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Brexit Could Impact EU Domain Registrants

Michele Neylon

The current policies for .eu domain name registration restrict registration to organisations, businesses and individuals that meet certain criteria.

In order to get a .eu domain name you need to be resident within the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. This is laid out in the current policy as follows:

(i) an undertaking having its registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, or
(ii) an organisation established within the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein without prejudice to the application of national law, or
(iii) a natural person resident within the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

Post-Brexit it is unclear whether UK registrants will still qualify to hold their .eu domains.

EURid released a "holding statement" earlier which doesn't really clarify anything, though that's not EURid's fault. As they say in their statement, they aren't the ones who decide on the registration policies. That responsibility lies with the European Commission:

On 23 June 2016, the UK expressed its intention to leave the European Union. Please note that no immediate action will be taken against .eu or .ею domain names that have been registered by residents of the UK. EURid has been appointed by the European Commission to manage the technical infrastructure of .eu and its variants in other scripts, therefore, following the UK exit, the European Commission itself will have to ultimately decide and officially inform us on how to proceed. We will continue to keep all of our stakeholders fully informed.

It's unclear how long it will take the UK to exit the EU, though most media reports seem to suggest that will take about two years to finalise. While it is doubtful that the .eu registration criteria are going to be a high priority in any negotiations between the UK government and the EU, there will be an impact.

According to EURid's Q1 2016 report the UK accounts for over 300 thousand .eu domain name registrations and is the 4th biggest market for .eu domain names:

Top ten countries with the most .eu registrations. Source: EURid

For companies with multiple offices across Europe updating their domain registration records might cause a minor headache, but it's unlikely that any change would happen overnight. But for those entities and individuals who do not have access to another address in the EU, this could prove to be problematic depending on what the European Commission decides.

I guess we'll all have to wait to find out!

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions
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Brexit discussion on July 27th Thomas Rickert  –  Jul 05, 2016 2:05 PM PDT

Several registries with eligibility requirements face the challenge that they need to determine how to deal with the situation. Shall they close the registrations for registrants from the UK? Shall they loosen up their positions on proxy registrations? Shall they suspend the registrations as it may well be that agreements are found as with Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. It would be hard for registrants to loose their registrations if they could be an eligible registrant some time later.
eco Association of the Internet Industry is kicking off the discussion with a telco on July 27th, see https://international.eco.de/2016/events/brexit-challenges-for-the-domain-industry.html. Please join if you are interested in the topic.

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