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Domain Name Industry

Through the process of registering for a domain name, you may have had exposure to some of the players in the domain name industry. A more in-depth understanding of the roles of these and other players within the domain name industry will help you be more informed and knowledgeable about managing your domain names.

The domain name ecosystem includes organizations, businesses, and individuals involved in the provision, support, and registration of domain names and related services. When you registered your domain name, you might have come across one or more of the following entities.

Registrars are companies that you can contact to register a domain name. The terms of your domain name registration, including fees, transfers, and renewals are governed by the Registration Agreement between you and your registrar. ICANN-accredited registrars have agreements with ICANN and registry operators to offer domain name registration services. Many registrars also offer other services such as web hosting, privacy/proxy, website builder, etc. There are over a thousand ICANN-accredited registrars throughout the world that provide support in local languages. A list of current ICANN-accredited registrars can be found here.

Resellers are companies affiliated with or are under contract with registrars to register domain names and offer other services provided by the registrars such as web hosting. Resellers are bound by their agreements with the registrar(s) and are not accredited by ICANN. The registrars remain the responsible and accountable party for all domain name registrations made by their resellers.

DNS hosts are companies that manage your domain's configuration (also known as DNS resource records). These configurations point your domain name to your website and email. Many registrars include DNS hosting service with domain name registrations.

Web hosting companies provide server storage space and an IP address for your website. With an IP address, your website can then be accessed from a web browser.

Privacy and proxy service providers enable the registration of a domain name without displaying your contact information in the Registration Data Directory Service. Privacy and proxy services are frequently offered by the registrar during the registration process but may also be obtained from a third-party service provider. ICANN org is currently implementing an accreditation program for privacy and proxy service providers, pursuant to policy recommendations developed through the multistakeholder policy development process.

Registries are organizations that are responsible for maintaining the records of domain names registered under each top-level domain (TLD). They also set the rules for registration under their TLDs. The responsibilities of the registries include accepting domain name registration requests from registrars, maintaining a database of the necessary registration data associated with domain names, and providing name servers to publish the zone file data (e.g., the list of all the domain names and their associated IP addresses) throughout the Internet. Registry operators have agreements with ICANN to operate generic top-level domains (gTLDs). A list of all gTLDs and their respective registry operators can be found here.

Click here to learn more about what domain names are, and what they are not.

This web page aggregates additional existing content across the icann.org website about the domain name system. If you have suggestions or would like to submit an inquiry, please contact ICANN organization's Global Support Center's Global Support Center.

Contractual compliance complaints can be submitted here.

What is a registrar?

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."