EURid, the registry manager for .eu top-level domains, has suspended more than 80,000 domains held by British nationals or British organisations.
The change came on the first day of the new year, as part of EU rules stating that an .eu domain can only be held by a citizen or organisation located within the European Union.
In 2018, the EU had initially decided that any .eu domain registered by a British national or with a British address would simply be cancelled. The decision angered many British nationals and firms doing business in the EU, as well as EU citizens living in the UK, who threatened to challenge the decision in court.
The EU then amended the rules many times, with the final iteration coming in October 2020. This stated that only the following persons, organisations and undertakings would be eligible to register .eu domain names:
- An EU citizen, independent of their place of residence;
- A naturalised person who is not an EU citizen and who is a resident of a Member State;
- An undertaking that is established in the EU; or
- An organisation that is established in the EU, without prejudice to the application of national law.
The EU also ruled that any British .eu domain holder who shifted their domain’s registration address from a UK address to somewhere in the EU would be eligible to retain the domain. Brits who failed to do that would have their domains suspended from 1st January 2021 to 31st March 2021 – as has now happened.
On 1st October 2020, EURid sent out its first Brexit notification to.eu domain registrants residing in the UK, informing them that they would cease to be eligible to own a .eu domain as of 1st January 2021 unless they updateed their registration data prior to Exit Day.
A second notice was sent on 21st December 2020, to all registrants who had not already updated their details.
Finally, on 2nd January 2021, the registry manager delivered its third Brexit notice to UK registrants, telling them that their .eu domain was no longer compliant with the .eu regulatory framework and has been moved to “SUSPENDED” status until 31st March 2021.
According to EURid, a suspended domain can no longer support any service (such as website and email), but its registrar can still reinstate it after updating the registration data.
On 1st April 2021, all .eu domains that are not compliant with the .eu regulatory framework will be moved to ‘WITHDRAWN’. All such domains will be revoked on the 1st January 2022, according to EURid, and will become available for general registration.