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TLD typeCountry code top-level domain
RegistryNominet UK
SponsorNominet UK
Intended useEntities connected with the United Kingdom
Actual useEntities connected with the United Kingdom
Registered domains10,586,358 (10,298,553 third level and 287,805 second level) (31 March 2015)[1]
Registration restrictionsNone
Dispute policiesDRS Policy
Registry Websitenominet.uk

.uk is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As of February 2016, it is the fifth most popular top-level domain worldwide (after .com, .cn, .de and .net), with over 10 million registrations.[2][3][4]

In October 1984, RFC 920[5] set out the creation of ccTLDs generally using country codes derived from the corresponding two-letter code in the ISO 3166-1 list. GB is the UK's ISO 3166 country code. However, the .uk domain had been created separately a few months before the compilation of the ISO-derived list.[6] Consequently, .gb was never widely used and it is no longer possible to register under that domain.

New registrations directly under .uk have been accepted by Nominet since 10 June 2014 08:00 BST, however there is a reservation period for existing customers who already have a .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .ltd.uk or .plc.uk domain to claim the corresponding .uk domain, which runs until 07:59 BST on 10 June 2019.[7]

.uk has used OpenDNSSEC since March 2010.[8]


As with other ccTLDs in the early days it was originally delegated to an individual by Jon Postel. In time, it passed from Peter Kirstein at UCL to Willie Black at the UK Education and Research Networking Association (UKERNA). Originally, domain requests were emailed, manually screened by and then forwarded to the UK Naming Committee before being processed by UKERNA. Membership of this committee was restricted to a group of high-end ISPs who were part of a formal peering arrangement.

The Naming Committee was organised as a mailing list to which all proposed names were circulated. The members would consider the proposals under a ruleset that insisted that all domain names should be very close if not identical to a registered business name of the registrant. Members of the Naming Committee could object to any name, and if at least a small number of objections were received, the name was refused.

By the mid-1990s the growth of the Internet, and particularly the advent of the World Wide Web was pushing requests for domain name registrations up to levels that were not manageable by a group of part-time voluntary managers. Oliver Smith of Demon Internet forced the issue by providing the committee with a series of automated tools, called the "automaton", which formalised and automated the naming process end to end. This allowed many more registrations to be processed far more reliably and rapidly, and inspired individuals such as Ivan Pope to explore more entrepreneurial approaches to registration.

Various plans were put forward for the possible management of the domain, mostly Internet service providers seeking to stake a claim, each of which were naturally unacceptable to the rest of the committee. In response to this Black, as the .uk Name, stepped up with a bold proposal for a not-for-profit commercial entity to deal with the .uk domain properly. Commercial interests initially balked at this, but with widespread support Nominet UK was formed in 1996 to be the .uk Network Information Centre, a role which it continues to this day.

The general form of the rules (i.e. which domains can be registered and whether to allow second level domains) was set by the Naming Committee. Nominet has not made major changes to the rules, although it has introduced a new second level domain .me.uk for individuals.

Until 10 June 2014 it was not possible to register a domain name directly under .uk (such as internet.uk); it was only possible as a third-level domain (such as internet.co.uk).

However, some domains delegated before the creation of Nominet UK were in existence even before 10 June 2014, for example mod.uk[9] (Ministry of Defence), parliament.uk[10] (Parliament), bl.uk[11] and british-library.uk[12] (the British Library), nls.uk[13] (the National Library of Scotland), nhs.uk[14] (The National Health Service), and jet.uk[15] (UKAEA as operator of the Joint European Torus experimental fusion tokamak).

Currently the rights to the .uk domain name are owned by Nominet UK.[16] It is possible to directly register a domain name with Nominet UK, but it is faster and cheaper to do it via a Nominet-accredited domain registrar.

.UK Right of Registration[edit]

If a domain was registered before 23:59hrs on 28 October 2013 the user will have the rights to the equivalent .uk domain (providing there was no other corresponding .co.uk, .org.uk, me.uk, .ltd.uk, .plc.uk or .net.uk registered). For example, if ‘your-company.co.uk’ was held since before the 10 June 2014, the owners (the registrant) of 'your-company.co.uk’ have had the reserved right of registering ‘your-company.uk’, up to 07:59 on 10 June 2019.

Second-level domains[edit]


.co.uk, .ltd.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .nic.uk, .org.uk, .plc.uk and .sch.uk are managed by Nominet UK and except for .nic.uk are available for registration by the public (though they all carry various degrees of restrictions). Other second-level domains are managed by various government agencies, and generally more strongly controlled.


  • .govt.uk – former government domain, now deleted and replaced by .gov.uk
  • .orgn.uk – former non-profit organisations domain, now deleted and replaced by .org.uk
  • .lea.uklocal education authorities; since fallen out of use.
  • .mil.uk – the Ministry of Defence have always used mod.uk for their external domain, but use mil.uk on their private network. mil.uk exists only as a CNAME (alias) for mod.uk in the .uk zone file.[citation needed]


  • .cym.uk – A second-level domain for Wales; it did not have support of the Welsh Internet community, with a .cym domain being proposed, though later rejected, with either .cymru or .wales proposed.[24]
  • .scot.uk – A second level domain for Scotland; it was rejected by Nominet. A top-level domain of .scot has since been delegated to the root in 2014.
  • .soc.uk – proposed for Social and Society use.

Allocation of domain names[edit]

Allocations are on a strict first-come, first-served basis to qualified applicants. There are no territorial restrictions: applicants need not have any connection to the UK other than those outlined below for .ltd.uk and other restricted domains.

.co.uk is by far the most used of the domains, followed by .org.uk then .me.uk. .plc.uk and .ltd.uk are only rarely used. The number of new registrations for each of the different .uk domains on a month by month basis can be seen on the Nominet UK website.[25]

The intended restriction of .co.uk to companies is purely nominal; in practice it is open to any and all applicants. Likewise, whilst .org.uk is for organisations, there are no restrictions on registering domains. While .me.uk originally had no restrictions on registrants it has since been tightened up to require registrants to be natural persons (i.e. not companies, etc.).

However, registrants in .ltd.uk must be, and remain, private limited companies incorporated under the UK Companies Acts. In addition, names can only be registered if they correspond (in accordance with the algorithm in the rules[26] of registration) with the exact company name, as recorded at the companies registry at Companies House. The same conditions apply for public limited companies which wish to use a .plc.uk domain name. Neither of these domains is widely used.

.net.uk is more open, but the Nominet regulations still mean that a registrant must be an ISP, or a similar body, and that the domain is not used for providing services to end-users. .nic.uk, however, is limited solely to domains operated by Nominet.

.ac.uk domains are intended for the use of higher education institutions and further education colleges, and are also used by some academic support bodies such as the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service[27] public research establishments, and learned societies such as the Royal Society.[28] Primary and secondary education uses .sch.uk.


Unusually, .sch.uk domains are allocated at the fourth level, with the third level being taken up by the name of the local authority (LA, previously LEA or local education authority) e.g. schoolname.leaname.sch.uk. For example, The Campion School in Hornchurch has the domain name campion.havering.sch.uk (currently redirects to thecampionschool.org.uk) and West Exe School in Exeter has the domain name westexe.devon.sch.uk. Previously applications were made in the normal way, but after Nominet came to an arrangement with the education authorities, one domain per school was issued automatically. Those that had already registered a co.uk domain were still given one, and were able to redirect it to their co.uk domain.

Country-Code TLDs under semi-British administration[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2015 .UK statistics". Nominet. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  2. ^ DENIC (February 2016). "Comparison of international Domain Numbers". Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  3. ^ "BBC News - Landmark 10 millionth .uk site registered with Nominet". BBC News. Bbc.co.uk. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  4. ^ ".Uk domain hits 10 million milestone". Domain Name Wire. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  5. ^ J. Postel and J. Reynolds (October 1984), Request for Comments: 920, Network Working Group
  6. ^ Milton Mueller (2002), Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, p. 79, ISBN 9780262632980
  7. ^ ".uk domain dates and definitions". Nominet. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  8. ^ ".uk DNSSEC Status update" (PDF). Nominet. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Ministry of Defence - GOV.UK". mod.uk.
  10. ^ "www.parliament.uk Home page". UK Parliament.
  11. ^ "THE BRITISH LIBRARY - The world's knowledge". bl.uk.
  12. ^ "THE BRITISH LIBRARY - The world's knowledge". british-library.uk.
  13. ^ "National Library of Scotland". nls.uk.
  14. ^ "NHS Choices - Your health, your choices". www.nhs.uk. 2018-08-15.
  15. ^ "JET Index Page". jet.uk.
  16. ^ "Nominet history (from archive.org)". Archived from the original on 2 June 2002. Retrieved 15 July 2009.
  17. ^ "supremecourt.uk, jcpc.uk, royal.uk and princeofwales.uk domains delegated - Nominet". Nominet. 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  18. ^ "UK court systems set to adopt judiciary.uk domain names". BBC News. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  19. ^ "UK Domain Names - Nominet". Nominet. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  20. ^ "UK Domain Names - Nominet". Nominet. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  21. ^ "UK Domain Names - Nominet". Nominet. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  22. ^ "supremecourt.uk, jcpc.uk, royal.uk and princeofwales.uk domains delegated - Nominet". Nominet. 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  23. ^ "supremecourt.uk, jcpc.uk, royal.uk and princeofwales.uk domains delegated - Nominet". Nominet. 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  24. ^ "Bilingual Welsh & English Customer Support Service for dotCymru and dotWales gTLDs". Nominet UK. 10 December 2012. Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  25. ^ www.nominet.org.uk/intelligence/statistics/registration/ Archived 16 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "Nominet .uk domain name rules". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  27. ^ "Undergraduate". UCAS.
  28. ^ http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/

External links[edit]