Major shift coming to .uk namespace.
Under the approved plan, second level .uk domain names (e.g. example.uk) will be available for registration at a wholesale price of £3.50 for single year registrations and £2.50 for multi-year registrations.
Owners of existing third level .co.uk domain names will get first rights to the matching second level .uk domain names. Nominet will reserve the equivalent second level domain name for five years. The .co.uk domain owner can claim the matching second level domain name at any time during this period. The right is with the domain name, not the current registrant, so the right is transferable if a domain name changes hands.
To prevent gaming, this only applies to .co.uk domain names that were registered as of 11:59 pm on October 28, 2013.
Registrants of .org.uk and other third level domain names will not get secondary rights to the .uk domain name if the .co.uk registrant doesn’t opt to register the domain name. However, if no matching .co.uk was registered as of October 28, then the first right goes to the .org.uk owner.
93% of third level .uk domain names are .co.uk domain names, according to Nominet. In only 4% of cases is a third level domain registered under more than one second level .uk domain name.
The original second level proposal by Nominet didn’t give priority to current third level .uk nameholders, and also proposed a wholesale price of £20 per year.
Although I suspect many .co.uk owners will opt to register the shorter .uk domain names, it will be interesting to see what they do with them. Changing to the second level domain will be like moving your site to an entirely different domain name in the eyes of Google. That’s not easy and has search engine repercussions. Perhaps Google will design a system to make it easier for customers to make the transition. Otherwise, .co.uk owners might want to just forward the shorter domain to their existing .co.uk domain.