Deal or no deal: UK-registered .EU domains to cease post-Brexit

If your organisation uses a .EU domain name and is based within the UK, you should be aware that Brexit will affect the continued validity of such domain names and you must ensure that you have a contingency plan in place to deal with the consequences of the UK’s departure from the EU in this respect.

EURid, the current registry for .EU domains, recently released a notice detailing the consequences of Brexit for those currently holding .EU domain names registered with a Great Britain (GB) or Gibraltar (GI) country code.

If you fall within this category, there are key steps you need to take to ensure that your business is not left without a valid domain name post-Brexit.

What will happen if we leave the EU on 29 March 2019 without a transition period?

Post-Brexit, it will no longer be possible for businesses within the UK to register a .EU domain name.  If your organisation currently has such a domain name, you should be aware of the following timeline:

30 March 2019 (midnight):

Deadline for businesses within the UK to register a .EU domain name.

30 March 2019:

From this date, businesses have two months to either:

  • change contact data to show that their business is established within the European Union; or
  • transfer the business's domain name to an individual or businesses with a non GB or GI country code.

30 May 2019:

If businesses with a GB or GI country code fail to demonstrate that their business is established within the European Union, their .EU domain will be withdrawn.

30 March 2020:

Withdrawn domain names will be officially revoked and other businesses will be able to register those domain names.

What if my domain name is currently the subject of legal action?

In this circumstance, the relevant domain name will be put on hold. If the action continues beyond 30 May 2019, it will be suspended. If the ultimate result of the action is a decision that the domain should remain UK/Gibraltar registered, the domain name will be withdrawn.

What happens if we depart from the EU on 31 December 2020 (or on a later date) after a transition period?

In this scenario, the timeline will be slightly different:

31 December 2020:

Deadline for businesses to register a .EU domain name.

1 January 2021:

Businesses have two months to update contact data or transfer their domain name to an entity or individual with a non GB or GI country code.

2 March 2021:

Businesses with a .EU domain name that have not updated their contact data will have this domain name withdrawn.

1 January 2022:

Withdrawn domain names will be revoked and offered publicly for registration.

Tips and important things to remember

It has recently been reported that there are currently approximately 250,000 .EU domain names, affecting British registrants, which will be completely annulled should businesses fail to take any action to deal with Brexit. If your business owns one of these domain names, you must take action as soon as possible.

Make sure your business is not caught out, by doing the following:

  • If your business does have a subsidiary within one of the remaining EU Member States, it would be advisable to transfer your organisation’s ownership of any .EU domain name to this subsidiary as soon as possible.
  • Alternatively, consider creating a “top-level domain”, such as “.com” to operate along side your .EU domain name prior to Brexit. This will ensure minimal disruption if your .EU domain name becomes invalid.

Your organisation should be aware that, if it loses its .EU domain name, any email addresses that operate through that domain will no longer work.

If you would like more information, please see EURid’s Brexit notice.

This article was co-written by Charlotte Fleming.

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