Since the United Kingdom (UK) will be a third country after the end of the transition period (ending December 31, 2020) EU law will no longer apply[1]. This change of the legal situation also has effects on the .eu domain names.

Amid the transition period from 1 February 2020 through to 31 December 2020 during which the UK remains part of the EU, the European Commission has now communicated what the effect of Post-Brexit will have on .eu domain names for individuals and/or companies established/residing in the UK.

On May 26, 2020 – almost halfway through the transition period – the European Commission announced the consequences for .eu domains held by stakeholders established in the UK.

According to Article 4(2)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 733/2002, as amended by Regulation (EU) 2019/517, as of 19 October 2019 only the following persons, undertakings and organizations are eligible to register .eu domain names:

  1. a Union citizen, independently of their place of residence;
  2. a natural person who is not a Union citizen and who is a resident of a Member State;
  3. an undertaking that is established in the Union; or
  4. an organisation that is established in the Union, without prejudice to the application of national law.

As soon as the transition period has come to an end, undertakings and organizations that are established in the UK but not in the EU and third country nationals (i.e. non-EU citizens) who reside in the UK will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names. These undertakings, organizations and third country nationals will also no longer be eligible to renew .eu domain names registered before the end of the transition period.

As a result of this provision, the EURid (European Registry of Internet Domain Names) will be entitled to revoke such domain names on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts.

EURid already has announced that as from January 1, 2021 it will not allow any registration of new .eu domain names by UK registrants. Also EURid will allow neither the transfer, nor the transfer through update, of any domain to a UK registrant.

The procedure for the cancellation of existing registrations will happen in a three step process:

  1. In a first step, EURid announced that all UK registrants and their registrars will be notified by email about the loss of their eligibility as of 1 January 2021 unless they demonstrate their compliance with the .eu regulatory framework by updating their registration data before 31 December 2020.
  2. In a second step, EURid will notify by email all UK registrants who did not demonstrate continued compliance with the eligibility criteria and their registrars about the inevitable consequence of imminent non-compliance with the .eu regulatory framework.
  3. In a third and last step on 1 January, 2021, EURid announced to again notify by email all UK registrants and their registrars that their domain names are consequently withdrawn, since they are no longer compliant with the .eu regulatory framework. Once withdrawn the domain name will be removed from the zone file and will therefore not be able to support active services as websites or email. The respective .eu domain names will be revoked and available for registration again one year after the transition period ends, namely on January 1, 2022.

Our recommendation

For holders of .eu domain names in the UK, we suggest to update the registration data before 31 December 2020. This could be done by, e.g., the indication of a legally established entity in one of the EU Member States or by an update of the residence to an EU Member State. Another possibility would be the proof of their citizenship of an EU Member State – regardless of their residence. In case that an update of the .eu domain name is not possible, UK holders of the .eu domain names should register alternative domains (such as .uk or .com) as soon as possible.

As far as citizens of EU Member States are concerned, that reside in the UK, they will remain eligible to hold .eu domain names after the transition period ends. However, those citizens will have to update their registration data and provide evidence for their citizenship of an EU Member State. Also UK citizens who reside in an EU Member State will remain eligible to hold .eu domain names after the transition period ends. This applies not for UK citizens who reside outside an EU Member State.

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[1] The following assessment is based on the current status quo. Should the EU and the UK come to an agreement that the transition period should be extended, the announced dates will need to be adapted accordingly.