In Mobile Phone terms roaming can be quite a complex topic. Roaming with your mobile phone

There are 2 different forms, or types, of Roaming that apply to Mobile Phones - these can also be sub-divided into a further 7 forms, or types, of Roaming.

In this article brought to you by we explore what is typically the most common form, or type, of roaming as applicable to Mobile Phones.

Forms or types of mobile phone roaming

There are 2 different broad forms of Roaming:

  • SIM Based;
  • Username / Password Based.

These two broad forms, or types, can be sub-divided into the following:

  • Inter MSC;
  • Inter-Standard;
  • International;
  • Mobile Signature;
  • National;
  • Permanent;
  • Regional.


In this article we focus on the type, or form, of roaming which is typically most common - SIM Based International.

International Roaming is the term applied when physically going beyond the national boundary of the Network Provider that you are connected to.

If, for example, you are in the United Kingdom and are connected to a United Kingdom network provider (referred to as your Home network) but travel outside of the United Kingdom, the term applied is that you are Roaming.

To be able to use your Mobile Phone, and SIM card, outside of your home country, there needs to have been a Roaming agreement made between your Home Country Network and the Network(s) of your host country.


To use your Mobile Phone and associated SIM card outside of your Home Network Provider's national boundary you are advised to establish that your Mobile Phone Make and Model is Roaming compatible, and to contact your Network Provider to ascertain any requirements to enable your SIM card for roaming before traveling.

What Happens When Roaming With Your mobile Phone ?

When you begin to make a call while outside your Home Country the network of your Host Country will detect that your SIM card is not registered within its system.

At this point the Host Network will make contact with your Home Network to obtain service information.

If, or when, your Host Country Network receives this information, the Host Country Network will begin to make a temporary record for your mobile device.

If there has been no roaming agreement made between your Home Country Network and Host Country Network, the ability to make calls will not be possible.

Mobile Phone Roaming Charges

The call costs associated with roaming can be very high.

As with calls made from within the United Kingdom to another Mobile Phone within the United Kingdom but on a different Network Provider which will incur Mobile Termination Rate charges, Host Country Networks will also charge your Home Country Network for placing calls across their network.

International Mobile Termination Rates are quite a bit higher than Home Country Mobile Termination Rates.

This is one reason why using your Mobile Phone while roaming can be more expensive than when you are in your home country.

Also, one particular point to note here is that when you are outside your Home Country and receive a voice call, the call can not only be more expensive for your caller, but there may also be call charges charged against your credit or bill.

That is you can be charged for receiving the call.

Receiving text messages while roaming remains free to the message recipient.


Get your friends and colleagues to communicate with you by means of text messages.

Tips to reduce mobile phone roaming costs

  • Ask friends and colleagues to send text messages instead of phoning through a voice call;
  • Buy an international SIM card to make cheaper calls while outside your Home Country;
  • Speak to your Network Provider about Roaming Packages that they may have available;

Roaming Charges And The EU (European Union)

In order to regulate the cost of Roaming Charges within member states of the European Union, the EU has set the following regulations as of 1st July 2010:

  • Monthly default data roaming cut-off limit of €50, unless a different limit is selected by the consumer where this is offered by the Network Provider;
  • Networks are obliged to send users a warning when 80% of the limit is reached;
  • Mobile Roaming call charges to be a maximum of €0.39 per minute for calls made, and €0.15 per minute for calls received;
  • Receiving Voice-mail messages are to be free;>

Prices to remain in force as of 1st July 2010:

  • Sending a text message while roaming in the EU is set at a maximum of €0.11;
  • Receiving a text message while roaming in the EU to remain free;
  • For roamed calls, Networks are to provide per-second billing after the first 30 seconds and immediately for calls received;
  • Citizens should be kept adequately informed of Roaming charges

All prices quoted exclude VAT.

With competition between Network Providers, as is the case between Network Providers competing with each other within the Home Country, Network Providers in the Host Countries are also competing against each other to gain market share.

The costs above are the maximum that are set by the EU.

Over time it is conceivable that the EU might revise the maximum costs, and revise other regulations, or introduce new regulations.

Therefore you might find that actual charges are lower than the maximums that are set by the EU.


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