.uk Domains

In June 2014, Nominet will open up registration of domains directly under “.uk”, removing the need for “.co.uk”. We explain what’s changing and how this affects you.

What is changing?

From 10 June 2014 it will be possible to register domains directly under “.uk” – for example, we will be able to use “www.alberon.uk” instead of the longer “www.alberon.co.uk”. All existing .co.uk, .org.uk and other UK domains will continue to work, and it will still be possible to register new domains with these extensions if you want to.

Why is this changing?

Many countries already offer registrations directly under the country code – e.g. “www.example.fr” in France – and there are many generic extensions that do the same – e.g. “www.example.tv”. Nominet, the UK domain registry, is opening up these new domain names in order to be consistent with these other extensions. They also want to remain competitive, especially as more generic extensions will be added in the next few years, so they want to give us the choice of shorter domain names.

What is the advantage of a .uk domain?

The benefit is a shorter domain name, with more emphasis placed on your brand name instead of the extension.

Are there any disadvantages?

A lot of people are used to .co.uk domains, so at first they may find it slightly confusing. However, over time we expect .uk to become the standard. In the mean time, you could register both .uk and .co.uk domains.

What about SEO?

We do not expect there to be any SEO advantages or disadvantages to using a .uk domain instead of .co.uk – it’s purely cosmetic. However, a .uk domain has an advantage over a generic one (such as .com or .tv) because it signals to search engines and users that your target market is the UK.

How will this affect existing domains?

Existing UK domains will continue to work exactly as before. You do not need to change your domain name – this simply gives you another option.

How do I protect my brand name?

If you already own a .co.uk domain, and it was registered before 28 Oct 2013, the equivalent .uk domain will be reserved for you for 5 years. This means no-one else can buy it, even if you don’t. For example, we own “www.alberon.co.uk”, so we will have the exclusive right to register “www.alberon.uk” when registrations open on 10 June 2014.

If you have a different UK domain extension (e.g. .org.uk), or if you registered your .co.uk domain after 28 Oct 2013, the .uk domain will be reserved for you as long as no other UK domain exists with the same name. You can check who has the right-of-registration using Nominet’s Rights Lookup Tool.

Domains will be reserved until June 2019, so you have plenty of time to decide whether you want to use your .uk domain or not. After that time you would need to buy the domain to prevent anyone else using it. More information about reservations is available on Nominet’s UK Hub website.

How can I register a new .uk domain?

You cannot register a .uk domain until 10 June 2014. However, if the domain isn’t reserved, you can register the equivalent .co.uk domain and the .uk domain will be reserved for you. (Use the Rights Lookup Tool to find out if a domain is still available.)

After 10 June, .uk domains that haven’t yet been reserved will be made available to register on a first-come, first-served basis.

Is this a chance to grab a good domain name?

Sorry, but no. All the domain names that currently exist in .co.uk, .org.uk, etc. will be reserved for 5 years, so you won’t be able to use this as a chance to grab a good/short domain name.

How do I change my website/email to .uk?

You will need to wait until 10 June – then you can register the .uk domain you want. It will probably cost the same as a .co.uk domain, though it is up to each registrar to set the price. You will then need your IT support and/or web host to migrate your website and email. The process is the same as if you were moving to a completely different domain name, and could take some time depending on the complexity of your organisation. You will probably want to keep your old domain in service alongside the new one for several years, to ensure you don’t lose any business.

What should I do now?

Decide whether you want to start using a .uk domain, either to replace or in addition to your current domain. If you do, or you just want to protect your brand name, use the Rights Lookup Tool to check if the domain name is reserved. If it’s not reserved, consider purchasing the .co.uk domain now to reserve the .uk domain.

Please contact us if you have questions about .uk domains, or you want help moving to a .uk domain when they launch in June.

About Alberon

We have been designing and building bespoke software solutions and websites for organisations in Oxford for over 12 years, helping them to work more effectively and realise their full potential.

Our friendly, highly experienced team of web designers and software developers are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the outcomes they want. From web design and development, to complex software solutions, we apply our creative and technical know-how to deliver the perfect solution.

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