Brexit and .EU Domain Names – A warning for UK registrants

Despite the UK having officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020, the Brexit transition period has been in place maintaining the status quo until 31 December 2020. However, with the end of transition period just around the corner, there are a number of important factors for businesses to be considering including the potential impact on .EU domain names.

Importantly, from 1 January 2021, UK Registrants will no longer be eligible to hold a .EU domain name. Each of the following would be classed as UK Registrants:

  • UK undertakings or organisations established in the UK but not otherwise in the EU;
  • UK citizens who are not resident of an EU member state; and
  • UK residents who are not EU citizens.

EURid’s guidance
EURid, the registry which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the .eu Top Level Domain, has issued guidance which sets out that:

  • UK Registrants should have received an email informing them that they will lose eligibility from 1 January 2021 on 1 October 2020 unless they can demonstrate that they are otherwise eligible to hold the domain name (with a further email to be sent on 21 December 2020);
  • Domain names held by UK Registrants as of 1 January 2021 will be withdrawn and cease to function (including no longer supporting email or website functionality); and
  • The withdrawn domain names will not be made available to third parties until 1 January 2022.

The impact of Brexit on UK Registrants
In order to avoid the loss of valuable access to a .EU domain name, or the impact of websites and email failing in early January, UK Registrants should:

  1. Determine if they are otherwise eligible to hold the .EU domain name and update their registrations accordingly (e.g. having the domain name held by an office in another EU member state);
  2. Consider whether similar eligibility restrictions could apply to EU Member State Country Code Top Level Domains such as .fr or .it; and
  3. If no longer eligible to hold a .EU domain name:
    a. transfer their internet presence to a different top level domain (e.g., .com, etc) well in advance of 1 January 2021 and take advantage of the intervening time period to direct the .EU domain name to the new presence; and
    b. Migrate services or functionality linked to the .EU domain name (email addresses or virtual private networks) in order to minimise potential losses.

By Simon Casinader

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