.UK domain: Facts about your Rights of Registration

When shopping online, looking up business services, or finding a blog; many internet users will trust a UK domain more, or even actively seek one out. Almost 35 years ago, the first UK domains were introduced, and as of 2018 the number of UK domain registered sites has boomed to a massive 9 million. It’s perhaps due to this growth in domain demand that Nominet, the official registry for UK domain names, launched a shorter, snappier UK domain - simply .uk. This domain can be used by anyone, for any purpose, and it’s because of this reason it’s thought that the domain will become popular quickly – meaning you need to act now in order to register your site’s right to the .uk domain.

You may already have the rights of registration reserved for your existing site, but the deadline on this reservation is fast approaching, and soon enough any unregistered domains will be open to all, leaving your site at risk to potential threats. Read on to find out what the risks of not registering are, and how to ensure the safety of your domain.

The history of UK domains

Each country generally has its own internet country code top-level domain (also refered to as a ccTLD), and the one for the countries in the UK is .uk. Originally, the form .gb was intended, but this was quickly replaced by .uk, and is now not used at all. This means that all websites, which are UK-based, have this .uk domain, which was introduced in 1985, and is now one of the most popular domains across the world, in forms such as .org.uk, .co.uk, .me.uk, and .net.uk.

However, it’s important to note that since the 10th of June 2014 new domain registrations directly under simply .uk have been possible -  this means that although the top-level domain .uk has been around since 1985 (in forms such as the list above), the shorter .uk form has only been available since 2014.

Your very own .uk domain name!

Short, sharp, .uk. Claim your new domain name now!

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Why does the UK need a new domain?

The shorter .uk domain was released on June 10th 2014. Nominet, the official registry for UK domain names, claims that the .uk domain is for everyone, and not restricted to particular kinds of website. This is different from the popular and trusted .co.uk and .org.uk domains, which are, generally speaking, reserved for businesses and organisations respectively. This may be one reason that the .uk domain was released, another being that having a .uk address gives a website the opportunity to create a sense of local identity, and gain the trust of web users.

If an international organisation with a branch in the UK has a .uk address, not only will their Google search results be higher in the UK, but UK users are more likely to visit it. If a shop has a .uk domain, it shows the online shopper that this shop is based in the UK, and less likely to charge more on those dreaded shipping costs. The same is true for bloggers, for example, who may wish to highlight their UK relevance with a .uk domain, and secure or grow their UK readership.

Another reason may be that new domain names mean more space on the web – with an already huge number of UK domains, there needs to be lots of domain possibilities so that new websites can be launched. This is, of course, good news, but existing websites do need to be careful that their established domain isn’t snatched away by a new website, or worse, targeted by cybersquatters – see below. This is why it’s highly important to make use of your website’s reserved .uk domain before time runs out.


If you're already an IONOS customer and your domain has been registered and maintained since 10.06.2014, follow these steps to claim your rights for eligible .uk-domain:

- Log in into the IONOS Control Panel
- Search or select your eligible .uk domain
- Submit the request

The domain will then be transferred to your account. The domain is free of charge until May 2020 and will then be charged at regular price per year!

Who can register for a .uk domain?

You have the right to reserve the .uk domain if your .co.uk, .org.uk, or .me.uk domain was registered and has been continually renewed since 10th June 2014. You can use this domain checker tool in order to see whether you have the rights to a .uk domain.

Domain Check

There’s a hierarchy in which sites get the .uk version reserved:

  1. .co.uk
  2. .org.uk
  3. .me.uk
  4. .net.uk
  5. .ltd.uk
  6. .plc.uk

So, if no .co.uk domain exists, the right to registration passes on to .org.uk. It may be that you have the automatic right to the .uk domain, but if you’ve checked and you don’t, it may be worth contacting the owner of the domain who does have the right, and asking if they could pass it on to you. Also note that any websites registered after the .uk domain launch on June 10th 2014 don’t have the .uk domain reserved for them – but this doesn’t mean that these websites are not eligible, and it’s always worth checking to see if the .uk domain is still available.

What are the risks of not registering?

The right to the .uk domain for qualified websites has been reserved until June 10th 2019 (July 1st 2019 for IONOS customers), meaning that no one can take the same .uk domain. After this date, unregistered .uk domains will be up for grabs, and this is where you could be at risk. Missing the deadline means that anyone can register their website, email address, and so on using this .uk domain - and you could be in danger of cybersquatting.

Cybersquatters may take your potential .uk domain and impersonate your site, scamming potential customers, which in turn damages your business’ trustworthiness. Sometimes, cybersquatters will create a site with bad news reports and reviews of your business, and will only remove this content when you offer to buy their domain, at a higher, disproportionate price. You may also be liable to typosquatting, which takes advantage of customers mistyping your business’ web address, and either leads them to a competitor’s website, or distracts them from reaching you. It’s for these reasons that you should make sure that you should use your right to the .uk domain as quickly as possible!

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