(Deutsche Version: Folgen des „Brexit“ fĂŒr Domainnamen)
On 23 June 2016, the majority of the British population voted to leave the European Union (EU) against all reason â the so-called Brexit. Very few Brexit supporters know the exact consequences leaving the EU will have for the United Kingdom, the EU and the whole world. The Brexit also affects domain names.
Revocation of EU Top Level Domain Names (.eu) registered by Britons
According to section 12 of the Registration Policy for .eu domain names, the Registry may revoke a domain name at its own discretion in case the registrant does not or no longer fulfill the general eligibility criteria provided under the .eu Regulation. The registration of .eu domain names is reserved for companies, organisations and natural persons residing within the community. After leaving the EU, legal and natural persons in the United Kingdom no longer fulfill this requirement. Their .eu domain names will be revoked.
At least 14 days before revoking the domain names, the Registry will notify by e-mail the registrant and/or the Registrar through whom the domain name has been registered, affording them the opportunity to remedy, where possible, the grounds for revocation. This does not seem plausible in a lot of cases as the only solution would be to move the registered office, central administration or principal place of business respectively to relocate to another country that’s still a member state of the European Union.
Retiring the United Kingdom’s Top Level Domain (.uk) after the union falls apart
While England (except London) and Wales have strongly voted to leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as the British Overseas Territories voted to remain in the EU. The United Kingdom is on the verge of falling apart. This would affect the UK’s Top Level Domain .uk’s future.
If the United Kingdom breaks apart, operation of the Top Level Domain .uk will be discontinued after a certain transition period. There would be an alternative at the ready: .gb (‚Great Britain‘). According to the ISO code relevant for the creation of Country Code Top Level Domains (the so-called ccTLDs), the United Kingdom’s Top Level Domain should be .gb. As .uk predates the ISO list of ccTLDs, it stayed in use. However, .gb is still reserved but remains unused. It is unsure whether .gb would be available or rather retired as well. This will strongly depend on whether and under which name the former UK countries will unite or exist on their own.
The British Overseas Territories would not be affected by the UK falling apart as they already possess their own Top Level Domains: Anguilla .ai, Bermuda .bm, British Antarctic Territory .aq (for the whole Antarctic area), British Indian Ocean Territory .io, British Virgin Islands .vg, Cayman Islands .ky, Gibraltar .gi, Falkland Islands .fk, Guernsey .gg, Isle of Man .im, Jersey, Montserrat .ms, Pitcairn .pn, St. Helena Ascension and Tristan de Cunha .sh, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands .gs, Turks and Caicos Islands .tc.
A new Top Level Domain for an independant Scotland?
There have been plans to separate Scotland from the United Kingdom for a long time. While a majority of the Scottish population had voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom in September 2014, they have made very clear that they want to remain a member of the European Union. A new independence referendum is very likely to take place in the near future, with Scotland becoming an independent country that intends to become a member of the EU (again).
As an independent country, Scotland will be entitled to its own Country Code Top Level Domain. However, all matching two-letter Top Level Domains starting with an ‚S‘ combined with any remaining letters of ‚Scotland‘ are already taken: .sc (Seychelles), .so (Somalia), .st (SĂŁo TomĂ© and PrĂncipe), .sl (Sierra Leone), .sa (Saudi Arabia), .sn (Senegal) and .sd (Sudan). A possible .ec for Ecosse (Latin for Scotia) is taken as well (Ecuador). The Gaelic ‚Alba‘ for Scotland may provide a solution. Although .al (Albania) is not available, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) could create a new ccTLD .ab or even .aa.
Luckily, the Scots hold their own new generic Top Level Domain since 2014. Scots all over the world as well as non-Scots residing in Scotland may register a .scot domain name. The .scot domain name helps to emphasise Scottish values and quality, similar to what the Swiss government intends to achieve with its .swiss Top Level Domain. More than 10,000 .scot domain names are registered already.