Common Questions

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RobM

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Hi there. I will be answering questions about the UK domain market as that is where my main experience has been over the last couple of decades. If you have any questions please post them here. I will also be updating this post with common questions that will be familiar to uk tagholders but might not be so well known outside uk.

1) Can anyone register a uk domain
Yes. Unlike some other country code extensions (cctld) the uk domain market is open to anyone. With over 10 million domains registered there is quite a thriving industry, parking, and aftersales market.

2) Where can I register a uk domain - what is the cheapest?
Most domain registrars will register uk domains. However be aware that many of the 'normal' com registrars can be quite pricey. Although I don't like their control panels you can get an idea of pricing from registrars such as 123-reg.co.uk and 1and1.co.uk. However nominet, the registry (uk equivalent of verisign), charge £3.75 (+£0.75vat) to every registrar so if you see pricing below the £4.50 per year it will be a registrar offer and not a general price. It works out cheaper for a minimum amount of domains to be a registrar 'tagholder' yourself (see below).

3) Can I become a UK registrar? Is it hard and expensive like .com?
When you have a certain amount of uk domains it is probably more advisable to become a registrar yourself. You don't have to sell to the general public but it means you can take control of your own portfolio directly and take advantage of the low cost pricing direct from nominet. You can also attempt to dropcatch domains before they are publicly available - more later) The fees for that are only £400 (as opposed to the $xxx,xxx for com/net etc) and £100 per year. The process takes a few days/couple of weeks to complete. You then have access to a control panel directly at nominet, the registrar, where you can maintain your portfolio, make changes, transfer out etc. You give nominet a 'tag' which is an identifier for all domains registered to you and that is applied to all registrations you make for yourself, or you sell to the public. Example godaddy's tag is, surprisingly, GODADDY. 123 reg is 123REG. Mine is MELITAWEB (yes I know it's awful and I will change it one day) etc. I, like many hundreds of tagholders, don't offer registrations to the public but there is nothing to stop a tagholder from being a public registrar like some of the ones already mentioned.

4) What uk domain extensions are available and which is the best?
The bulk of businesses, and the most activity, occurs in the .co.uk namespace. This has been around since the registry start. You can now also register .uk domains (more about that later).
Also available are .org.uk but there are a lot fewer of those and not many sales, .me.uk (never caught on really not worth mentioning), and some others that have only a handful of registrations and are reserved for schools and the like.

5) Why are some .uk domains not available to register when they are not registered to anyone?
When the registry started .uk domains did not exist. They weren't introduced until June 2014 (even though people had asked for them a decade before). This caused a lot of concerns for people who had already registered, and in many cases created a brand, on a co.uk or org.uk. As such nominet decided a system (ROR - rights of registration) where the corresponding .uk domains would not be available to the general public for another 5 years, until June 2019, but could only be registered in the meantime by the person with rights. Some took this up and many have still not registered them but have the rights to, thus meaning they are still not available. Any new registrations made after June 2014 did not have this restriction meaning that .uk domains could also be registered. Also any domains that drop with .uk rights cannot be reregistered with the rights meaning that the .uk becomes available at the same time as the co.uk or org.uk it corresponds to. In June 2019 all .uk domains not registered will become available for everyone.

6) What is the drop cycle/expiration for a UK domain?
When a uk domain expires it enters the 'expiry' phase. This means the domain still resolves and (unless some registrars like 123reg change the resolution to point to their own page) will work. This is approx 60 days. After that the domain enters the 'suspension' phase. Any resolution stops working but the site can still be renewed by the original registrant. If, after 92 days, the domain has not been renewed it will drop and become available for registration again by anyone. To date registrars are not allowed to renew domains for themselves as it is only the original registrant that has that option. If a registrar wants a domain he has to wait for it to drop before attempting (like others) to register it. On drop day a domain can become available at any time during the full 24 hour period with supposed randomisation occurring so that the order of the drop is not known. Tagholders can issue a limited amount of commands throughout the day to try and register domains (most valuable domains are gone within milliseconds) before the domain is available to the general public.

7) Have their been any high value sales of uk domains?
Yes many. A look at namebio or dnjournal will show that there are uk sales every week. Although these domains do not command the prices that .com gets the extension is cheap to register and has an active aftermarket. It is also far cheaper and easier to enter the drop market and so far hasn't been monopolised by the likes of namejet, pool etc. Also google loves them and often a co.uk will rank higher in google.co.uk than its com counterpart. As such it is possible to build a brand, site, network etc on a uk domain for anyone.
 
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