.EU domain and Brexit
In a historical move, Britain left the European Union (EU) since 1st February 2020, which is known as Brexit. As a result, many of the UK-based .EU domain registrations became invalid, as UK is no longer part of EU.
The European Registry for Internet Domains (EURid), the domain registry in charge of overseeing the operations of the .EU domain, published a notice regarding this development. The aim of doing so is to help the public stay informed about the next steps to take.
Important dates and what happened
1 February 2020 – The UK left the EU.
1 February 2020 to 31 December 2020 – This is a transition period provided to all UK-based .EU registrants to continue to be able to hold and register a .EU domain name.
1 January 2021 – The transition period ended. From this date onwards, EURid enforced the following requirements to be eligible to register a .EU domain name:
· a Union citizen, independently of their place of residence;
· a natural person who is not a Union citizen and who is a resident of a Member State;
· an undertaking that is established in the Union; or
· an organisation that is established in the Union, without prejudice to the application of national law.
As UK is no longer a member of the EU, any UK-based registrants are not allowed to register or own a .EU domain from 1 January 2021 onwards. With that said, the circumstances below apply after said date:
1) EU citizens who are residing in the UK will remain eligible to hold a .EU domain name, provided they update their .EU registration data with their EU citizenship.
2) UK citizens residing in any EU Member State will remain eligible to hold a .EU domain name based on their residence. On the other hand, UK citizens residing outside of the EU Member States will no longer be eligible to hold a .EU domain name.
Important dates for existing .EU registrations
1 October 2020 – EURid sent an email notification to all UK registrants and their registrars to inform them about losing their eligibility to own a .EU domain name starting from 1 January 2021.
21 December 2020 – EURid sent another email notification to all UK registrants who did not demonstrate compliance and their registrars about the risks of non-compliance to their services.
1 January 2021 – EURid sent an email notification to all non-compliant UK registrants and their registrars to inform them that their .EU domain names no longer complies with the regulatory framework. They will be moved to the so-called “SUSPENDED” status until 31 March 2021 (extended to 30 June 2021).
NOTE: Domain name in the “SUSPENDED” status is unable to support any services, but may still be reinstated once the registration data is updated to meet the eligibility criteria.
1 July 2021 – EURid will send an email notification to all still non-compliant UK registrants and their registrars that their .EU domain names are not compliant with the regulatory framework. Therefore, they will be moved to the “WITHDRAWN” status. A “WITHDRAWN” domain name cannot support any services.
1 January 2022 – All domain names in the “WITHDRAWN” status will be REVOKED and subsequently released to become AVAILABLE for general registration in batches due to security reasons.
The effects of Brexit for UK-based .EU domain registrants
As expected, the Brexit move has brought about some negative effects for .EU domain registrations, as it did not go down well with the public, especially for UK-based registrants. For starters, British entities and individuals are no longer eligible to register or renew .EU domain from 1 January 2021 onwards. As a result, the number of .EU domain registrations from UK has seen a sharp decline. In fact, the decline started since 2018, way before the official exit date, as depicted in the graph below:
On the other hand, existing UK-based registrants who are actively using .EU domain previously might also be in a bind now, if they are not aware of Brexit’s development and timeline. If they have not prepared themselves during the transition period given by EURid, they might be facing some serious impacts as stated below:
1) Loss of traffic
They will see a drastic drop in Google rankings, as Google’s system has detected that their website has become invalid. Any links to the website from social media, newsletters, third-party websites, emails, etc., will not work. Precious backlinks to the website might be lost as other websites’ admins might change broken links on their websites.
2) Loss of sales, revenue and potential customers
Websites which do not work will result in users seeing error messages. They cannot complete their initial intended actions, which might include performing a transaction online, submitting an inquiry, check for info etc. As a result, they leave and it impacts these .EU domain name owners’ bottom line.
3) Cybersquatting risks
Cybersquatting is the act of registering the domain name of a brand, with the intention of selling it back to the said brand for a hefty profit. Malicious or not, any eligible parties are able to register and use .EU domain names, previously held by them, the legitimate parties or organisations.
4) Reputational risks
Malicious parties can take control of their .EU domain names and pretend to be them to scam their users and customers, resulting in loss of reputation, negative sentiment and negative word-of-mouth comments. Repairing damaged reputation can be very challenging for them.
5) Loss of email communication
A suspended .EU domain means it cannot be used for any services. Email is one such service, and they might lose all their email communication messages. Following up with customers and colleagues will become more challenging for them, where they need to spend time to update their contact details.
If you have customers who registered a .EU domain, it would be a great idea if you can remind them about the development of Brexit and how it affects their .EU domain names. It is advisable for you to follow up with them and be aware of the status of their .EU domain names. Do provide them with any necessary assistance, and as always WebNIC is ready to assist you, too, should you need assistance. If you have questions regarding .EU domain name, contact us and we will help you!
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