On 5 July 2011, Nominet, the Registry for .UK domain names, announced that it was considering the possible introduction of Variable Registration Periods (VRPs) for domain names. As some readers may know, the registration period for .UK domain names is currently fixed at two years.  

Further to a mounting number of requests to open up the registration period, Nominet’s Policy Advisory Body (PAB) decided that it would be advisable to consider the introduction of VRPs. The PAB then put forward its recommendations, which the Board approved, including that, subject to pricing principles being agreed, single and other multi-year registrations could be introduced for .UK domain name registrations.

Another factor to be considered when deciding whether to introduce VRPs is how they work in other Top Level Domains. For example in extensions such as .COM, .NET and .ORG, a demand was noted for both shorter and longer domain name registration periods, with around 90% of registrations being for a one year term, although there was also interest in longer registration periods by some registrants in order to increase the security of their registrations.  

Of course with the potential introduction of VRPs, a pricing structure would need to be considered in parallel not just to factor in the different time periods but also the administration of a more complex domain name registration and renewal system.

Further to consideration of the above mentioned points and based on discussion with various stakeholders, Nominet has put forward a number of proposed potential options concerning the introduction of VRPs. Feedback received in relation to these proposals will be taken into consideration by Nominet when deciding whether to eventually make any changes to the registration system for .UK domain names. To read Nominet’s proposal for potential registration periods/pricing schemes please go to: http://www.nominet.org.uk/about/consultations/VRP