From 10 June 2014, shorter, simpler .uk domain names will be available for the first time.
There’s no need to worry though, all existing domains including .co.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk will continue to run as normal. There will just be another option to choose from.
This pre-registration phase is for existing customers who already have a .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .ltd.uk or .plc.uk registered before 23:59 UTC October 28, 2013. .Co.uk takes precedence if there is more than one request.
Existing owners have until 07:59 UTC June 10, 2019 to activate their equivalent .UK domain through this phase. The first pre-registrations will be submitted to the registry on June 10 at 08:00 UTC.
Right to Reserve: New registrations of a .co.uk made before 08:00 UTC June 10, 2014 will get the rights to a new .UK domain provided there is no equivalent under org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, ltd.uk or .plc.uk. After launch new registrations within the .co.uk, .org.uk,. etc. no longer get automatic rights to register the new .UK.
Anyone wanting a new .uk domain, where there are no existing domains of the same name with rights (.co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, ltd.uk or .plc.uk), will simply be able to register the new .uk domain.
Here is a FAQ published by Nominet, the .co.uk and .uk registry:
Nominet is introducing second level domain names in the .uk namespace. This means that for the first time, shorter, simpler ‘example.uk’ domain names will be available alongside ‘example.co.uk’, ‘example.org.uk’ and so on.
We are planning to have ‘example.uk’ domain names available from 10 June 2014.
Nominet doesn’t set the retail price, but 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 wholesale price as a .co.uk, which typically retail for about £5 per year.
All existing Nominet domains – .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .plc.uk, .ltd.uk and .sch.uk – will continue to run as normal. (Nominet doesn’t manage all .uk domains, for example .gov.uk or .ac.uk.)
Anyone can register a new .uk domain from launch.
However, we want to look after our existing customers, so for the vast majority of existing registrants (over 96% of 10.56 million), we will automatically reserve the shorter equivalent of their current .uk domain for free for five years. At any point during that period they can decide to register the new .uk instead of, or in addition to, the domain they already have.
Fewer than 4% of registrants will not be eligible for this, because the same domain string is registered to two or more people across the different suffixes (for example, one person owns website.co.uk and another owns website.org.uk). In these instances, the .co.uk registrant will be eligible for the equivalent shorter domain.
Nominet is planning a major programme of communication and outreach with its customers to ensure people are aware of the changes. Registrars, who will play a key role in the changes, will be briefed in detail.
We’ve created a dedicated online hub where you can find out everything you need to know about the new .uk domains. For a full explanation of who has rights please see our customer information site: www.dotuklaunch.co.uk.
We think shorter domains will prove popular, and may persuade more people to join the .uk namespace, which we want to be as strong, popular and well-recognised as possible. Further, we believe we have an obligation to provide UK registrants with options comparable to what is available internationally, so that they are able to choose what best suits them while still signalling their UK presence. Most other country-code domain registries already offer registration at the second level (example.de, example.fr).
The upcoming introduction of hundreds of new generic top-level domains will give website owners much greater choice and may signal a shift towards shorter, ‘snappier’ website addresses. Nominet is committed to supporting and protecting the .uk namespace. Given the changing landscape, we need to be proactive in ensuring .uk is seen as up-to-date and desirable in the years ahead. Offering the choice of a shorter, more straightforward website address is a way of doing this.
The new shorter .uk focuses the attention firmly on your website name, putting the emphasis on your brand. It also provides a brand new space for you to create your online identity, build your online business or launch your online community while still signalling a clear connection with the UK.
For example, a business choosing a .uk domain name will benefit from being part of this established trusted and popular .uk namespace that is overwhelmingly preferred by people when searching or buying online in the UK.
As part of our market research, we spoke to businesses and internet users to understand their point of view. When we asked a representative sample of business decision-makers, 72% of them thought that example.uk should be an option (only 2% disagreed). In a survey of consumers, 50% thought that example.uk should be an option (only 3% disagreed). A sample study of Nominet customers found 70% reacted positively to the example.uk concept.
Our research reflected both that the shorter .uk domain is attractive, and .co.uk is and remains popular, which reinforced our view that adding additional choice to the .uk portfolio would mean we could offer an attractive .uk option for a broader range of registrants.
In a survey of business decision makers, 58% thought that example.uk would be more attractive to UK web users than example.co.uk (9% disagreed). When we asked consumers what would be more attractive, 36% thought that example.uk would be more attractive to UK web users than example.co.uk (9% disagreed).
Research targeting ‘digital natives’ – tech savvy early adopters – also showed the appeal of second-level domain registrations, with 28% of businesses and 33% of individuals showing a clear preference for ‘example.uk’, while 16% (for both businesses and individuals) showed a clear preference for the more familiar ‘example.co.uk’.
With second-level domain registrations, we’ll have choices available that appeal to both groups, helping us keep people in, and attract people to, the .uk namespace.
Our research reflected that the shorter .uk domain is attractive to many potential registrants, which reinforced our view that adding additional choice to the .uk portfolio will mean we can offer an attractive .uk option for a broader range of registrants.
Specifically, in a survey of business decision-makers, 53% said that if they were setting up a new website they’d be more likely to register example.uk (if it was available) over example.co.uk (9% disagreed). When asked the same question, 28% of consumers said that If they were setting up a new website they’d be more likely to register example.uk (if it was available) over example.co.uk (8% disagreed).
This is supported by consultation feedback from some of our retail registrars, for example: “There is demand from our customers and therefore a market for second level UK domains, and on the whole this will benefit UK registrants and strengthen their trading presence in this country.”
The UK has one of the most active online economies in the world, and we believe that a popular, trusted .uk namespace has made, and will continue to make a strong contribution to the digital economy. British consumers show a clear preference for .uk web addresses.
We believe this change will help ensure the UK namespace remains widely used and competitive in the future. The fast-changing nature of the internet – 67% of our current registrations are less than five years old – emphasises the need to continually attract new customers to the .uk namespace, which we are committed to making the most trusted in the world.
We are taking care to introduce these domains in a way that is responsible, and looks after existing customers.
Unlike most private businesses, where profits go to shareholders, Nominet’s not-for-profit distribution status means that any surplus gained from selling .uk domain names is either reinvested in the security and stability of the .uk namespace or, through the Nominet Trust, used to support digital technology initiatives focused on tackling social challenges. The more successful our business, the more we are able to continue this work.
Our analysis suggests that doing nothing would, over time, lead to a declining registry. We do not believe this is in the public interest. We want .uk to remain the natural home for UK businesses, organisations and consumers, who all benefit from Nominet’s public purpose agenda, being part of a trusted space, and our commitment to keeping the .uk namespace safe and secure.
For businesses choosing to move to .uk, we want to minimise additional costs as much as possible. We believe that a five-year period will mitigate the marketing/rebranding costs associated with moving to a new web address, as the changes could form part of a natural cycle of rebranding and updating marketing material.
It would also mean website owners are not pushed into making a decision, and have a substantial amount of time to observe trends in the market and decide whether or not .uk is right for them.
This was one of the most common suggestions in the consultation feedback we received, and we have come to agree that this is the best option, in that it is fair to as many people as possible, will minimise consumer confusion, and best reflects the perceptions and expectations within the domain name market. Reasons for this include:
- The vast majority of registrations in the .uk namespace are .co.uk – 93% compared to 7% for all others (.org.uk, .me.uk, etc) combined. This suggests .co.uk has come to be seen as the ‘default’ suffix for many UK businesses and consumers.
- The second-largest group (6%) are .org.uk registrations, and we understand that many .org.uk sites place a specific value on including the .org, as it indicates a ‘special’ status as a non-commercial organisation.
While we must be a sustainable business in order to support and invest in the .uk namespace, we are achieving this already and potential revenue is not the driver for the decision to introduce second level domains. As Nominet is a not-for-profit distribution organisation with a public purpose agenda, proceeds from our business are used to:
– Invest in building a robust and secure critical internet infrastructure for .uk domains
– Contribute to the development of best practice, technical standards and global internet policy
– Support the development of safety and security on the internet
– Invest in our educational site Knowthenet, which provides tips and advice on how to stay safe, legal and informed online to businesses and consumers
– Support the Nominet Trust, an independent charitable foundation that brings together, invests in and supports projects committed to using digital technology to make society better.
In contrast to our wider survey – where 72% of businesses and 50% of consumers thought example.uk should be an option, against 2% and 3% respectively who disagreed – approximately two thirds of consultation responses were against the proposals put forward to consultation.
We decided to make a number of significant changes in response, such as introducing a free five year reservation period, parity pricing and offering .co.uk holders the opportunity to secure the equivalent example.uk domain name.
For more information, see Registration of second level domain names.
No one is compelled to do anything – shorter domains are about increasing choice and we are committed to keeping and investing in our current domains.
However, the concern that businesses would feel compelled to buy the example.uk equivalent of their example.co.uk website in order to prevent anyone else from having it – ‘defensive registration’ – is one we take seriously and we explored the intentions of a sample of our customers to help us consider this further.
– 38% said they are not likely to register example.uk.
– 16% said they would register the example.uk, drop their current primary domain and transition to example.uk within a year (3% say they’d do this over a longer timeframe)
– 20% said they would add example.uk to their repertoire, and transition to example.uk as their primary domain within a year (10% would do this over a longer timeframe)
– 12% said they plan to register, add example.uk to their repertoire, but wouldn’t use example.uk.
While this suggested strong demand, it also suggested some customers would choose to spend a period holding (and paying for) example.uk on top of their existing domain. This contributed to our decision to offer the 5-year free reservation period, and to keep the wholesale price low.
It is also relevant to note here that if someone has rights in a name, and someone else registers a domain name similar to that name and takes unfair advantage of those rights, Nominet offers a Dispute Resolution Service (DRS). The DRS is based on free, confidential mediation, with decisions by experts used to break any deadlock.
It did not make sense for us to create a system where new registrants in future would be asked to pay for something that others got free. For 96% of existing registrants, we are reserving the equivalent example.uk domain for free for five years. We want to take care of our existing customers, but not to devalue or unnecessarily block off .uk domains in a way that would discourage future customers from entering the namespace.
Use our WHOIS tool – simply type in the shorter .uk domain you’re interested in and it will show who, if anyone, holds the right-of-registration.