News article

Brexit: Geo-blocking of online content after UK's exit

13 August 2019

Restricting access to online content between the UK and EU if there’s a no-deal Brexit

GOV.UK has published new guidance to provide information on the government's plans in relation to the European Union (EU) Geo-Blocking Regulation if there's a no-deal Brexit.

The regulation prevents traders from imposing unjustified restrictions on online customers because of their nationality, residence or place of establishment. Examples of such restrictions include:

  • blocking access to websites or apps across borders
  • redirecting users to different (country-specific) websites or apps without their consent
  • preventing the purchase of goods, services and online content when accessing a website from abroad
  • differential treatment (eg in prices and conditions) depending on nationality or location
  • denying delivery or shipment across border

The regulation came into force in the UK in December 2018. Read more about the Geo-Blocking Regulation.

Actions for businesses
Businesses do not need to take any action to prepare for changes to geo-blocking rules if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Providing goods or services to the UK and EU
Traders from the UK, EU and other non-EU countries will no longer be obliged to comply with the EU regulation for customers based in the UK.

They will not be prohibited from discriminating between EU customers and UK customers. This means a trader can:

  • redirect UK and EU customers to different versions of a website
  • offer different terms of access to EU customers compared to UK customers
  • be less restricted in choosing which payment methods they accept

Traders who are already complying with the Geo-Blocking Regulation prior to Brexit will not need to take any additional steps to continue to comply after Brexit - they will be free to continue treating UK and EU customers as they did when the regulation applied if they wish.

Providing goods or services to different EU countries
UK traders who wish to continue selling goods and services into the EU will continue to be bound by the provisions of the EU Geo-Blocking Regulation when dealing with customers in different EU countries.

This means that a UK trader will not be able to discriminate between customers in different EU countries, for instance between a French and a German customer.

For more information, see GOV.UK's notice on geo-blocking of online content between the UK and EU if there is a no-deal Brexit.