Nominet, the Registry responsible for operating the .UK country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for the United Kingdom, launched the registration of domain names directly under the .UK top level domain name extension back in June 2014. Eligible registrants were given five years to secure their .UK domain names. They only have a couple of months left as the reservation period is soon coming to an end.
Before June 2014, domain name registrations were only possible at the third level, under extensions such as .CO.UK, .ORG.UK, .NET.UK, .ME.UK, .LTD.UK or .PLC.UK. When Nominet launched .UK domain names, it introduced a five-year grandfathering period giving registrants of existing third level domain names priority to secure the matching .UK equivalents.
However, not all registrants are eligible as the .UK rights reservation period applies to domain names registered before 28 October 2013. There are a few additional points to note:
- When the same string is registered to two or more people under different third levels (for example, one person may own <domain.co.uk> and another <domain.org.uk>), then it is the registrant of the .CO.UK domain name who is eligible for the .UK equivalent.
- If no .CO.UK domain name was registered then it is the registrant of the .ORG.UK domain name who is eligible.
- If a .CO.UK domain name was registered between 28 October 2013 and 10 June 2014, its registrant is automatically eligible for the .UK equivalent, unless the same string was registered under another third level prior to 28 October 2013 (in which case the third level registrant is eligible).
- After 10 June 2014, new registrations at the third level did not grant registrants any automatic right to register the .UK equivalent.
As this is slightly complex, Nominet provides information as to who is eligible to register any given .UK domain name via its WHOIS tool.
At the time of writing, over 3.1 million .UK domain names have not been claimed. Whether eligible registrants are not aware of their rights or whether they are simply not interested in getting the .UK equivalent of their domain names is hard to say. In any event, they have until 25 June 2019 to register their .UK domain names.
.UK domain names that are not claimed by the deadline will be released to the general public on 1 July 2019. Cybersquatters and domainers will likely take advantage of this and, as a consequence, we might see an increase in the number of complaints filed under Nominet’s Dispute Resolution Service in the second half of the year. Eligible registrants thus need to be aware of this risk and are advised to secure their .UK domain names before the deadline.