Enjoying online content without borders
Regulation (EU) 2017/1128 — portability of online content services throughout the EU
It aims to ensure that subscribers to an online content service in their own EU country, such as films, sports events, eBooks, video games and music, can access it when they are temporarily staying in other EU countries.
An online content service provider must enable subscribers visiting another EU country to have access to its paid-for service in the same way as in their country of residence. This can be video on demand (such as Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Mubi or Chili TV), online TV (such as Viasat’s Viaplay, Sky’s Now TV or Voyo), music streaming (such as Spotify, Deezer or Google Music) or online game marketplaces (such as Steam or Origin).The content available in other EU countries should be:
the same content,
on the same range and number of devices,
for the same number of users,
with the same functionality, and
with no extra charges.
There is no obligation to provide similar quality unless this is agreed with the subscriber, but the quality must not be deliberately reduced, and the subscriber must be informed about the quality of delivery before the service is provided.
Any service provided in another EU country will be treated as if occurring solely in the subscriber’s home EU country.
At the conclusion of a contract and on its renewal, the provider must verify reasonably and effectively the subscriber’s EU country of residence using no more than two of the following sources of information:
an identity card or any other valid identity document confirming the subscriber’s EU country;
subscriber payment details of the subscriber;
the place where the device supplying the service is installed;
a licence fee payment, such as for public service broadcasting;
an internet, telephone or similar contract linking the subscriber to the EU country;
electoral registration information, if publicly available;
payment of local taxes, if publicly available;
a utility bill linking the subscriber to the EU country;
the billing or postal address;
a declaration by the subscriber confirming their address in the EU country;
an internet protocol address check to identify the EU country where the subscriber accesses the online content service.
The provider does not have to make their service available in another EU country if the subscriber fails to present information allowing it to verify their country of residence. The processing of personal data must be proportionate to achieving its purpose and complying with Directives 95/46/EC and 2002/58/EC.
Rights holders can authorise the use of their content without verification of an EU country of residence and can withdraw this authorisation by giving reasonable notice to the provider. The contract between the rights holder and the provider must not restrict this right of withdrawal. Any contractual rule, between the subscriber, provider or rights holders, contrary to this regulation is not enforceable.
Where a free service is provided, the provider may allow access and use to subscribers who are temporarily present in an EU country if their EU country of residence is verified in accordance with the regulation.
The European Commission will submit a report, together with any legislative proposal, on the regulation’s operation by 2 April 2021 in the light of legal, technological and economic developments. This will include how the verification is working and whether a review is necessary, paying special attention to the impact on small businesses and to the protection of personal data.
The possibility to have access to online content services when travelling comes soon after EU consumers have started to benefit from new mobile telephone roaming rules as part of the EU’s digital single market strategy. Since 15 June 2017, people who travel periodically pay domestic prices for mobile internet, subject to fair use, irrespective of where they are travelling in the EU.
The regulation applies from 1 April 2018.
Cross-border portability of online content services (European Commission)
Travel with your online content across the EU — factsheet (European Commission)
Digital single market and cross-border portability of online content services — press release (European Commission).
Regulation (EU) 2017/1128 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2017 on cross-border portability of online content services in the internal market (OJ L 168, 30.6.2017, pp. 1-11)
Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) 2017/1128 have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A digital single market strategy for Europe (COM(2015) 192 final, 6.5.2015)