When choosing a domain name you need to take account of the rules and regulations set by the naming authorities.
You’ll find information about the basic requirements for United Kingdom registration (for example .co.uk and .org.uk) and ‘global top-level domain names’, (for example .com and .org) below. If you want further information please visit the websites of Nominet for the United Kingdom and ICANN for global domain names. Rules particularly relate to:
The types and number of permitted characters
Organizational suffixes, e.g. COMmercial, NETwork, ACademic
Length of registration
People wanting a name for themselves, family or friends often chose .com, .co or .org suffixes.
There is a variety of further special codes, including those for Internet service providers (.net), educational institutions (.ac, .sch and .edu), the military (.mil), National Health Service organisations (.nhs), police (.police), Ministry of Defence Establishments (.mod) and governments (.gov) that are only available in strictly controlled circumstances.
There are strict rules governing the use of .Ltd and .Plc suffixes by United Kingdom Limited Companies and Public Limited Companies including that the words in the domain name must reflect the company’s name as identified in its certificate of incorporation. Further information.
Many smaller countries of the world do not have have any organizational codes, only country codes.
Most domain names incorporate a country code to show where they are registered. Each country has its own code. Domain names registered in the United Kingdom have the .uk suffix, France is .fr, Italy is .it, and (Western) Samoa is .ws. If you see .co at the end of a domain name, it stands for Columbia (not company).
Where no country code is shown, this is a ‘global top-level domain’ name, for example, .com, .org or .net. These names are held by a registration agency in the United States but people and organizations located anywhere in the world can register them.
You cannot easily register domain names in every country of the world, for example, some have residency or company trading requirements. There are no such restrictions for ‘global top level domain’ names like .com and .org or for United Kingdom registrations.
Length of the registration period
Many people do not appreciate that domain names cannot be bought outright. Instead, they are ‘registered’ for a specific number of years with the appropriate regulating, or ‘naming’, agency. At the end of the period, the current ‘registrant’ of the name has the first rights to re-register it. If the name is not re-registered then another person can register it.
Each country’s registration agency operates its own timescales. For example, it is two years for United Kingdom registration and between one and ten years for ‘global top-level domains’ like .com, .org and .net. If you want to sell your registration rights to someone else during the registration period this is relatively easy to do (and much money has been made by people selling on their registration rights). The highest price we know of is 7.5 million US dollars each for altavista.com and business.com.(BBC On-line 2.12.99).
It is essential you keep us informed of all changes to your Email and postal addresses so we can contact you when the re-registration of your domain name(s) is due. It is important you recognize that if we cannot get a message to you when re-registration is due, or you choose not to re-register it, your rights to use the name will cease.
When you register a domain you enter into a legally binding legal contract with us and the relevant naming agency(s). Please read our terms of business and those of the naming agencies carefully before ordering your domain names.
There are some legal restrictions relating to the use of domain names, for example, you must not infringe on other people’s copyright or trademarks. The law relating to domain names is complex and only gradually being developed. Different rules can apply in different countries. We are unable to offer legal advice on this topic. You should consult a lawyer if you need further information or advice.
Please note we do not check the validity of the domain names you register and we cannot be held responsible for any domain names which you illegally register through our system. It is your responsibility to choose and register legal and lawful domain names. We will follow instructions issued by the Naming Authorities if there is a dispute and reserve the right to suspend, transfer or cancel your registration and ownership, in association with a dispute resolution agency, if the name is held improperly.
For detailed information about domain names rules and regulations go to the websites of Nominet for United Kingdom registrations, ICANN for global top-level domain names (.com, .org. and .net), or consult a specialist lawyer. Information about the requirements of other countries can be found