At the time of writing we still don’t know whether Brexit will happen on schedule, or whether it will happen with or without a deal; it would be impossible (and unrealistic) to be ready for every eventuality, but preparations for a potential no-deal Brexit should have started months ago.
Whilst most businesses will have looked at EU supply chains, customs declarations or the employment rights of EU citizens, the eligibility of a business’ website domain could have slipped under the radar. However, if you have an .eu domain name, in the event of a no-deal Brexit you will need to switch to a new domain.
Websites with .eu domains post 31 October 2019
In case of a no-deal Brexit, businesses will no longer be able to register or renew an .eu domain name unless the business is established in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA). That means businesses incorporated in the UK will no longer be eligible for an .eu domain name. Similarly, individuals can no longer register or renew an .eu domain name if they live in the UK and are not an EU or EEA citizen.
UK businesses with a current .eu domain name will receive an email notification on 1 November 2019 from EURid, the domain name registry, to inform them that they are no longer eligible to retain their domain name. There will be a short period of grace until 1 January 2020 when websites can remain active, but on 1 January 2020, all .eu domain names used by UK businesses will be withdrawn.
If you run a UK business with an .eu domain name, you should check the expiry date for your domain name and liaise with your domain name registrar over moving to another domain such as .com, .co.uk, .org or .net.
You should let your customers know that your webpage is moving. It is also advisable that you put up a holding page that shows your website is moving and set up the page to automatically redirect web traffic to the new domain.
Things to consider:
- Email addresses: make sure you switch your .eu email addresses to other email addresses for use of critical services such as online banking, payment verification, tax payments.
- Logins to other websites: remember to switch any .eu email addresses used to login to other organisations’ websites, such as social media accounts or membership clubs.
- Communications: .eu email addresses used to communicate with clients or staff need to be switched.
- Data migration: your .eu email accounts might hold data that needs to be moved to your new email accounts.
- Intellectual Property: check whether the use of a new domain name will impact your trade marks or other IP rights (for example if the webpage or email address is referenced in your TM, branding or in any designs).
You may want to check the terms and conditions of your agreement with your registrar as to what the potential recourse and consequences are for withdrawing or revoking an .eu registration.
If you need further advice on any of the above or require general advice on your intellectual property rights, please do get in touch with Beatrice Bass.