Brexit is a major issue for most companies in the UK right now, but there is one aspect which you may have overlooked: your .EU domain name. The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced that if the UK leaves the European Union on 29th March 2019 without a deal, any UK business or citizen which owns an .EU domain will no longer be entitled to register it.
The EURid which administers the .EU registry has stipulated that while .EU domains currently registered will remain valid until their expiry date, UK citizens or companies will not be able to renew them once they expire if the UK leaves without a deal. This is bad news for the 273,060 UK based companies which own a .EU domain.
This causes a wide range of problems for companies who have registered .EU domains, not least of which is finding a new domain. The DCMS has warned that all companies which operate a .EU domain should transfer to another top-level domain such as .com, .co.uk, .uk, .net, or .org as soon as possible to prevent disruption to their business.
The situation is complicated somewhat by the current state of play between the two parties. It may be that a deal is negotiated between the EU and UK which allows .EU domain rights for UK owners to be grandfathered. But with negotiations looking like they will run to the wire, companies should hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
What should you do next?
1. Migrate your .EU domain to another top-level domain
If you haven’t already done so you should migrate your website to another top-level domain such as .com, .co.uk, .uk, .net or .org.
2. Make your customers aware of your new domain name
Once you have your new domain set up don’t forget to make your customers aware of it. You will also need to update your email address along with office stationery and marketing collateral such as brochures, business cards and vehicle liveries.
3. Update any services which use email as an ID
A new domain means you will also need to update any third party services you use which use email as an ID. This will include your catalyst2 account along with any other cloud applications you use such as Office365 and Dropbox. It’s a good idea to check all software applications to ensure you can still gain access once you have a new email address.
4. Update SSL certificates
Any security certificates you have will be associated with your domain, so you will need to purchase a new SSL certificate when you buy a new TLD domain.
5. Manage your search engine rankings
This is perhaps the most important aspect of transferring your domain. Unless Google announces special measures, which seems unlikely, a new domain will almost certainly mean a drop in search engine rankings. You can mitigate this by carefully planning the migration. If you are unsure what to do, this Search Engine Journal article will help.
As you can see, transferring your domain is not as easy as it sounds. A lot of things need to be carefully considered if the process is to go smoothly. However, try not to worry too much – in a worst-case scenario you will only lose the rights to your domain once it expires. So you will still be able to access your website after March 29th, even if the UK crashes out with no deal.
After March 30th, domain registrars will be entitled to cancel your domain without notice once it has expired, but that doesn’t mean that they will. In most cases, they will give you time to migrate to another domain and provide support for your email. However, if you wish to register an .EU domain after March 29th, you will need to provide a legitimate EU registered address from which you operate. You can find more information about this judgement here.