spain 6-8 times a year (the joy of being retired) Up to now i have always had PAYG on a Motorola Krzr. When I get to Spain, I turned the phone on and it found Movistar network within seconds. At Xmas i was bought a Samsung Galaxy Y...it took me ages to get a network in Spain as it didnt connect automatically and I had to search through available networks and select the one i wanted.. however as from today I have changed to Contract and will become the owner of a Samsung S3 as from Monday. So my query is, how do I find the network on this phone when I land in Spain? Will it find it auto once phone is switched on or do I have to search?

Also, will I need to inform O2 that I am going abroad as I will be on contract?

by Anonymous
on ‎23-02-2013 00:30

I would call them on 202 just to make sure you are all set up.


The Galaxy will automatically pick up a network, if it doesn't you can go to Settings > More Settings > Mobile Networks > Network Operators and choose one manually.


And all the charges will be on www.o2.co.uk/international

on ‎23-02-2013 07:01

My S3 automatically pickups the Spanish network in Tenerife so you should have no problems.


Enjoy your break.

on ‎23-02-2013 13:46
Just make sure you have network selection set to "Auto" and ensure roaming check box is ticked.
on ‎23-02-2013 16:29

Thanks all... MI5 one query please? If I am in the UK can i do that now so its all preset before I go to Spain? Or will I incur any 'strange' charges?

on ‎23-02-2013 16:42
It's fine to set it up now and just leave it, unless you live near the south coast (as you might pick up French networks with roaming turned on).
by Anonymous
on ‎02-02-2014 15:20
I set up a pin on my voice mail so that I could retrieve my messages from a land line or skype phone. I did this because I thought it would be a cheaper way to listen to my voice mails. Is this assumption correct? By the way your summary of roaming is excellent.
on ‎02-02-2014 16:21

Where do you want to listen to voicemails? At home or abroad and are you contract or PAYG?

by Anonymous
on ‎06-03-2014 00:19

I have pay and go monthy for texts and calls - am mostly UK based
(I don't usually go online on my phone unless I find free WiFi)

I'm going to France tomorrow and will need to have web access for a week - just email, Facebook and Twitter, not downloading anything large

What's the cheapest way to do this?

I don't understand roaming.  Do I need to switch comething off?
Should I buy a bundle?

on ‎06-03-2014 08:24
You need to turn on data roaming and O2 will charge your £1.99 for 15mb of data daily. If you use up 15mb you get charged another £1.99 in the same 24 hour period, so try and stay below 15mb and it's just £1.99 per day. You can still use wifi when in France which will be free (assuming you can find a public connection). Calls and texts are charged as per the details on this link and make sure you top up with enough credit before you go as your UK allowances won't included when abroad.
by Anonymous
on ‎07-03-2014 14:09

I've bought O2 bolt ons for using the internet abroad (Poland).Do I need Data roaming switched on ?

on ‎07-03-2014 15:14

@Anonymous wrote:

Do I need Data roaming switched on ?

Yes you do.

by Anonymous
on ‎15-04-2014 19:22
My daughter recently went to Belgium on a school trip from the uk so we took out O2 Travel - on her overnight ferry crossing she picked up £40 of charges for roaming from USA and Bermuda - I immediately queried this at the time, and they said they would look into it and come back to me in 5 days - they didn't, and instead I got the bill with the charges still on. When I contacted customer care they said that, since the phone was on a ship, I should have phoned O2 as the system logs to the nearest place (Unless the Bermuda Triangle has grown over the last few years, I didn't realise that it now covered the North Sea). They now say that the charges will stand - disgraceful customer care and ripping off customers - I have 3 contracts with them which, as they expire, will automatically be switched to other users - I also intend to start a facebook and Twitter campaign to publicise this disgusting service - just be aware if you travel to Europe!
on ‎15-04-2014 19:25
Unfortunately it is the same for all mobile networks as the ships use their own systems which are quite often based on International servers.
We always advise not to connect to any ships signals unless it's a free WiFi service.
on ‎15-04-2014 19:35
as @MI5 says as soon as you lose the land based mobile network in the uk and then attach to a land based network in the eu you are subject to international roaming not covered by o2 travel and the £40 is luckily the cap on o2 (not all cap them on non eu) Before (excuse the pun ) jumping ship check the other networks roaming charges . But we customers on here know these issues .
on ‎15-04-2014 19:40

@adamtemp64 wrote:
£40 is luckily the cap on o2 (not all cap them on non eu) 

Indeed, this is very relevant.

EE, for example would have just let your Daughter run up a bill that could have been hundreds or thousands or pounds.

I read recently of someone who downloaded a music album when abroad on mobile data and it cost them something like £7000 !!!!

by Anonymous
on ‎16-04-2014 11:54

Oh dear, I am so confused!  I have a Nokia 6021 with O2 PAYG, and will be travelling to the BVI via US and USVI.  On my journey I will want to make just a few short calls - from US to UK, from USVI to UK, from US to BVI, and from BVI to UK.  Firstly, can anyone help me regarding what exactly I should dial for each of these including any relevant International Dialling Code?  And also, should connectivity on the phone be set to GPRS?  I guess I sound dense, but I hardly ever use my mobile and have little idea how it works!

‎16-04-2014 12:02 - edited ‎16-04-2014 12:05

All calls to the UK to landline numbers use the international code +44 and drop the first zero. Mobiles you normally just dial the number as you would if in the UK but on some US networks you do have to use the +44.

Some info here to call the BVI from the US.


Be awre of the call costs from the USA :

When in:       Calling:  

Landlines - per minute99p
Mobiles - per minute£1.49
Receiving calls - per minute99p
Sending texts - per message49p

Cost per MB of using data:

Data usage£6


on ‎16-04-2014 12:03

You do not need to dial any think just the usual uk number but note it will cost go here and enter the 2 countries to find out how much http://international.o2.co.uk/internationaltariffs/travelling_abroad I would avoid using any data very expensive just leave the phone setup as it is now for calls.

by Anonymous
on ‎31-05-2014 10:57

My home network is Uk but I am in India at mo, live chat is always unavailable and I can't call O2 as the international no. won't connect!. I am travelling Europe for next month, can I get a deal for this to make it cheaper?

on ‎31-05-2014 20:22
Only the O2 travel bolt on which should be on your account already.
by Anonymous
on ‎22-06-2014 16:10

I travel a lot and have been my O2 pay and go sim has always connected to a local network but not in TRNC (northern Cyprus) yet other O2 users had no problem

on ‎22-06-2014 16:16
Try searching manually for the same network that others can connect to.
on ‎22-06-2014 16:21

I would always connect manually in Cyprus especially if you are near the Turkish border as roaming charges differ between the two countries.

by Anonymous
on ‎25-06-2014 10:07 - last edited on ‎25-06-2014 10:19 by Moderator

I am in Cyprus Iwas in the north of the island and I coulc not use my phone now I am back in the south I cannot ring out I get the mssage outgoing calls barred. phone number

on ‎25-06-2014 10:12
Try a manual network search and choose a different network.
You should also remove your number from the forum as it is public.
on ‎25-06-2014 10:12
Have you turned the handset off and on since leaving the north? This sometime kicks in the euro location.
on ‎25-06-2014 10:14
Another possibility is that you have exceeded your bill limit and been temp barred.
You will have to contact CS to resolve this...
on ‎03-08-2014 00:16

Not sure if anyone will see this, but I can't create a new post for some reason.

I went on holiday a couple weeks ago and was going to turn all roaming off when I got a text from o2 when I arrived in Budapest saying "Keep your phone on in Europe, travel data is just £1.99 etc, etc" so I kept it on. I have just had a bill for £90ish, which I found out is because I went to Serbia for a couple days from Budapest. I'm really irritated because (and this is where I sound naive) I took the text literally, that when they said Europe they actually meant Europe, not the EU. Isn't this misleading? Is there any point me trying to argue this with someone on the phone? Usually I shut up and pay when I've misunderstood something, but this time I don't see why I should, and I really can't afford to pay this.

on ‎03-08-2014 00:58
It's got to be worth a call to CS on 202 to see if they can offer you any assistance either in reducing the bill or splitting it into manageable payments.
on ‎03-08-2014 00:58

Technically the charges are correct but it's certainly worth calling customer service. Whilst they will probably not refund all the charges they may well make some form of goodwill gesture. It's definitely worth a try. Others have been successful in your position.

on ‎03-08-2014 08:17

What a nightmare!

This text appears as soon as you land in Europe and turn your phone on. However my data roaming is turned off before I fly, so I tend to ignore it now.

As both jonsie and MI5 have said technically the charges are correct but it is worth a call to customer service to see if they will give a refund as a gesture of good will.

They have helped me in the past when I had a problem with calls to UK dropping out constantly...My bill was checked and amended

Best of luck Smiley Wink

on ‎03-08-2014 10:15

Yes please come back and let us know how you get on. Fingers crossed Smiley Happy

by Anonymous
on ‎04-08-2014 12:24
If you use someone's wifi while in a European country i.e. Hotel/bar etc.... How are you charged?
on ‎04-08-2014 12:29

Most wifi is free as long as you have login details. Some hotels may charge but you would pay the hotel directly yourself.

O2 make no charge for using wifi.

on ‎04-08-2014 18:42

Thanks everyone for the replies, I rang up today but the man wasn't very sympathetic. He said you should always call o2 before travelling to find out roaming costs, I said I wasn't planning on keeping my phone on so there was no need for me to call, I only kept it on because of the text from o2 saying "Keep your phone on in Europe ..." !

I persisted and he said he will fill out a dispute form. Obviously I'm not disputing the charges as they are correct, I was asking for a goodwill refund (just the £40 which they charged me for 2 days data in Serbia) because of the misleading text message. Hopefully he will make that clear on the form. I'm not very optimistic I will get anything.

on ‎04-08-2014 18:46
Good luck and a reasonable request from you - Let us know how you get on.....
on ‎04-08-2014 18:48

@aliceholla  You may get something if you were prepared to ring CS again...

I have had this happen to me as I said earlier and it really is down to ....

1) How polite you are (I am sure you were)

2) the CS you speak to

I wasnt happy with the lack of response I got and rang the next day...different CS.. different outcome

Money was re-credited back to my account

Worth a try?Smiley Very Happy

on ‎27-08-2014 11:11

On a recent holiday to the USA, my 'phone would not make or receive calls, it logged on to the local networks but apart from sending and receiving text messages that was it. 


The 'phone is an iPhone 3GS on pay as you go. 


What do I need to do to make the 'phone active please?





on ‎27-08-2014 11:36
Call 4445 or try live chat and see if International roaming is enabled on your account as a first step....
on ‎27-08-2014 14:13

Thank you for your help.  Calling 4445 got me nowhere.  What was the link you supplied?



on ‎27-08-2014 14:58
The link is to the various different methods of contacting customer service. If you follow the link you should see an option to try live chat but in all honesty I would have advised the calling route first.
on ‎27-08-2014 17:55

@Badcompany wrote:

Thank you for your help.  Calling 4445 got me nowhere.  What was the link you supplied?



Hi @Badcompany  Why did calling 4445 get you nowhere?

If this was the first time this phone had been taken abroad, its likely you would have needed to inform O2 before you went so that roaming could have been provisioned....

Ringing 4445 would have clarified this for you....(or should have told you why you had a problem)...

on ‎27-08-2014 17:57
I did wonder that myself, Den......?
by Anonymous
on ‎11-09-2014 16:04
I am going to Mauritius and there is free wifi there. I would like to use it but am worried that apps on my phone and ipad will incur roaming charges as most of the games are internet based. I want to take the ipad for iBooks as well. How do I stop any charges without removing the games?
on ‎11-09-2014 16:06

Just switch off mobile/cellular data so the devices can only connect via wifi.

on ‎11-09-2014 20:58
If you don't intend to use any "phone" functions you can take the sim card out completely....
by Anonymous
on ‎14-09-2014 12:27

In Spain I am unable to make calls to Spanish numbers, constantly told "this number has not yet been allocated to a customer". Even when I call O2 customer services The same message comes up. My provider here is Movistar. What should I do? My account shows I have made some purchases but I was not aware of this.

on ‎14-09-2014 12:31

@Anonymous wrote:

In Spain I am unable to make calls to Spanish numbers, constantly told "this number has not yet been allocated to a customer". Even when I call O2 customer services The same message comes up. My provider here is Movistar. What should I do? My account shows I have made some purchases but I was not aware of this.

Ok...what you need to do is log the Spanish numbers into your 'phonebook' and call from there.

They will not register if you dial them from the phone keypad. I have friends in Spain and when I ring them whilst there I always have to call from my contacts/phonebook

I am always on Movistar also..