Nominet and .uk

November 20, 2013

The latest development in the ongoing drive from Nominet to go ahead with its plans for .uk web addresses was revealed on 20 November. SCL members will recall that the original proposals met with a lukewarm to frosty response when sent out for consultation (see here). It was however always clear that the responses were to be the cue for alteration rather than abandonment and the adoption of the latest proposals, following further consultation, is no surprise.

Nominet states that the latest plans are ‘designed to help the company evolve the .uk namespace and improve standards in the face of a rapidly changing internet landscape’. Highlighted changes proposed by Nominet in this and other fields include these:

1.     The introduction of second level domain names in the .uk namespace – for the first time, shorter, simpler ‘’ domain names will be available alongside ‘’, ‘’ and so on. These are to be available from ‘summer 2014’.

2.     A revised draft of the Registrar Agreementis now published and open for comment.

3.     A proposed Data Quality policy has now been published and is open for comment.

.uk Namespace

Nominet CEO Lesley Cowley comments: ‘In an industry that is seeing an unprecedented level of change with the upcoming introduction of over a thousand new top level domains, we’re hard at work to ensure innovation in .uk keeps UK web users and businesses ahead of the curve. At the same time, we’re holding ourselves to a higher standard – expanding the choices available to our customers, upping the bar for security, data quality and the way we engage with our registrars to ensure everyone registering, managing or visiting a website with a domain ending in .uk can be proud to be part of a strong, trusted community.’

Over ten million existing .uk customers will be offered the shorter equivalent of their current address, with five years to decide whether they want to use it in addition to, or instead of the domain they already have. In the small proportion of instances where there could be competition – eg where one person holds ‘’ and another holds ‘’, the shorter domain will be offered to the commercial entity with the registered name. (Perhaps this is on the basis that they will be able to afford it; it is hard to imagine any ethical basis for that preference: Ed.) 

The wholesale price for the new domains will be £3.50 per year for single year registrations and £2.50 per year for multi-year registrations. This is the same price as a current domain.

All Nominet’s existing domains (,,,,, and will continue to run as normal.

Nominet is planning a major programme of communication and outreach with its customers to ensure people are aware of the changes, and intends to announce a definitive launch date by February 2014.

The responses to the second consultation can be viewed here. On a very brief scan of these documents (they were not easily found), it seems surprising that the public commitment to the new plan follows from yet another negative response on consultation.

Registrar Agreement

The Registrar Agreement is the contractual basis on which Nominet deals with all of its registrars, from organisations who manage a portfolio of their own domains to businesses who sell domain names to end-users. By updating the agreement, Nominet aims ‘to recognise the diversity of business models, help registrants have a positive customer experience, and ensure the data the registry holds is of the highest quality’. The Registrar Agreement offers an ‘accredited’ status for those that meet higher quality standards.

A final draft of Nominet’s new Registrar Agreement has been published with amendments based on consultation feedback. These include a new, clear policy regarding Nominet’s commitment and expectations around data quality, as well as a decision not to introduce tag fees at this time.

Registrars and other interested stakeholders are invited to submit comments by 20 December 2013.

The final version of the agreement is expected to be agreed in early 2014 and registrars will then be given 30 days’ notice before it comes into force. Nominet will provide comprehensive support over a six-month period to help registrars move across to the new model. 

Data Quality

As part of Nominet’s ongoing commitment to raising the standard of information held for .uk registrations, a proposed data quality policy has been published. It sets out data quality requirements and commitments for Nominet and its registrars moving forward.

Anyone interested in this issue is invited to give their feedback on the proposed policy by 20 December 2013. Feedback will be published (where permission has been granted) in the New Year.