Although a Brexit trade agreement was finally agreed between the EU and the UK Government (just in time), there looks as though there will still be plenty of opportunities for disagreements in the future – for now, with regard to domain registrars (opens in new tab) and website registration.
From the start of 2021, many UK citizens with .eu web addresses would have noticed that their websites and email addresses no longer worked. Although they may have initially suspected a bug to be responsible, the outages were actually part of a rule change imposed by the European Commission.
Back in 2018, the Commission initially decided that all .eu domains registered by a UK citizen, based in the UK, would simply be canceled. However, after some significant pushback, the rules were amended so that those domains would only be suspended instead. British holders of a .eu domain were granted three months to shift the physical address connected to their domain to somewhere in the EU in order to retain access to the domain.
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The countdown begins
Affected .eu domain holders now have until March 31, 2021, to change their registered physical address before their domain will be canceled and put up for sale again. This currently applies to 81,470 domains but it remains unclear how many of those belong to UK citizens that are quite happy for the three-month deadline to pass, having already moved to a new domain.
It was something of a surprise when the European Commission announced that it would be revoking the domains of UK citizens, given that it is common industry practice to allow ownership to continue providing membership fees are paid.
Although having their .eu domain names revoked may inconvenience a sizable number of UK businesses, they could hardly claim surprise when the switch-off occurred on January 1. The legal wrangling that has taken place within the European Commission over the past two years gave .eu domain holders plenty of time to put contingency plans in place.
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Via The Register (opens in new tab)