February 17, 2021
Brian Winterfeldt and Griffin Barnett

Brexit Leaves Thousands of .EU Domain Name Registrants in the Lurch

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On February 1, 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union. Pursuant to the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU, the EU afforded a transition period until December 31, 2020 during which it would continue to recognize all EU undertakings that included or covered the UK and UK citizens and legal entities. The .EU top-level domain (TLD) is the official “country-code” TLD for the European Union, established by EU regulation in 2005. Included as part of the post-Brexit transition period was the continued ability for all organizations established in the UK and UK residents and citizens to hold and register a .EU domain name. Otherwise, only EU citizens, residents, and organizations established within the EU are permitted to be registrants of .EU domain names.  

As of January 1, 2021, the transition period had concluded, and all UK undertakings or organizations established in the UK but not in the EU, UK citizens who are not residents of an EU Member State, and UK residents who are not EU citizens (collectively, “UK Registrants”) are no longer be eligible to hold a .EU domain name.  Accordingly, as of January 1, 2021, EURid, the .EU registry operator, no longer allows the registration of any new .EU domain name by UK Registrants.  EURid also no longer allows the transfer of any .EU domain name to a UK Registrant.  

As of January 1, 2021, EURid placed all .EU domain names registered to UK Registrants in a “Suspended” status, such that the domain names are not technically able to be used in connection with any web services, such as a website or email service.  The domain names may be restored if the registrants can update the registration data so as to meet the current eligibility requirements by June 30, 2021.

On July 1, 2021, EURid will move all of the still non-compliant domain names into the “Withdrawn” status, thereby removing the domain name from the .EU zone file and preventing any use of the domain name.  Finally, on January 1, 2022, all the domain names in the “Withdrawn” status, formerly assigned to UK Registrants, will be revoked and subsequently become available for general registration. According to EURid, their release will occur in batches for security reasons.  

Importantly, European Union citizens who are residing in the United Kingdom will remain eligible to hold a .EU domain name after the end of the transition period provided they update their registration data with their EU citizenship.

According to EURid, approximately 81,000 .EU domain names have entered the Suspended status following the transition period for no longer meeting the .EU registration eligibility criteria by UK Registrants.  Anyone effected by this transition should consider alternative ways of meeting the eligibility criteria in order to recover the use of their .EU domain name.  If this is not possible, it may be necessary to identify alternative domain names in other TLDs, such as in the .UK ccTLD for the United Kingdom, one of the EU Member-State specific ccTLDs, if eligible (e.g. .FR for France, .ES for Spain, .DE for Germany, or .IT for Italy, etc.), or any number of the approximately 700 or so open generic TLDs (gTLDs) such as .ONLINE, .SITE, .COM, .ORG, .APP or geographic gTLD such as .AMSTERDAM, .BERLIN, .MADRID, or .PARIS.

If you have any questions regarding this alert or wish to discuss these matters in more detail, please contact any of the following Winterfeldt IP Group team members:

Brian Winterfeldt, brian@winterfeldt.law, +1 202 903 4422

Griffin Barnett, griffin@winterfeldt.law, +1 202 759 5836

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