What we know so far
When Britain leaves the EU on 29th March, UK based individuals and organisations will no longer be eligible to have a .eu domain for their websites. This is because .eu domains are strictly for the use of organisations located within the European Union and there is, currently, no arrangement under the withdrawal agreement for UK businesses to keep their .eu domains. In this post, we’ll look at what this means for your organisation and what you will need to do.
The European Commission has issued a notice which stated that when the UK leaves the EU, any organisation which is established in the UK but not in the EU, together with individuals who reside in the United Kingdom, will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names.
Additionally, any individual or UK company that has a .eu registered domain will not be allowed to renew it as any accredited .eu registrars will be forbidden from processing new registrations or renewals.
The dates from which these rules apply is 1st January 2021 in the case of a withdrawal deal being agreed or, if there were a no-deal Brexit, from 30th March 2019.
How this will affect UK individuals and organisations
What happens depends on whether the UK and EU can strike a withdrawal deal. For this reason, EURid has developed two different scenarios – one for a deal situation and one in the event of a no-deal. Of course, with negotiations on-going, even these can be subject to change.
The no-deal scenario
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then the following measures will apply to UK and Gibraltar based organisations.
- No new registrations: Registrations of .eu domains will be prohibited from any individual or organisation, where the Whois registrant country codes are either GB or GI, from 30th March 2019.
- Existing domain holders become non-compliant: From 30th March, .eu domain registrants with GB or GI country codes will be notified that their domain name no longer complies with the .eu regulatory framework. As a result, they will have until 30th May 2019 to demonstrate compliance. This means they will need to prove that they are legally established in one of the remaining 27 EU countries and update their contact data accordingly. During this time, any .eu domain names will remain active.
- Possible actions by .eu registrants: Up to 30th May 2019, registrants can make a number of changes to their contact details, if applicable, such as updating their phone numbers, email and physical addresses, adding a new contact, changing name server and DNSSEC details. They can also transfer the domain name to a new registrant who is based within the EU.
- Prohibited actions: From 30th March, any .eu registrant from the UK or Gibraltar will face a number of restrictions, for example, they will not be able to transfer the domain name to any other organisation within the UK, they cannot extend registration unless it is being transferred to a registrant within the EU and the domain cannot be automatically renewed. Indeed, following expiry, the domain will be given immediate withdrawn status.
- Domains cease to operate: From 30th May all .eu domains registered to UK or Gibraltar based organisations or individuals will be withdrawn and, as such, will no longer operate. As a result, you will not be able to use them to host websites or send and receive emails.
- You lose your domain: One year following a no-deal Brexit, on 30th March 2020, all the affected domains are to be revoked. Not only does this mean you will lose control of them, it also means that they will be offered within the EU for others to register.
- Legal cases: Some organisations will, no doubt, wish to take legal action, either to prevent their branded domain being used by another company or because they believe they have a right to continue using the .eu domain. In such circumstances, the registration of these domains will go on hold until the legal cases are resolved. During this period, the domains will cease to function (after 30th March 2019). If the court decides that the domain name should stay with the UK organisation, it will still be withdrawn unless registration is transferred to within the EU.
- EU citizens in the UK: The points mentioned above apply to all .eu domains registered within the UK, including any which belong to EU citizens currently living in the United Kingdom. As a result, these citizens would also lose their eligibility to register or renew their .eu domain name following Brexit. While the new EU regulatory framework, which comes into force later in 2019, may make them eligible again, from May 2019, however, their websites will be withdrawn and cease to operate.
Leaving the EU with a Brexit deal
If the UK and EU agree on a withdrawal deal, then there is a planned transitional period which ends on 31st December 2020, though this could be extended. In such a circumstance, the actions above would remain the same, though the dates for ineligibility, withdrawal and revocation would be different. Here are the main dates on which things would happen:
- End of registrations: New registrations of .eu domains by UK organisations would end on 1st January 2021
- End of compliance: On 1st January 2021, registrants of .eu domains from the UK or Gibraltar will be notified that they no longer comply with the .eu regulatory framework and will be given two months to make any arrangements to comply.
- Withdrawal and revocation: If, after 2nd March 2021, registrants remain ineligible for a .eu domain, the domain names will be withdrawn and will cease to operate. After 12 months, on 1st January 2022, such domains will be revoked and become available for others within the EU to register.
If you are a UK based individual or organisation with a .eu domain, you will need to move quickly. If this is your primary domain, you should register another domain, such as .co.uk. or .org as soon as possible so that you can ensure your website and emails continue to function. You can transfer your website to your new domain and redirect visitors to your .eu domain. You can also set up new email addresses and forward emails sent to old addresses, though it will be crucial to let all your contacts know of the changes.
If you are a UK based individual or organisation with a .eu domain, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU means you will no longer be eligible to use it after Brexit. You may remain eligible if you have part of your business operating from within the EU and can legitimately transfer the registration to your European branch. For everyone else, your .eu domain will eventually, Brexit deal or no-deal, be withdrawn and revoked. If there is a no-deal, then that gives you just over one month to put things into place and three months before the domain stops working – so you’ll need to move fast.
If you need to register a new domain, check out our domain page.
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