Britons no longer eligible to register .fr domains


    - David Goldstein -

    Brexit has had many impacts on business between the United Kingdom and the European Union. One that not many realised would happen was Britons would no longer be allowed to register domain names in France’s ccTLD .fr, nor for any of the five ccTLDs for the French territories that Afnic manages.

    Company headquarters in EU member state required

    The ruling comes about as since December 2011, the only businesses or individuals eligible to register .fr domain names are those that are located or live within the European Union or the wider European Economic Area (additionally Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). The eligibility rules also apply to .re (La Réunion), .yt (Mayotte), .pm (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon), .wf (Wallis and Futuna) and .tf (French Southern and Antarctic Lands).

    To quote the eligibility rules laid down in the Naming Charter, which are taken directly from the provisions of the French Post and Electronic Communications Code:

    “The registration or renewal of a domain name can be requested by any natural person residing and any legal person having its registered office or main establishment:

    • in one of the European Union member states;
    • or in one of the following countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.”

    What this means for UK registrants

    While new registrations are impacted, domain names registered before 1 January 2021 when the UK left the customs union and the common market, are grandfathered. This includes 34,000 .fr domain names and domains registered in the five ccTLDs managed by Afnic. These registrants will be able to renew their domain names as many times as they wish. For transfers, the new registrant will be required to abide by the same eligibility rules as new registrants.

    In the case of the registrant no longer having the legal capacity to carry out a voluntary transfer there are rules around this too. In these cases, for example where a company no longer legally exists (such as when a company is wound up or a corporate transaction sees a company merger or split), or less often, when the registrant dies in the case of an individual, updating the registrant’s contact details in the Whois database becomes impossible.

    In these cases, Afnic proposes a forced transfer procedure known as a “Recover”. This procedure allows the transfer of a domain name to be forced when the “exiting” holder no longer has the legal capacity to give consent to the operation. In this particular case, Afnic makes sure that a legal or commercial link is demonstrated between the exiting holder and the new holder.

    Is your company based in the UK? Contact our team to find out how you can handle your Afilias registrations.