Brexit is coming, or maybe not. But if it does it will see the more than 200,000 .eu registrants in the United Kingdom lose their domain names, a number which is plummeting quickly due to the uncertainty. It’s a situation that’s playing havoc with business in the UK that use a .eu domain name, and for EURid, the .eu registry, who are set to end up losing close to 9% of their domain name base as a result.
At the end of December 2017 there were 317,286 .eu domain names registered to UK registrants but 12 months later this number had collapsed [pdf] by a quarter (24.1%) to 240,887 out of 3,684,750 as of 31 December 2018. And the number is only set to collapse even further with the ongoing uncertainty.
But assuming the UK leaves the European Union the number is set to become zero as eligibility set down by the European Commission means British businesses and individuals will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names, nor renew existing .eu domain names.
The issue saw the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport issue a guidance in December 2018 that suggested for those that aren’t eligible after the UK leaves the European Union they consider other top level domains (TLDs). It suggests that for those who lose their .eu domain names to seek advice from their “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.”
The changes are also set to impact non-UK EU citizens who reside in the UK. EURid in their latest “Brexit notice” advise:
There may be situations of EU citizens, who at present are residing in the UK and have registered a .eu domain name. These citizens would become ineligible as a result of the UK withdrawal and would, therefore lose their eligibility for a .eu domain name, but might become eligible again when the new .eu regulatory framework comes into force later this year. At present, such individuals will experience a disruption of service from 30 May 2019, as a result of the withdrawal of the name.
There are 2 scenarios outlined regarding how .eu domain names will be treated post-Brexit. The first is if the UK leaves the European Union as planned on 29 March, EURid, the .eu registry, will notify all UK registrants by email on 23 March that they’ll no longer be eligible to register or renew their .eu domain names.
On 30 March EURid will email again advising registrants they’re no longer eligible to a .eu domain name and give registrants the possibility to demonstrate their compliance by updating their contact details (e.g. indicating a legally established entity in one of the eligible EU27 or EEA Member States or an update of residence) before 30 May 2019. During this two-month period, the domain names in question will remain active and changes will be possible to contact details, name server and DNSSEC changes as well as transfer to an eligible registrant. No renewals are possible during this period unless eligibility is demonstrated. Any registrant that can’t show they’re eligible to a .eu domain name by 30 May 2019 will have their domain “withdrawn”. Twelve months after withdrawal, all domain names deemed ineligible will be revoked and become available for general registration.
The second scenario is if the UK leaves the EU on 31 December 2020 or even at a later date. In this scenario, from 1 January 2021 EURid will not allow the registration of any new domain name where the registrant is located in the UK.
Under this scenario, on 23 December 2020, EURid will notify registrants and their registrars about the forthcoming non-compliance by 23 December 2020.
Then on 1 January 2021, EURid will again email UK registrants and their registrars that their domain name(s) is not in compliance with the .eu regulatory framework. As in the first scenario, registrants will be given the possibility to demonstrate their compliance with the .eu regulatory framework, in this scenario before 2 March 2021. During this two-month period, the domain names in question will remain active. The same limited changes will be allowed to registrant data as in the first scenario including transfer to an eligible registrant.
Any registrant unable to demonstrate eligibility by 2 March 2021 would see their domain name withdrawn and 12 months after the UK withdrawal from the EU all the affected domain names will be revoked and become available for general registration.