For several years, websites based in the UK have been identified by a .co.uk domain. It’s usually the first type of domain your business, or your website provider on your behalf, will claim when you set up a website presence. It’s particularly important if you’re a UK company with a strong local bias.
Recently announced, however, is a change in how domain suffixes are structured. Over 10 million websites are going to be given the opportunity to change their domain suffix to just simply .uk
From the summer of 2014, the domain name registry Nominet will offer any website that has a UK suffix, such as .co.uk, .org,uk, or .me.uk , the chance to swap to the shorter .uk suffix. So for instance, here at CBW, we would consider switching from cleverbusinesswebsites.co.uk to cleverbusinesswebsites.uk.
If this affects your business, and it’s most likely it will, you’ve got a five-year period to decide whether you want to take on the .uk suffix entirely or run the .co.uk and .uk suffixes in parallel. You can, of course, choose to ignore the whole thing altogether and just continue as you are, as Nominet will still be offering the classic suffixes as part of their usual domain packages.
This means that you have no pressure to make an immediate decision right now and you can wait until you’re ready to change things like your business cards or letterheads.
What do you need to do if you want a .uk suffix
More precise information on the exact release date for .uk domains has yet to be published but it’s best to be prepared so you don’t miss out.
Nominet will be awarding unique applications for a .uk domain name for those first in the queue – unique in this case means domains which don’t currently have a .co.uk or .org.uk equivalent.
Switching from a .co.uk, a .org.uk or a .me.uk domain to a shorter .uk domain isn’t going to be an expensive choice. The price for a .uk suffix is £3.50 per year for a single-year subscription, with a multi-year subscription being offered for £2.50 per year.
It may be the case that your business holds the .co.uk version of the domain but someone else has the .org.uk. version. To avoid any confusion with competing addresses, any new .uk domain will be offered first of all to the holder of the .co.uk address.
In addition, be cautious about jumping in too quickly and pre-registering with websites that assign your .uk domain to you before the summer 2014 release date. Before signing up to anything, you should check that you know exactly what’s included as these types of promotions cannot guarantee you will get your chosen domain name.
Take your time & protect your brand
With all the hullaballoo surrounding the upcoming .uk domain releases, it’s good to remember that these changes won’t happen overnight. If you are a holder of a .uk domain, you may want to start thinking about whether the shorter .uk domains will affect you and your brand, and if you would like to apply for one, once it becomes available.
A handy way to keep informed is to register for updates, so you’ll be able to react quickly if you want to secure a shorter address.
From February 2014, Nominet, the company who runs the .uk domain namespace, is planning to launch a dedicated hub that provides all the relevant information on the new .uk domains.