How European Privacy Laws Affect You When Emailing Europe

Whether you’re an EU citizen or a long-term expat, change of address is an inevitable part of life in the region. It might not seem obvious, but the laws governing how your personal data is handled and used when you’re online can vary widely from country to country. So whether you’re trying to make yourself at home in a new location or are just curious about how privacy regulations would affect your day-to-day life, this article is for you.

What Are The Most Important Things To Remember?

When changing addresses in Europe, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Your current address on record
  • Your old address
  • The name on your personal identity document (ID card or passport)
  • Where you plan on registering your new address

Each country in the EU has its own data protection laws which regulate how your personal data is handled and used when you’re online. So even if the law allows for the most lax approach to data privacy, it’s still vital you comply with the terms and conditions put in place by the authorities.

For example, if you’re an EU citizen and are moving to a country which enforces a privacy law that’s more stringent than the European one, then it’s essential that you take into consideration that your personal information may not be handled in the same way online. Privacy International has produced a useful guide which breaks down the key differences between the data protection regimes in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. You can download the guide here.

How Do I Update My Record?

If you’re an EU citizen and are updating your address details in the region, the path forward is rather straightforward. In most cases, you’ll only need to confirm your name and current address, which is all data protection authorities require in order to keep your record current. In some instances, you might have to provide additional details such as a residential address or proof of age. When completing your change of address form, make sure you list your previous address as ‘present address’ and your new address as ‘permanent address’. Doing so should ensure your records are kept up-to-date and avoid any unnecessary stress at a later date.

Am I Required To Renew My Personal Identity Document?

Along with changing your address, you’ll also need to consider whether you need to renew your personal ID document. In some cases, you are not required to do so, as it will be valid for the entire duration. In other instances, you might be asked to renew your document after a certain number of years (for example, after five years). Most often, it’s a case of renewing it when your previous one expires. If you do not want to update your personal data for legal reasons, you can ask for an attestation to be added to your ID which states you have no fixed address.

Who Needs To Be Scared Of What?

Regardless of whether you’re an EU citizen or just visiting the region on a holiday, you should always be mindful of who you are emailing and how you are communicating online. While it would be very unlikely that your personal data would be hacked and used illegally, it’s still vital you take appropriate measures to protect your identity and sensitive information. Using a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic is a good way to do so.


Even though the European Data Protection Directive (EU Data Protection) was designed to create legal certainty and protect your data wherever you may be in the EU, there are still instances where the law can be rather ambiguous. If you’re uncertain as to how each of the above mentioned laws affect you and your personal data, then you should contact a personal data protection expert who can advise you.

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