British businesses can switch to the new national web address of '.uk' from today in a move expected to appeal to tech-savvy entrepreneurs and startups.
The change means companies can abandon the more familiar '.co.uk' and '.com' suffixes in favour of adopting the shorter and simpler '.uk', bringing it in line with Germany's '.de' and France's '.fr'.
TV presenter Stephen Fry has already made the shift for his own eponymous website, while tech startup Lowdownapp and craft lager company Saint Lager are set to change their web addresses shortly.
Fry said: "The day of .uk is upon us. And team stephenfry.com -- as with all things -- is proud to be ahead of the curve, or at least cresting it. stephenfry.uk is launched today with a fanfare and an unfurling of the Union Flag."
Not-for-profit group Nominet is overseeing the transition, and said it expected high demand for the new suffix, citing 72% of 804 businesspeople in a survey last October saying they would like '.uk' as an option alongside '.co.uk'.
It will initially offer the suffix to more than 10 million current UK domain holders, who will have five years to decide whether to use it alongside or instead of their existing web address.
Chief operating officer Eleanor Bradley added: "The new .uk is for people who want a short, memorable domain with the popular and trusted .uk ending. We know this combination appeals to our tech-savvy, digitally-engaged population.
"The UK is the world's most internet-based major economy and it's certainly one of the most active and fast-changing too - 67% of our current registrations are less than five years old. We can't wait to deliver this addition to the UK namespace and continue to build its contribution to the UK's digital economy."
Nominet has unveiled a 10,000 sq/ft banner at London Heathrow airport that reads 'welcometothe.uk' to promote the new domain - the letters are 40% larger than the famous 'Hollywood' sign, according to the group.
The new suffix is available at a wholesale price equivalent to that for '.co.uk' - £5 for two years.
Research by the organisation suggested three-quarters of British internet users prefer sites ending in '.uk' when searching or buying online, with '.uk' preferred by 93% of the 1,000 respondents over other options.
Those include addresses like '.london', which businesses were invited to register for at the end of April, with the first sites set to feature the suffix in July.
Established in 1957, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, promotes wider social and economic progress through the advancement of information...