How to register a .EU domain from anywhere (or keep it after Brexit)

Up to 340,000 EU domains could be affected by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

April 2018 update: The European Commission has written a notice to stakeholders formally confirming that British residents and companies will not be eligible to use the .EU domain under current rules after the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. This means they can not apply for a .EU domain or renew a .EU domain, and also that their .EU domains can be revoked.

  • Why choose .eu for your business
  • What happens after Brexit?
  • Using e-Residency to acquire a .eu domain
  • How to apply

The European Union offers .eu as a top level domain for people and organisations across the world’s largest single market.

Companies proudly use it when conducting business (both across Europe and the world) because it indicates their pan-European presence and their adherence to the EU’s legal frameworks, which can provide greater trust to customers and partners.

As the European Commission explains:

A growing number of Europe-focused companies boost their online presence with a .eu domain name. A .eu website tells customers that the brand concerns a legal entity in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway and, as such, is subject to the trading and consumer laws of these countries. Having a .eu extension also makes it easier for businesses to grow across borders, to address the needs of customers in other countries, which is the very essence of having a single market.

In addition, the .eu domain itself has a high standard of cyber security thanks to strict regulations and safeguards against malicious use of it. This includes background checks on applicants and assistance with law enforcement, as well as swift action on copyright infringements and the prevention of phishing and cyber attacks. There’s even an extension to assure visitors that they are on a safe website.

As a result of these benefits, the EU says that the .eu domain has contributed to the development of the EU’s digital economy and achieving a European Digital Single Market.

There’s a slight problem ahead though…

What happens after Brexit?

British companies are one of the top users of the .eu domain and would no longer have the right to use the domain under current rules if the UK leaves the European Single Market. As a report recently submitted to the UK Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee notes:

By default, when the UK leaves the European Union, and any transition period ends, UK persons and organisations that have registered .eu domain names will no longer be legally eligible for these registrations. 340,000 UK users potentially stand to be affected by this development.

Although this issue has not yet made headlines, an industry source is quoted in the report explaining that significant numbers of businesses and individuals will be impacted if a solution is not found.

However, we spotted one Twitter user who may have already found one:

Graham is correct.

Using e-Residency to acquire a .EU domain

E-Residency is our secure digital identity from the Republic of Estonia, which provides access to the country’s advanced digital infrastructure and e-services.

This won’t give you the personal right to register a .eu domain because that is restricted to (physical) residents of the EU. However, e-Residency enables you to start and manage an EU company online from anywhere in the world, even if you are not an EU citizen. Your company will then have the right to register a .eu domain or receive a .eu domain that a British citizen transfers to it.

We’re not expecting a rush of e-Residency applications just to acquire a .EU domain. However, we hope the need for a .EU domain will help more people think bigger about what they want to achieve with the EU company behind it. E-Residency is democratising access to entrepreneurship by helping more people conduct business both within the EU and around the world at lower cost and hassle.

Using a .EU domain through e-Residency is not just a ‘hack’ or a clever workaround. The .eu domain is intended for use by EU companies, no matter where in the world they are operating. It may have been launched long before e-Residency, but the people behind it had the foresight to understand how the digital era was enabling the rise of global business by anyone. If entrepreneurs physically outside the EU want to conduct business within and through the EU (with the help of the internet) and comply with the EU’s standards and frameworks then they are entitled to indicate that.

As the EU Commission itself explained at the launch of the top level domain, .eu is for:

Anybody who lives in the European Union plus companies, organisations, businesses that are established in the EU (e.g. have a branch office in a Member State). Nationality of an EU Member State is not a prerequisite.

How to apply

The first step is to join our digital nation by becoming an e-resident, if you haven’t already. You can apply entirely online at e-resident.gov.ee.

After collecting your digital identity card, you can then establish your complete EU company with EU business banking entirely online too. It’s important to note that this is not a ‘virtual company’ and it doesn’t just have to be an internet business. You are creating an EU legal entity that is trusted and as legitimate as any other company created across the EU.

We’ve created a complete guide for you here:

After that, your company has the right to register a domain name using .eu.

The EU Commission has appointed EURid as the registry manager for .eu domains. You can visit their website below to check if your preferred name is available and then choose a registrar to help you register it.

A list of English speaking registrars for Estonia, selected by EURid, is available here.

Good luck! Let us know on social media or in the comments below how you get on and what you plan to do with your EU company. Don’t forget to use the hashtag, #eResidency, like Graham did.

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