In our April 2018 newsletter, we shared the news that .eu domain names will no longer be available for UK residents and entities post-Brexit. Since then Brexit has been postponed twice, but the new date is fast-approaching. In case of no deal, as of 31 October 2019 over 300,000 .eu domain names will potentially be affected. This article updates you on what happened since April and what steps to take next.
Quick recap: what is the issue here?
The .eu Top Level Domain is subject to an EU legal framework that reserves the right to register and own .eu domain names to EU citizens, non-EU citizens residing in the EU and undertakings or organisations established in the EU.[i]
Post-Brexit, British citizens residing outside the EU as well as British companies and organisations will no longer meet these so-called eligibility criteria. The .eu domain name Registry – EURid – has been given the power to revoke any domain name held by a non-eligible party and has been instructed by the European Commission to actively pursue revocation in case of no deal. For a more detailed overview, please read our previous article on this topic.
What are the plans for .eu domains?
Subject to confirmation by the European Commission, EURid is currently working on the basis of the following timeline in case of no-deal:
- On 24 October 2019 EURid will set in motion its plans for revocation by sending out e-mail notifications to all registrants of .eu domains having GB (Great Britain) or GI (Gibraltar) as the residence country code.
- Registrants will have until 1 January 2020 to remedy their non-compliance with the .eu eligibility criteria. At New Year's, time's up and any remaining .eu domains with a GB and GI country code (and no EU citizen code) will be withdrawn. This means that the corresponding website and also any connected e-mail addresses will no longer function.
- On 1 November 2020 the relevant .eu domains will be revoked and become open to registration by any eligible third party.
So it's time to check whether any of your .eu domains are registered with a GB or GI country code to see if the next steps apply to you. While you're checking, make sure your registered e-mail address is up-to-date, since that will be the only form of communication used by EURid.
Next steps for keeping your .eu domain name safe
Although the outcome of Brexit is still uncertain and with that the consequences for British owned .eu domains, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid the negative effects of a revocation:
1. The simplest solution for multinational companies: transfer your .eu domain to an EU-subsidiary outside the UK before January 2020.
2. If you're a UK citizen residing in the EU or EU citizen residing in the UK, make sure your contact details are up to date before January 2020, so you stay eligible to own the .eu domain.
3. If the above two options don't apply to you, it may be worth setting up an alternate domain and start redirecting traffic there as soon as possible. While redirection will no longer be possible once the .eu domain is withdrawn, starting now will provide some time for search engines to pick up on the redirect, to minimize impact on your search engine optimization (SEO), and to adapt your marketing.
Although January 2020 is the main deadline to keep in mind, do check whether your .eu domain doesn't expire before then. As of the 1st of November, domains with GB or GI country codes will not be automatically renewed, so action should be taken before the expiry date.
One final tip: while some have advised switching your .eu domain to an EU-based proxy service, proxy services are currently not allowed under EURid's Domain Name Registration Policy if they are used by a non-eligible party.
[i] Applicable as of 19 October 2019, see article 3 of Regulation (EU) 2019/517.