The new .uk domain

By Martin Edwards

Published December 2017

If you have a website registered in the UK, its domain name probably ends .co.uk or .org.uk. These domains were intended for commercial and non-commercial organisations respectively. Many countries don’t have this distinction — for example, French, Italian and German domain names end simply .fr, .it and .de.

In 2014 the body that oversees UK domains, Nominet, launched the .uk domain. Its marketing suggests it hopes this will become the new normal for British websites. As a publicity stunt, Stephen Fry was first to buy one.

To prevent a land-grab, we’re now in a sunrise period in which owners of .co.uk and .org.uk domains registered prior to 29 October 2013 have exclusive rights to the equivalent .uk until June 2019. This is to prevent, for example, Bob down the road quickly buying bbc.uk before the BBC has the chance, a practice known as cybersquatting.

Consider that to complicate things, example.co.uk and example.org.uk may have different owners, and only one example.uk is available. The former gets priority.

Unfortunately, while a .uk may be reserved for you, it’s not free to actually start using it. That will cost you the same yearly rate as your .co.uk or .org.uk (and you may remember that these rose at least 50% in 2016). And because .co.uk and .org.uk will still exist, you’re likely to want to keep renewing both your old and new domains for the foreseeable future, to protect your brand.

Of course only a cynic could suggest this is an ingeniously simple way for Nominet to double its revenue for no real reason.

You may know that domain names aren’t usually bought directly from registries like Nominet. Instead, you use a registrar. The registrar is your point of contact for technical and billing issues. It takes a cut of the money and pays Nominet a standard wholesale price.

In September 2017, the popular registrar 123‑reg automatically registered eligible .uk domains for its customers for free. This is sort of a nice idea, but for most customers will probably mean that beyond 2019, 123‑reg will be automatically billing them to renew these domains — which they may not even have wanted, nor even realise they’d been given. Of course, you can opt-out.

Again, only a cynic… yep.

Need help?

I’m a computer technician and tutor serving North Oxford, Kidlington, Woodstock and the surrounding villages. Visit my home page to find out more and get in touch.