Go back to menu

What will happen to .eu top level domain names in a no-deal Brexit?

Two scenarios

27 February 2019

While uncertainty around the UK withdrawal from the EU continues, a recent notice from the European Commission has confirmed that in the event of a crash out Brexit, "the EU regulatory framework for the .eu Top Level Domain will no longer apply to the United Kingdom". Organisations established in the UK, and individuals residing in the UK will, therefore, no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names, or to renew existing .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date.

What does this mean?

In practice, this means that where the holder of a .eu domain name no longer fulfils the eligibility criteria (i.e. a company with its registered office in the EU, an organisation established within the EU or natural person residing in the EU) the Registry for .eu will be entitled to actively remove .eu domains and related websites from the Registry without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts. The domain names would be revoked, making registrants automatically unable to access their .eu websites or emails. The timing for such revocations will vary depending on the UK's withdrawal date from EU.

Scenario 1 – the UK crash out of the EU with a no-deal Brexit on 29 March 2019

From 29 March 2019, registrants based in the UK with a Great Britain or Gibraltar country code will not be allowed to register new .eu domain names. Existing holders of .eu domain names will be notified by email on 23 March 2019 of the forthcoming non-compliance of their registration information and given the opportunity to change their registered address pertaining to the domain name to an eligible address within the EU. On 30 March 2019, they will be notified once again of the change and given until 30 May 2019 to update their registrant information. If holders have not updated this information by 30 May 2019 their domain names will be withdrawn, meaning they no longer function and cannot support any active services, such as websites or emails. The withdrawn domain names will remain on the .eu registry database, unavailable for the public to purchase and can be re-activated if the eligibility criteria are satisfied. 12 months following withdrawal the applicable domain names will be revoked and become publicly available for purchase.

Scenario 2 – following a planned transitional period, the UK leave the EU on the 31 December 2020 (or at a later date if withdrawal is suspended) and the plan does not provide for .eu domain names

From 1 January 2021, registrants based in the UK with a Great Britain or Gibraltar country code will not be allowed to register new .eu domain names. Existing holders of .eu domain names will be notified by email on 23 December 2020 of the forthcoming non-compliance of their registration information and given the opportunity to change their registered address pertaining to the domain name to an eligible address within the EU. On 1 January 2021, they will be notified once again of the change and given until 2 March 2021 to update their registrant information. If holders have not updated this information by 2 March 2021 their domain names will be withdrawn. Twelve months following withdrawal the applicable domain names will be revoked and become publicly available for purchase.

What should you do?

Companies with affiliates located within the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway can modify their registered address to that of an entity with an eligible address, within the applicable timeframe.

Those without eligible affiliates, may wish to consider re-registering with another top level domain such as '.co.uk' or '.com' if they are available. Alternatively, some providers already offer services whereby you can purchase an .eu compliant 'Local Presence' who will, usually for a small fee, act as the authorised contact on your account. This option enables continued use of .eu.   

This information, however, remains subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in an agreed withdrawal agreement. Further guidance can be found at https://eurid.eu/en/register-a-eu-domain/brexit-notice/.

This article was written by Clifford Chance Trainee, Nicole Kidney