Domain name registry Nominet today announced plans to begin charging customers for domain name transfers to another person or organisation.

From 19 May transfers will cost £30 plus VAT. Until now the service has been free.

The non-profitmaking registry claims the charges reflect the cost of the transfer and checking process. The service will be available online from the end of the year, majing it more readily available to domain owners, but also making it more costly for the company.

"We wanted a separate charge for transfer, rather than including this in the 'blanket fees'," said a Nominet spokeswoman. "We thought this was a fairer way of doing things, so that the people who use the service pay for it."

But Nominet did not think the new charge would reduce so-called 'blanket prices'. Instead, it said it was more likely that "they would not go up".

"We take a lot of care to make sure that domain names are not transferred in error," said Lesley Cowley, managing director of Nominet UK. "While this process creates additional work for Nominet, it is essential to preserve the integrity of the system and the accuracy of the register database."

Transfer applications can be received by email at [email protected].