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What happens to my .eu domain name and UK website after Brexit?

8th March 2019 by Tim

If you're a UK citizen or a UK organisation and your website uses a .eu domain name, there’s a nasty surprise on the horizon that you need to be aware of...

Brexit is set to blow away your .eu domain name, with varying degrees of disruption for your site and your business.

Today we're looking at who the Brexit .eu domain name changes affect, and what your options are for dealing with it.

What is the Brexit .eu domain name issue, who does it affect and when will it happen?

When Britain leaves the EU, ‘UK-only’ entities will become ineligible to run a .eu website.

The timing of this depends on whether a last-minute deal is struck, a Brexit postponement agreed, or an immediate Brexit ensues.  Assuming the worst, we will leave the EU on 29th March 2019 and the following will take effect immediately…

  1. .eu domain names will no longer be eligible to be renewed or registered by UK citizens or UK-only organisations
  2. Any person or organisation holding a .eu domain name registered with a GB/GI (country code) will receive notice (by email on 23rd March and again on 30th March) that their registered information is no longer compliant with .eu domain name rules.
  3. You’ll have 2 months (deadline 30th May 2019) to comply with the change in regulations.

How long do you have to sort out the Brexit .eu domain name issue?

You have from NOW until 30th May 2019 to make your arrangements and minimise disruption.

During this 2-month period you will be able to:

  1. Amend the following contact details for the domain name:
    • Phone number
    • Email address
    • Street address
    • Postal code
    • Country code
    • Contact name or linking a new contact person
  2. Make changes to your NameServers and DNSSEC
  3. Transfer the domain name to a non-GB/GI registrant
  4. Delete the domain name

What happens on 30th May?

If you don’t take any of the above measures to retain your .eu domain name, it will be WITHDRAWN on 30th May 2019. That means your domain name will stop working immediately.

To be clear, this does not mean the domain name becomes available to others. It still remains assigned to you in the .eu registry database, so you will be able to update your information to meet the new regulations, so the name can resume.

What happens on 30th March 2020?

The final deadline in the lifespan of your .eu domain name, is 30th March 2020.  If you have not taken action to retain it, your domain name will be REVOKED on that date. That means your registration is removed and it becomes available for sale.

So, what can you do? What are your options?

If you have a .eu domain name registered to the UK (GB/GI), here are your options.

  1. Transfer the domain name to someone/something with eligible EU credentials.
  2. Make immediate plans to switch your website to a different TLD (Top Level Domain) like a .com, .net, or .co.uk.
  3. Set up a business presence in the EU.  Did you know you can become an EU e-Resident which will make you eligible to retain your domain name from a virtual address in the EU?

Let’s look at the options in more detail.

Transferring your domain name to an eligible entity.

If you have a family member or trusted friend with EU nationality and postal address, you can transfer the registration to their name and address to meet the criteria.

Obviously if your business has an office registered in the EU, you can update the domain registration details to that.  Then everything continues as normal.

Change your domain name completely.

If the option above isn't possible, or the need to retain your .eu domain name isn’t so important, you should make immediate plans to switch to a different domain name like a .com or .co.uk

You need to do this ASAP though, because your website has been indexed for the .eu domain name, and it takes time for Google and Bing to update all the pages they have indexed, to your new domain name.

If you decide to change your domain name, we recommend you do it NOW!

Set up '301 Redirects' that inform Google about a permanent change in your website address. Give Google as much time as possible to update your listings.

Setting up a business in the EU. Becoming an e-Resident of Estonia.

If you're already planning to set up a business in the EU, this news may well speed up that process. If that isn't you, there is still another option.

You may or may not know, but the Republic of Estonia has heavily invested in its technology sector, and it recently opened its virtual borders so anyone in the world, regardless of nationality or global location, can apply to become an ‘e-Resident’.

E-Residency is a government issued digital identity that provides you with access to Estonia’s e-services and business environment. It enables you to start up an EU based business with a fixed address in Estonia, and run it from anywhere in the world.

There's a 3 part set-up process which involves:

  1. Becoming an e-resident (fill in a form, pay €100, wait for approval, collect your e-resident ID card from the Estonian Embassy – it lasts for 5 years)
  2. Apply for a business (there are services in Estonia that will set up a virtual business for you with a fee of €190)
  3. Set up any additional services you may need (from bank accounts to accountants etc). You probably won’t need any of that if you’re just looking for a business address for your domain name.

For full information on how to become an e-Resident of Estonia, visit the Estonian government website.

While there isn't a perfect solution (aside of staying in the EU with business as usual), we hope this helps explain the options in simple terms, so you can make an informed choice about what to do.

Knowing that there is an option available, where you can keep your .eu domain name even if you are 'UK only',will offer a viable solution where the alternative options stand to be more disruptive or damaging to your business or brand.

Time is running out though, so think now and act AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

If you're affected and would like some help to work out the best option, feel free to get in touch. We're here to help.