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Detailed instructions

If your WHOIS request returns a response that indicates a domain name is already registered or a response with an error message, you will also be provided with additional information as outlined below.

Domain name is already registered

If the domain name is already registered the response will include:

  • The domain name you were searching for
  • The name of the person or organisation (registrant) that registered the domain name and their trading name if this is different
  • The registrant’s address (unless they have opted out, in which case a message will let you know about the opt out)
  • The address for service (This is required for .uk domains where the main address is outside the UK)
  • The Data validation status of the domain name:
    • Registrant contact details validated by Nominet on dd/mm/yyyy
    • Registrant contact details validated by registrar on dd/mm/yyyy
    • Registrant contact details awaiting validation
  • The name of the company or agent that the domain name is registered with (registrar)
  • The date the domain was registered on, when it is due to expire and the date it was last renewed
  • The registration status of the domain name:
    • Registered until expiry date
    • Renewal required (for domains that have expired)
    • Registration not required (this is the status when the 'do not renew' option is selected and the domain name will automatically expire when it reaches its expiry date).
    • If a domain name has been suspended for any reason this will also be shown in the status section of the WHOIS output
  • The domain’s name servers (the names of the servers which host the domain)
  • The DNSSEC status – domains that have been digitally signed will be displayed as ‘signed’. Those that are not digitally signed will not have a DNSSEC status displayed in the WHOIS response.

.UK response showing rights

From 10 June 2014 and during the 5 year rights period, if a right exists for a .uk domain, the following output will be returned to show who has the right to the .uk domain name:

Domain name:
    <domain name>

Right of registration:
    <domain name>

Whois lookup made at<hh:mm:ss dd-mm-yyyy> -- <copyright text>

An error message

Error messages are normally returned on domain name searches that include:

  • Domain names with more than 256 characters and domain names with a part that exceeds 63 characters
  • Domain names that include a wrong character - .uk domain names may only use the characters A-Z, a-z, hyphen (-) and dot (.), or have a character in the wrong place (for example third level domains may not start or end with a hyphen)
  • A domain name with one or more parts that are zero characters in length
  • A domain name that contravenes our naming rules – the reason for the contravention will be included in the response
  • Domain names with too many or too few parts
  • Domain names that are not held on the Nominet registry such as .com domains or domains for example

An error message will also be given if there is a technical error that temporarily prevents access to the database.


As detailed in the WHOIS acceptable use policy, you may make a maximum of 1,000 queries during a 24 hour period with a maximum query rate of five queries per second. Once you have reached 1,000 queries, your next query will be blocked until the 24 hours has elapsed.

© Nominet UK 2015