Owners of dormant .uk domain names have just three months to contact their ISP or face losing their suffix altogether.

In order to clean up unused sites and make space for new domain names, UK registrar Nominet today warned owners of UK sites, registered prior to 1 August 1996, to contact their ISP to confirm they still want those URLs.

"We suspect many of the domain names are not being used and may well no longer be required," said Lesley Cowley, Nominet's UK managing director. "However, for those that are, we need to ensure that all the details are correct and give the registrant a proper contract."

Domain name owners have three months to contact their ISP before their name is pulled.

Unlike other domain name owners, pre-1996 registrants simply received suffixes from the Naming Committee and did not have to pay for them.

This means they have no contract with registrar Nominet, which did not even exist before 1996, and therefore no legal protection for their URLs.

But those owners wishing to keep their names will now have to pay Nominet standard charges — £5 per year for Nominet members rising to a whopping £80 a year for non-members. However, as a 'goodwill gesture' owners will not be charged for the first two years.

"Our aim is to clean up our records at the same time as giving those who are using their domain names equality with other .uk registrants," continues Cowley.

Nominet is contacting ISPs, domain name registrants' agents, and each name owner to notify them of the deadline.

There are around 26,000 of these names registered before Nominet came into existence, but Nominet does not know at this stage which names are redundant.

For more information call Nominet on 01865 332 211 or visit the pre-Nominet section of the registrar's site.