81,000 UK-owned .eu domains suspended due to Brexit

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The UK has lost its right to host .eu addresses, leaving British domain owners adrift.

Tens of thousands of British website owners are starting 2021 with an unpleasant surprise. Eurid, the registry manager of European domain brands, has suspended the .eu domain names registered by UK citizens due to the regulatory changes brought on by Brexit.  

In addition, no UK-based registrant is now able to obtain a .eu domain. Eurid reports that it has already suspended 81, 000 domain names from 50,000 registrants.

What suspension means

The suspended domains can no longer support a website or other services like e-mail.

Domain names may be re-instated as soon as the registrants update their contact data, according to Eurid. UK owners will have a three month window in which to prove their right to run a .eu domain by updating their contact data. This means they must transfer the .eu domain to an EU-subsidiary outside the UK or declare citizenship or residence of in an EU member state.

According to Eurid, those who have still not demonstrated their eligibility as of March 31, 2021 will have their domain names taken. Eurid will then permanently revoke the names and make them available for general registration in January 2022. This assumes however that the former UK owners have still not complied with the new registration requirements.

Why this comes as a surprise

Eurid’s suspension of UK domains comes after a series of mixed signals from the European Commission. The EC is the body that decides on the rules that guide the registration of .eu domains. Eurid’s latest memo is the third of a series of Brexit notices to UK registrants, just since December. The direction comes after several updates to official guidance the agency has issued since 2018.

EU regulations currently stipulate that .eu websites can only be allocated to EU citizens – regardless of their place of residence. They can also be owned by non-EU citizens and organizations established in an EU member state.  

With Brexit, the UK-based .eu domains became non-EU domains hosted by non-EU citizens in a non-EU state, and thus invalid.

UK domain owners are playing it safe

It seems all the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the UK’s .eu domains has already had a practical effect. Between 2018 and 2019 the number of .eu websites in the UK decreased by 46.7%. 

This means that most UK owners have already abandoned their .eu name and set up a new domain to which they re-directed their traffic.