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.uk registrars, requirements and history
Of all the top level domains .uk is one of the top five most popular extensions with close to eleven million registrations in 2013. It was first introduced in 1985 and has since been a fast growing choice for registrants. This extension was intended to be used only with entities associated with the United Kingdom meaning that registrants had to be residents or have an affiliation with the UK.
There is one other serious restriction when it comes to .uk domain, though. It is illegal to register just the .uk extension and a second level domain must be used. For example, .co.uk is used for commercial organizations and .org.uk is used for non-profit organizations. These two second level domains are for general use but others are highly restricted such as parliament.uk, mod.uk, or ac.uk which are used for parliament, the ministry of defense, and academic institutions respectively. Third level domains under .uk are rarely used. Some are still around because they were registered before new rules came into place.
Currently, .uk is administered by Nominet UK and has been since 1996. Prior to that it was owned and administered by the UK Education and Research Networking Association. There were many bids for .uk during the 1990s but Nominet UK won. It was awarded to them by the UK Naming Committee which sets rules for internet domain names and extensions. Since then, Nominet UK has added just one second level domain which is .me.uk and geared toward individuals with personal websites.