In this article we discuss the implications of a hard Brexit, that is leaving the EU without an agreement on our future relationship, will have on any .EU top-level domains (TLDs) that you currently own or plan to purchase in the future.
In a statement made by the European Commission on 28/03/2018, unless otherwise agreed, UK citizens and businesses will no longer be able to register new .EU domains - nor will they be able to renew domains bought before 29/03/2019. Additionally, you would become ineligible to hold the domains which you have currently registered. The statement is unclear about what would happen to current registrants; they do state that they are within their right to revoke these domains without notice:
"As a result of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, a holder of a domain name does no longer fulfil the general eligibility criteria... the Registry for .eu will be entitled to revoke such domain name on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts."
The European Commission is looking to make the current .EU domain regulations more flexible, allowing citizen from the European/European Economic Area to register for a domain. At the time of writing, there has been no further news on this. Should the UK leave the EU without any arrangements in place, the UK will be a third country and this proposed flexibility would still not apply.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published their guidance on 21/12/18. The advice is to check whether you are eligible to continue using an EU domain. If you are, then there's no reason to worry. Otherwise, the safest course of action is to assume that your domain would be deleted and to have a plan in place. The DCMS suggests getting legal advice:
"You may wish to seek advice from your local domain name registrar on whether the terms of your contractual agreement provide for any recourse in the event of revocation of a .eu registration. You may also want to seek legal advice."
However, there are a few things you can do yourself to ensure you maintain a continuous presence in the event of your domain disappearing.
Buy an alternative name, at the time of writing there another 1,212 options. You wouldn't be eligible for them all, as some have requirements such as citizenship. The safest bet is to find the
.co.uk alternative for your business. If you are a charity, then you would be able to switch to
.org.uk. There are plenty of other options such as
.uk and even industry-specific ones such as
Set your new domain to point to your current web server. Depending on how your site is set up this could be a quick task or a very involved one. The first point of call is to contact the developer who configured your site in the first place. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us, and our experts will help you out.
Make sure your old .EU domain is set up to redirect traffic to your new domain. To make this redirect your developer will need to configure your domain settings. Consequently, you will not lose any traffic until the domain vanishes and search engines will also know to make the connection between these domains.
Update your website to reflect your new domain, depending on your site set up you might be able to do this yourself.
Update your email address to reflect your new domain and also ensure that any mail from your old address gets sent to your new address.
Update all your print items to let your users know your new domain. If you are considering legal action, it may be worth keep track of the additional expenses here, speak to your solicitor for more information on this.