New bilingual addresses are expected to benefit local businesses, while promoting Welsh language and culture
Next year, all government websites in Wales will be replacing ‘.gov.uk’ with ‘.wales’ and ‘.cymru’, taking advantage of the new country-code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) introduced by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The initiative was announced by the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones at the 50th meeting of the ICANN in London, the largest in organisation’s history.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Wales to have a distinct presence on the web and I am pleased that we have been able to join other high-profile organisations in leading the way with the switch to .wales and .cymru,” said Jones.
“This provides us with an opportunity to set Wales apart online and promote the unique benefits of our country, both economically and culturally. By securing bilingual domain names we are also able to promote and encourage the use of the Welsh language online.”
What’s in a name?
The new Welsh ccTLDs will come online in September, following the launch of ‘.uk’ on 10 June.
The change comes as ICANN is rolling out more than a thousand new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), including those in non-Latin scripts. London is set to become one of the first cities in the world to launch its own city domain name – ‘.london’.
Classical Brit Award winners and Britain’s favourite choir, Only Men Aloud, pledged to become the first to adopt the new ‘.wales’ and ‘.cymru’ addresses. Earlier this month, media personality Stephen Fry became the first Brit to register a ‘.uk’ address.
The new gTLDs will be managed by Nominet, the non-profit registry which already runs the ‘.co.uk’ and now the ‘.uk’ domains.
“The Welsh Government has warmly endorsed .cymru and .wales right from the start and we are delighted that they have committed to making the switch,” commented Rennie Fritchie, chair of Nominet. “This move is a fitting celebration of the beginning of an online space that is truly Welsh.”
The registry advises trademark holders to act immediately in order to secure the relevant domain names, by submitting them to the Trademark Clearing House before the end of July. If business owners operating in Wales don’t have a trademark but need to secure a domain name that matches their area of interest, there’s a further opportunity to do that too.
Wales is not the only part of the Union to get its own gTLD. Scottish residents and businesses will be able to register Internet addresses ending in ‘.scot’ as early as July, following a deal between ICANN and the non-profit Dot Scot Registry.
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