.uk domains due in 2014

Posted: December 4, 2013

Oxford-based Nominet, the body responsible for domain name registration, has approved plans to introduce .uk domains. They’re expected to be available in summer 2014 and represent the biggest modification in UK-specific ‘namespace’ since it began. Other .uk domain names – such as .co.uk and .org.uk will continue to be available, but it’s thought demand for the new, shorter, simpler URLs will be high, partly due to the 140 character-count limit on Twitter. Shorter names and URLs leave more space for comment when replying to tweets, or when sending an ‘@’ message.

.uk domain names that do not have an equivalent name already registered as a .co.uk or .org.uk, etc., will be available on a first-come, first served basis from launch. However, to reduce the risk of cyber-squatting, all ten million-plus existing .uk (e.g. Example.me.uk or Whatever.net.uk) customers will be offered the shorter equivalent of their current address, with five years to decide whether they wish to use it in addition to, or instead of, the domain/s they already hold. In the small proportion of instances where there could be competition, where one person holds This.co.uk and another holds This.org.uk, the shorter domain will be offered to the .co.uk registrant first – a further pecking-order will be published in future.

The five-year holding period is intended to help businesses avoid additional expenses, such as having to change stationary, signage, or renewing longer .uk domain names when they intend to switch to the new short version in future.

The wholesale price for the new domains will be £3.50 per year for single year registrations and £2.50 per year for multi-year registrations. This is the same price as a current co.uk domain, ensuring the cost of a domain name will remain a very small proportion (around 1.5% for a small business) of the cost of being online.

As with Germany’s .de or France’s .fr, the move brings the UK in line with other large country-code registries. A recent Nominet survey of UK business decision makers reported that 72% felt .uk registrations should be made available and only 2% thought they shouldn’t.

Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley commented: “The .uk namespace is one of the most popular and trusted available and we’re committed to ensuring it stays up-to-date and relevant. We’re excited to offer the option of a shorter, snappier domain name that we believe will appeal to both our existing customers and the businesses and bloggers of tomorrow.”