Brexit: A new challenge for domain name registrants

Global Relationship Manager

In June of 2016, the United Kingdom held an historic referendum and public vote that would change the course of the country’s future forever. With a simple 51.89% to 48.11% majority, the UK public voted to leave the European Union and thus Britain’s exit, now commonly referred to as “Brexit,” began.

Since that fateful decision, there have been some notable developments, including “Brexit remorse” (where exit supporters experience regret for their decision), and, in December, the European Court of Justice ruled that Britain had the power to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit in its entirety. At present, the UK is in the process of trying to agree and approve an exit “deal” for Britain.

A deal would secure various settlements, including border controls and citizen rights, and would outline the method in which the UK would leave the EU. In the event that no agreement is approved, the UK faces a “no deal” Brexit scenario with zero clarity as to what happens next.

What does this mean for European country code top-level domain names?

The registry for .eu, EURid, is governed by the European Commission (EC), which requires that .eu domain names be owned by registrants residing in the EU. The EC has declared that, in the event of a “no deal” Brexit decision, all UK registrants of .eu domain names shall have their domain names revoked on 30th March 2019.

The EC has indicated that there shall be no “phasing out” or staging of the suspensions or revocations, and they will all happen in one batch. In the event of a “deal” Brexit, however, domain revocations will be delayed until January 1, 2021. There is still time for the EC to decide to permit UK registrants based on the UK’s membership of the European Economic Area or European Economic Community. However, the EC has made no statement or suggestion that this shall be its course of preferred action.

EURid recently agreed to allow a two month “cooling period” for registrants. This means that in the event of a “no deal”, the finalised date is the 30th May 2019 before domains will be placed in a “withdrawn” status. The date shall now be 2nd March 2021 in the event of a deal being agreed.

To date, EURid is the only registry to discuss its plans for domain name deletion, with other registries (such as AFNIC, the domain registry for France, and the Hungarian domain registry) stating that they shall not delete domain names registered to UK registrants but will await the final outcome of the EURid actions before they determine their eligibility requirements.

Staying updated on Brexit changes

MarkMonitor will keep clients updated on any changes in requirements or eligibility relating to the changes in Brexit. There are six European domain registries that require that the registrant be physically located in, or owning a business or trademark, in Europe.

We have been working closely with EURid and other registries throughout Europe to ensure that we are kept apprised of the latest developments and changes.

Last month, the UK Parliament held a vote on the latest Brexit deal proposal and the bill was rejected. At this moment, there is no approved or agreed Brexit plan. There may be future in the forthcoming weeks. The outcome of any vote shall determine whether the deal is accepted and whether there shall be a “deal” or “no deal” Brexit scenario. In addition, there could be another referendum and public vote.

Join us for the webinar

We are working with our clients to identify domain names that may be impacted, and we are recommending relevant modifications where possible. MarkMonitor is available to discuss how UK registrants could potentially retain .eu and other local-presence required domain names in a post Brexit landscape.

To learn more about the impact of Brexit on domains, join our webinar (details forthcoming) on 26th March 2019 as Director of Internet Policy & Industry Affairs Brian King and Global Relationship Manager Prudence Malinki discuss the details.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the GRM Team if you have further queries.

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Alison Simpson
With more than 14 years’ experience in the domain industry, Alison has managed all aspects of Corporate Domain Managem... More