A registrar is an organization responsible for reserving domain names and assigning unique IP addresses to these. You pay a monthly or yearly fee to register your desired website name so that no one else can use it. Trusted domain registrars are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private organization tasked to manage and allocate Domain Name System (DNS) resources.
If a domain name is like a home address, then a domain registrar is like the land registry office where we go to log our website (home) and claim it as our own.
Read More about a “Registrar”
While it is a domain registrar’s responsibility to reserve and assign IP addresses to domain name registrants, it does not have a direct hand at maintaining and managing domain names. That particular task falls under the jurisdiction of a domain name registry.
Registrar and Registry, What’s the Difference?
Often people get confused between an Internet registry and a domain registrar. Registries are organizations under the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a branch of the ICANN. These registries, more appropriately called “regional Internet registries (RIRs),” are in charge of managing the DNS. There are a limited number of them—only one per region. They are also responsible for delegating DNS resources (domain names and IP addresses) to registrars and Internet service providers (ISPs). In contrast, there are more than 900 domain registrars users can choose from today.
What do Registrars Do?
In general, a registrar acts as a middleman between an RIR and a registrant. A registrar is responsible for:
1. Leasing Domain Names
A registrar’s primary role is to provide registrants with the opportunity to use domain names to house their websites for a specified period. Registrants can reserve a domain name for up to 10 years and keep renewing the lease indefinitely. During that time, the registry maintains ownership of the domains, not the registrars nor the registrants.
2. Web Hosting
In a lot of cases, domain registrars also offer web hosting services to registrants. In this case, they help users set up their websites on the domains they are leasing. Note, however, that domain registrars are not required to offer such a service. Understand, too, that web hosting is different from managing domain names.
How to Become a Registrar
If you are thinking of putting up your own domain registrar, you need to obtain ICANN accreditation. Here is a step-by-step guide:
1. Check Your Eligibility
First, you need to know if you are eligible to become a registrar. You can check the qualification criteria detailed in the Statement of Registrar Accreditation Policy. You may also review the financial requirements of becoming an accredited registrar.
2. Apply for Accreditation
Once you’ve established your eligibility, you need to fill up the ICANN Registrar Accreditation Application form. You must submit it along with other required supporting documents.
3. Sign the Agreement
If your application for accreditation is approved, you need to accomplish the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, sign it, and pay the corresponding fee. The current term for certification is five years. Apart from the agreement, you also need to accomplish a Registrar Data Escrow (RDE).
Once you’ve accomplished the steps mentioned above, you can begin offering your services to domain name registrants.
Part of any registrar’s responsibility is to ensure that your services uphold user privacy while following the policies mandated by the ICANN.