EU-wide SIM cards without fair use policy

Since June 2017 it is much easier to travel around the EU/EEA without needing to pick up a new SIM card in every country to avoid roaming fees. Whatever your view on the EU as an organization, this was definitely welcome news for us frequent travelers and nomads.

However, the end of roaming fees came with some limitations, the biggest of which is the “fair use” or “stable links” policy stating that:

As part of their fair use policy, your operator can monitor and check your roaming use over a 4 month period. If, during this period, you have spent more time abroad than at home and your roaming usage exceeds your domestic usage , your operator may contact you and ask you to clarify your situation. You will have 14 days to do so. If you continue to spend more time abroad than you do at home and your roaming consumption continues to exceed your domestic usage your operator may start applying a surcharge to your roaming consumption.

So it seems that these new roaming rules won’t fully benefit long-term nomads without a stable home country where they spend at least 50% of their time.

But that’s in theory.

In practice, phone operators may not always apply such a policy—even if they have stated one.

For example, I happened to have an Estonian Telia SIM card when the new roaming regulations came into force, and I’ve been using it all over Europe and have barely been in Estonia since then—still, more than two years later they haven’t limited my use abroad or applied any surcharges.

An additional benefit to using a SIM card from another EU country than where you currently are staying, is that you can call and text any numbers in the EU free of charge (as long as it would be free in the home country of the SIM).

So my intention of this thread is to collect information/data points about which carriers around Europe apply these limitations or not in practice.

These carriers don’t have a fair use policy capping your time spent abroad: :+1::+1:

  • None yet—let me know below!

These carriers have a fair use policy, but don’t apply the 50% time rule in practice: :+1:

  • Telia (Estonia)—€17/mo for 5GB, unlimited calls/text (post-paid)
  • Blau (Germany)—€13.99/mo for 3GB, unlimited calls/text
  • Free mobile (France)—€15.99/mo for 25GB, unlimted calls/text
  • KPN (Netherlands)—€25/mo for 5GB, unlimited calls/text (post-paid 2 year contract)

These do apply the rule: :-1:

  • MEO (Portugal)

Do you have any experience with other carriers? Please share them, and I’ll add them to the list!

6 Likes is a new, very good value carrier based in Spain, operating entirely in English. There is a fair use policy which is not tough to satisfy if you have a connection with Spain.

1 Like

From what I can tell from their terms they have a pretty standard 50% per 4 months time in Spain clause in their terms.

Do you have any experience suggesting they won’t apply it strictly?

1 Like

German does not seem to enforce the limits neither.

3GB of data, unlimited calls and texts for €13.99/month.

1 Like

They are owned by Gibtelecom (Gibraltar) and their target market is people with an international lifestyle such as expats on the Costa del sol and frontier workers, many of whom will be off the radar in Spain. You’re supposed to have a Spanish address but when I signed up the shop assistant was happy to put a standard Spanish address in and the monthly payment went on Revolut. As it’s new and small (launched this year) there’s a high likelihood they’ll be more focused on customer numbers than where the customer is. They won’t have a compliance team of nitpickers trying to bin customers - it’s not the Gibraltar way. :-).

Love your website by the way.


Hi, we be been using Free mobile, the French operator for more than a year now spending most of the year outside of France with no problem so far even if they have a fair policy rule. Our account is linked to a family member s one and is 15,99 euros for 25GB in a lot of countries with free calls and txt to France and within the country we are in.


KPN (Netherlands) has a somewhat vague requirement of “having a connection with the Netherlands” and claims they may verify this after 4 months of use outside the Netherlands. However, I’ve never heard anything from them and I’ve had their SIM for 10+ years, mostly outside the Netherlands.

1 Like

Ok, Iliad in Italy, 50 GB monthly in Italy + 4 GB in Europe.
Check it out.
Been using it for over a year, no hidden fees, no tricky things. Only 7.99€

I personally have the 30GB+3GB version but that can not be purchased anymore.

Edit: I maybe found the link to the 6.99€ version. It still says that you can register

1 Like

Well, it doesn’t solve the problem for nomads because it is not worldwide.
I have invested in a skyroam and that takes care of the data-part for 99 $ a month, but the phone is just still not valid in all countries.

I can’t get Google phone because I don’t live in the states and all other options have problems with texts.

It’s about my only frustration as I want to live in Colombia but that country is not on the list of countries my phone company offers service in yet =(

Orange (Spain) does enforce the “fair use” policy. They charge when being outside Spain after a while, although I don’t see a pattern. Using the card in Spain for a few days does not reset the free roaming.

This is their fair use policy:

Edit: I just switched from post-paid to pre-paid and the customer specialist at the shop told me that apparently for pre-paid customers they don’t keep track of any fair usage policy. I have used it abroad after switching and no charges so far. We’ll see as time goes by.


Hi all, I’m not sure if there’s a fair use policy, but I can share what I use, which has worked pretty well so far:

I have a Vodafone UK SIM card w/ a pay-as-you-go plan. (I don’t use my phone very much anyway.) The only caveat is they only ship the SIM cards to a UK address OR you have to purchase in the UK. (So I just shipped it to my mate in Wales and he shipped it to me.)

Once you get it, my advice is to call the customer service to activate it and make sure it works. I had a little issue because I activated in Poland, not the UK, it didn’t really recognize my number so I couldn’t make or receive calls, but could use data. Fortunately, they just gave me a new number and it’s worked like a charm since then.

Hope this helps!

They have roaming packages also valid in USA and other countries. Do you know if those can be used with a pay as you go subscription?

That I’m not sure. Since this topic is about the EU, and because I plan to stay in Europe exclusively, i’m in what Vodafone calls the “Roam Free Zone.” (it’s basically all of the EU and a few other countries.) And yes, that’s part of the pay-as-you-go package. You can go online and see the countries they cover — I’ve enjoyed the plan so far.


Could you elaborate on your experience with Vodafone? I have been using Giff Gaff (UK) pay-as-you-go in Poland for almost 2 months now (mostly data) and just received a text that in two weeks they will start charging me by taking money out of my credit rather than my monthly package, they will charge £0.36 per MB, so it will get incredibly expensive. This tells me that Giff Gaff does enforce their fair use policy and is one to skip unfortunately. I will switch providers once back in UK.

Still looking for alternatives so keep the comments coming, I need a UK based number (I have a UK address).


Hi there, sorry to hear you went thru that. I’m afraid I’m in the same boat. After Brexit, all carriers changed their roaming policy. If you don’t use your number within the UK for a few months, it becomes a problem. I had to stop using Vodafone and just go w/ local carriers. Do you really need a UK number though? Can they just ring you up on a European number?


i normally live in the UK and use giffgaff which have a 63-day roaming policy meaning you can use your existing goodybag package as if you were in the UK - very user friendly - but my question is what if you go to Canada - and want another carrier for a month? has anyone used Lyca??

Hello All,

It looks like Sky Mobile in UK is the only offering without fair use policy, they have pretty good sim only plans at the moment - eg. £15 for 30GB per month, and the unused data keeps rolling over for up to 3 years. When roaming you have to pay £2 per day if you want to keep using your normal data allowance in EU/EEA, other than that there seems to be no catches or limits at all. It can get relatively pricey if you want to use the data everyday (about £75/month) so its not for everyone.

I haven’t tested it yet myself but at such a price point I wouldn’t expect any limitations since it looks like a good deal for the provider. If I can’t find anything else then I will switch to Sky next year. Let me know what you think.


1 Like

I recommend Xpatfone

Currently only provide a UK number but others are coming

£8.99 a month for an app that gives voice and importantly SMS plus apps such as Whatsapp. Then you just need a cheap local data SIM or use wifi worldwide.

Also includes unlimited UK, US or Irish voice calls from anywhere in the world.

The best bit is it is a for life change. I have a lot of SMS users for two factor authentication and changing over those such as banks takes a lot of hassle.

1 Like

A pay-as-you-go model from the Austrian provider “Georg” has worked for me.

Perhaps pay-as-you-go is a way to get around the fair use policy because every month is “new”?

1 Like

It really depends on the provider, I had a pay-as-you-go sim from giffgaff in UK and after two months I got an SMS saying that they will disable my service in 2 weeks for being outside the UK for too long, so I left them for Sky mobile.