Published 30th of August 2018
Author Paul Philpott
Thank .eu Very Much
Building an internet business isn’t easy. Building any business isn’t easy.
Not only do you need an awesome idea, but you need to go about marketing your idea, creating a brand, a logo, designing and building your website, establishing links and search engine rankings, tying-in with social media activities and building a reputation of customer loyalty and trust.
There’s a lot of hard work involved.
Imagine having all this hard work deleted…
Well, in effect, this is exactly what will be happening as hundreds of thousands of domain names are scheduled for “deletion” at the end of March 2019, if Britain exits the EU with no deal. A situation that will be devastating to thousands of businesses and individuals, which has gone largely unreported in mainstream media.
In 2006, a new top-level domain was announced called .eu
Accessible to individuals and businesses of all sizes around Europe, it enabled folks to set up websites that showed an intention to supply and communicate with Europe. There was a big rush for people to secure .eu equivalents to their existing .com and .co.uk addresses. It also enabled firms that specialised in supplying products Euro-wide to establish an EU specific brand or idea, along with the usual diverse range of clubs, societies, charities, blogs, and personal sites – all ending in .eu
This is about to change…Dramatically.
EURid is the internet domain name registry for all domain names that end in .eu. Whilst you may buy the domain name through a UK company (123-reg or Go Daddy, for example), it is EURid who controls things behind the scenes.
In mid-August, one of the UK’s largest domain name companies, 123-reg, issued the following alert to its customer base:
“We are writing to inform you that EURid (European Registry for Internet Domains) has decided that anyone without an EU postal address will no longer be able to own a .eu domain name once the UK leaves the EU.
EURid will therefore be terminating all .eu domain names registered to UK addresses on one of two dates:
· 30 March 2019 if the UK exits the EU with no deal
· 1 January 2021 if the UK exits the EU with a deal
How to keep your .eu domain name
If you have an EU postal address, you can use it as your domain's admin contact. To continue using your domain as normal, please update your domain registration details.
What if I don't have an EU postal address?
Unfortunately, this means that you will lose your EU domain, but we will keep you updated on next steps and provide you with plenty of guidance so that we can help to minimise the inconvenience caused.”
Goodbye website. Goodbye hard work.
Out of Commission
I guess it’s fair to say that, no matter which way you placed your Brexit vote, you probably didn’t see that coming. We can add this to the growing list of realities that are now coming to light.
The irony is that several websites that were set up to promote ‘vote leave’ will be suffering the same fate – www.leave.eu being a good example.
The tragedy is that potentially thousands of small businesses will be irreparably affected by this. Tech publication, The Register, reports the number of actual domain names affected to be in the region of 300,000*.
How Could This Affect .eu?
Let’s say your small business is (random theoretical example) supplying tartan to EU individuals who have a Scottish heritage. That’s all you do; great idea. So, you set up a website with a .eu domain name to promote it. Spent months, even years, on search engine establishment, brand recognition and building a customer base. This will no longer be feasible once the UK leaves the EU.
One could set up a new website, perhaps. But the impact of this would be lost search engine rankings (which don’t simply transfer to a new website), branding implications such as your logo, new letterheads and cards, new literature, slogan, and potentially a new name for the business.
You don’t need to be a genius to figure out how much money (and time) this would cost.
It’s hinted that the only way for an organisation to retain their .eu existence is to set up a legal entity or physical address in Europe and transfer ownership to this new location. Nice. You’ve got a matter of a few months to sort this out. Fine if you’re a big enough business with time and funds to finance such an effort (note that PO boxes aren’t normally accepted for domain name registry, so a physical point of presence needs to be sourced).
Another potential side effect is that, once current domain owners are evicted, there is a real risk of competing companies moving in, buying the domain, and effectively hijacking the original owner’s traffic…and business. Nasty thought.
For many of those affected, the door will be closing on their freedom to run an internet business, not just their freedom to move around the EU.
One wonders what little, but potentially impactful detail, will be announced next?