EU Domain Names: what happens after Brexit?

Should UK-based EU domain name holders consider changing their domain name in light of Brexit

Although a post-Brexit deal is uncertain at the moment, the stance taken by the EU, is that .eu once the UK leave the European Union, domain names will not be renewed, if held by a UK based company/individual. It is not clear as to whether .eu domains owned in the UK will be removed altogether, but this remains a possibility. Consequently, companies/individuals who find themselves in this predicament, will need to consider how to best cope, without harming their business or online presence.

Typical examples of domain names include .com .co.uk and .org. Approximately 300,000 UK based companies/individuals have .eu domain names. In light of the UK leaving the EU, the EU Commission released the following statement in 2018; “As of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organisations that are established in the United Kingdom are not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names, or, if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date.”

The seemingly safest option for UK based .eu domain holders, would be to purchase an alternative such as .com or .co.uk, as a replacement, and to do so as quickly as possible. This will aid maintenance of online presence, and if done swiftly, may be preventative in deterring cyber squatters. Cybersquatting is a term used when someone registers a domain name, relevant to another company/individual, which they aren’t going to use. The motive behind this being, to profit from selling on the domain name. When considering changing domain name, companies/individuals should be aware that the name may have already been registered by someone else. Whilst it may not always be the case, domain name disputes are becoming exceedingly commonplace.

As a business, changing a website address may substantially affect traffic on a website page, with visitors not knowing that the address has changed. Individuals/companies affected should be proactive in ensuring that people who visit their online page, are fully aware of the change. They will need to put in place appropriate marketing strategies to deal with any repercussions.

An alternative option, particularly for companies, is transferring their existing .eu domain name to a subsidiary based in the EU. This will enable a business to continue using the same website address, and will relieve any upset which may have been caused by changing domain name.

It remains unseen as to whether there will be any recourse for those registered with .eu domain names, having to change due to Brexit. If you are going to be affected by this, check with your local registrar as to the terms of your contract. As aforementioned, the terms of a Brexit deal (if there is a deal) are not agreed, and although a minor issue in the grand scheme of Brexit, it is right that .eu domain owners are aware of the EU Commission’s current position. 

CONTACT ALASDAIR

If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or any commercial matter, please do not hesitate to contact Alasdair Bleakley on 01727 798094.
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