New .UK Domain Names

June 24, 2014
Karen

The new shorter .uk domain names were launched earlier this month, meaning you can now register website.uk as well as website.co.uk. These new domain names cost the same as a .co.uk one does, so it isn’t going to break the bank. However if you want both versions of your UK domain name, it has now doubled your domain name costs.

Should I have both .uk and .co.uk? Yes, this would be the most sensible approach. If somebody else had a variation of your domain name, they could be getting your customers! As more people get used to the .uk domains it could eventually become the standard and people may start to type it as a default.

If you own a .co.uk domain name, you do not need to rush to get your .uk name. Nominet, the handler of all UK domain names, have introduced a reservation system. The aim of this is to prevent anybody from speculatively buying domain names and trying to sell them on at an inflated price. These reservations are in place for five years, so there is no need to panic-buy! If you want to switch your website over to the new domain name then you can wait until a convenient time, for example when you are ready to have new business cards printed with the new web address on.

Here is how the reservation system works:

If you already have a .co.uk domain name then the .uk one is automatically reserved for you until June 2019.

If you have a .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .plc.uk or .ltd.uk and nobody else has the .co.uk domain name then you get the .uk domain name reserved for you.

If nobody holds the reservation rights, then anybody is free to register the .uk domain name.

Different domain registration companies seem to be taking different approaches to how they are handling the checking of these reservations. Some are only allowing you to register a .uk domain name if you have previously registered the .co.uk with them, which does make things a little awkward if you use more than one company to register domain names. Other registrars are allowing any .uk domain name to be registered by anyone, but beware that once they do the necessary checks with Nominet if they are not able to get the domain name they will probably have to cancel your order.

This new domain name structure hasn’t introduced a whole load of new domain names that you can get creative with. Nor is it particularly beneficial to buy the .uk versions of domain names you already have. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if the uptake of the new names was pretty slow. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2019 when the reservations come to an end. Will there be a sudden rush of companies buying their .uk domains? It seems unlikely that they will ever be able to phase out the .co.uk domain names, so I expect that by 2019 we are all going to have to register both.