The European Registry for Internet Domains (EURid) launched the “.eu” top level domain in 2005. It offers the opportunity of a pan-European Internet name (for websites and e-mail addresses) for those who meet the eligibility criteria. At present, there are approximately 135,000 .eu domains registered to individuals, businesses and organisations in the United Kingdom.
The UK officially left the EU on 31 January 2020 at 11pm. It is now in a transition period until 11pm, 31 December 2020. During the transition period individuals, businesses and organisations in the UK can continue to register and renew .eu domains. However, after the end of the transition period, EURid has the authority to revoke .eu domains held by UK-based registrants who no longer fulfil the eligibility criteria. In its Brexit notice of 3 June 2020, EURid warns that it will make such domains inoperable from 1 January 2021. It also plans to revoke the domains of ineligible registrants from 1 January 2022. We therefore recommend our UK clients to review whether they have .eu domains and, if so, whether the registrant can satisfy the following criteria from 31 December 2020:
- a) A citizen of the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (the EEA), irrespective of their place of residence;
- b) A natural person who is resident in the EU or the EEA, but who is not a citizen of the EU or the EEA;
- c) An undertaking that is established in the EU or the EEA; or
- d) An organisation that is established in the EU or the EEA.
Where an individual can meet the above criteria, they should update the registration details of their .eu domain to show EURid how they satisfy the criteria.
For UK businesses and organisations with .eu domains, the position is less clear, since the term “established” is not defined in the criteria. This term is broad and open to interpretation. However, in our opinion, it implies something more than a mere forwarding address in the EU or the EEA.
If a business or organisation has subsidiaries in the EU or the EEA, we recommend that they consider transferring any .eu domains held in the name of a UK entity to a subsidiary which satisfies the above criteria. Otherwise, where this is not possible, we suggest assessing whether the .eu domain(s) can be left to expire, and any content be transferred to another domain. Unfortunately, proxy services are not permissible under EURid’s Domain Name Registration policy.