The Brexit referendum of 2016, won by the leave campaign, still continues to present unintended consequences. Not even companies making their sales online will go unaffected. If you own the wrong type of domain, you might lose it when the divorce takes place.
If you are a UK company and have a .eu domain, you have to either move your website or your physical address to somewhere in the EU if you want to keep it. As of March 31, 2019, all .eu domains owned by UK individuals and companies will not be up for renewal. You either need to find an address in the EU or start redirecting all your incoming links to your new domain. This will affect as many as 300,000 domain owners in the UK. Already, domain companies like GoDaddy have stopped selling .eu domains to new UK customers. The full statement from EUrid can be read here (and a summary here).
Expensive Unintended Consequences
The most expensive .eu domain sold was hotels.eu ($329,000) in 2006. Imagine building a business around that kind of investment and then losing it overnight – just because your fellow countrymen are uncomfortable with the neighbours’ kids speaking a different language.
People are pissed
A lot of people are pissed at this development. EUrid, the organisation responsible for the top level domain, are angry that they were not informed about this decision. It was taken by politicians without asking them first; maybe as a way to put pressure on the UK government to get their act together and make a deal. It’s understandable why EUrid are upset. They are financed by the domain registration fees. Loosing 20% of their budget would make any bureaucrat angry. The Electronic Frontier Foundation are pissed because this goes against practice. They are afraid that a big chunk of the internet will disappear and be lost forever. Citing that if Russia can keep 100 000 Soviet domains alive, 28 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, then surely high tech Europe can save some .EU domains. Some people are pissed that this violates fundamental human rights to property. If EU can’t guarantee rights to property, then who can?
If you are in the UK and have a .eu domain.
Your options are:
- Sell it to a subsidiary of yours with an EU address
- Sell it to an EU competitor (putting the ‘Exit’ in Brexit)
- Get an Estonian e-Residency and set up an Estonian company (with an EU address)
- Get a different domain and start redirecting all your links
- Lay down, curl up, and cry
If you are a company outside the UK and you have a .co.uk-domain.
Don’t worry, you will be able to keep it. No change there. It seems like the UK is leaving the EU – not the other way around.
Your options are:
- Continue as if nothing happened
One man’s loss is another man’s gain
Anyone familiar with the huge market of drop catch domains will immediately see business opportunities. Active .eu domains with active backlinks will suddenly be available in large numbers. 300,000 domains will hit the market pretty soon.
Get ready for a huge land grab.
On the other hand – the .uk domain is now possible to register without using the subdomain .co.uk. At least the UK businesses have that going for them.