Namers
Namecheap
There are currently 2499 ICANN accredited domain name registrars. This offers a lot of choice when picking a registrar. I present a checklist of considerations that might be included.

Last week’s article looked at the top-10 registrars in terms of domain names registered.

This week, I look at a number of the somewhat smaller registrars that are important to domain name investors, but did not make the top-10 list.

I also look at how to search for ICANN accredited registrars, as well as link the ICANN Registrar Agreement.

The Registrar Market

The economic scale of registrars depends mainly on the number of registered domain names. It is therefore interesting to see how experts view the years ahead. Last month Straits Research estimated that the global domain name registrar market will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 4.7%, and be worth $1025 billion USD by early 2027.

Most Registrations At Many Tiny Registrars

Last week’s article on the top-10 registrars in terms of domain names registered was dominated by GoDaddy.

The surprising thing, though, is the number of domain registrations scattered among the thousands of registrars that do not make the top-10 list. Over 73% of all domain name registrations are at registrars not on the top-10 list (see data at DomainNameStat.com).

Individually, any of these registrars have only a tiny slice of the overall market, but collectively they account for the majority. Many of those registrars are primarily web hosting and other services companies, that also are accredited registrars.

ICANN Accredited Registrars

ICANN provides accreditation to registrars for generic top level domains (gTLDs), both legacy and new extensions.

Each country has a system for accreditation of the country code TLDs. Many registrars are accredited both by ICANN and for a number of different country code extensions.

At time of writing, there are 2499 ICANN accredited registrars – see the list of ICANN Accredited Registrars at this link.

ICANN-accreditation carries an annual charge of $4000 to each registrar, in addition to the $0.18 per domain fee. There are also variable fees set by ICANN each year.

Each accredited registrar is assigned an IANA number. The historically first registrars generally have lower IANA numbers. For example, Network Solutions has an IANA number of 2. There are many gaps in the list for registrars no longer in operation.

You can search the ICANN Accredited Registrar list by name, IANA number or country.

ICANN accreditation means that the registrar agrees to follow rules and procedures set by ICANN. Here is the ICANN Registrar Accreditation Agreement.

As well as accredited registrars, there are resellers. Resellers offer the user similar registration services, but operate via one, or more, accredited registrars.

Smaller Registrars Popular Among Investors

While a number of the registrars listed in the top-10 registrars’ list, such as GoDaddy and NameCheap, are widely used by domain name investors, investors also use a number of smaller registrars.

I used the current NamePros favorite registrar poll and looked at any registrar with 10 or more votes, excluding those that were in last week’s article. Below are the number of domain names registered, at least according to DomainNameStat, at each of those registrars. I did not include Uniregistry, even though they had 10 or more votes, since they are in the process of being absorbed into GoDaddy.

Image-RegistrarsOther.png


Some registrars permit marketplace listings of domains registered elsewhere, so the domain names under management will, for some registrars, be higher than the number of domains registered.

I also looked up the founding date for each of these registrars.
  • Dynadot 2002
  • Epik 2009
  • Name.com 2003
  • NameBright 2011, part of TurnCommerce 2003
  • NameSilo 2010
  • Porkbun 2014
  • Sav 2019
In general, these smaller registrars were formed much later than almost all of the larger registrars considered last week. In some cases these registrars purchased other, older, registrars and their accreditations, so they do have roots older than the dates shown. Both Porkbun and Sav have grown rapidly in just a few years.

Registrar Checklist

While size, as measured by number of domain names registered. may be one consideration when selecting a registrar, there are many other, probably more important, factors. Below is a checklist of things you might want to consider when looking for a registrar. Not all of these will be important to all investors, and the relative importance will vary.
  1. Stability Do you have confidence the registrar will stay in business and thrive? Stability may encompass several factors such as time in operation, governance, size and profitability.
  2. Security This may include your assessment of the procedures at the registrar, as well as security options such as 2-factor authorization or notification of sign-in attempts.
  3. Price Most of the registrars popular among investors also have very competitive prices. You can compare pricing using tools such as TLDES, TLD-List and DomComp. Some registrars offer monthly or periodic discounts, while others offer savings such as the Bulk Discount at Dynadot, or the NameSilo Discount Program. The charge for the Discount Club membership at GoDaddy makes sense if you have a large portfolio there.
  4. Registrar Stream Agreements Afternic and Sedo have networks of registrars and marketplaces that will list fast-transfer domains from their marketplaces. Some registrars support the Afternic Premium Network while others support Sedo MLS, and a number of registrars support both. By getting into the registration stream, you enhance the opportunity to sell domain names. For more on these networks consult the fast-transfer section of Domain Investing: Just The Basics Part 2. Dynadot probably have the smoothest fast transfer authorization system. Rather than depending on emails, you activate it from within the control panel, and it clearly shows which domain names have fast transfer active. They also do not lock out the name following a domain transfer.
  5. Holds While newly-registered domain names need to honour the ICANN 60 day lock, locks associated with transfer of ownership vary with registrar. If you do rapid flips, this can be an important consideration.
  6. Features While many registrars offer almost the same set of features, there can be differences. Check if the registrar include free privacy, ability to set domain records, forwarding, etc.
  7. Expiry Handling The expiry process is not identical across registrars. Also, some registrars will allow you to unlock a domain name in expiry, and get the transfer code, while others will require you to renew before unlocking.
  8. Bulk Tools If you have many domain names to handle, bulk tools that make it easy to set DNS records or pointers will save you time.
  9. Registrar Marketplace Almost all of the registrars used by domain investors now have some sort of registrar marketplace. This can be a handy way to sell domain names, or to close a sale you negotiated elsewhere. The commission charges vary, from Sav at 4% to about 10% at a number of the registrars. Check also any constraints and fees for payouts. At GoDaddy you can readily list the domain name for sale on Afternic right from within your GoDaddy management screen.
  10. Landers Along with a marketplace, most registrars will provide some sort of lander, often with display options. Note that the secure space extensions will need a lander wth https. If you plan to make each domain lander its own small website, the flexible landers at Epik, allowing extensive formatted text, media and links to other pages, are attractive.
  11. Payment Plans A few of the registrar marketplaces also allow you to offer monthly payment plans. Of course, you can also offer this through Dan or Alter or some of the brandable places, but it is handy to have it right at the registrar marketplace. Epik offer the most customizable financing and rental options, but payment plans are also available for the registrar marketplaces at Dynadot and NameSilo, among others.
  12. Ease of Use While personal preferences vary, some of the registrar interfaces are simply more intuitive.
  13. Support If you run into problems, it is important that customer support be fast, easy and effective. Is it by telephone, email, chat, or all of the above? Does the registrar have a responsive presence here on NamePros?
  14. Analytics Some registrars provide additional information such as number of visits to your landers or whois queries on a name.
  15. Auctions While there are other places to hold domain auctions, including right here at NamePros, it is handy to be able to set up an auction at your registrar without up-front charges. You can do this with an inexpensive annual Auction Membership at GoDaddy, and without additional cost at Dynadot, NameSilo and Sav. Epik allow you to set up a ‘private’ auction that you can send the link to those interested in a domain name, or you can do public auctions with their NameLiquidate, an auction that hourly moves down in price over a 7 day period.
  16. Reputation In some cases the buyer of your domain name might take into account where the domain is currently registered. A larger, better-known registrar may help.
  17. Payment Options How can you pay for registrar services? If you wish to use cryptocurrencies, is that accepted? PayPal not being an option at Epik is an inconvenience.
  18. Clarity Can you readily see the expiry, lock status, renewal status, whether listed for sale at the registrar and price, the DNS pointers, and whether on the fast-transfer networks?
  19. Transfer Ease Is it easy and fast to unlock and get the authorization code? Can you approve transfer, or do you need to wait the full period? Is it easy to push a domain name to a different user at the registrar?
  20. Up-sell Registrars that are persistent in trying to sell you additional features and services can be bothersome, or occasionally you may end up with a service you did not intend.
  21. Output Some registrars make it easy to output in spreadsheet-compatible format a listing of your domain names. That can be a real time saver.
  22. Number of TLDs Each registrar will not handle all extensions, so if you are trying to minimize the number of registrars you deal with, that may be a consideration.
  23. Affiliate Programs If you really like a registrar, it makes sense to consider promoting them on your website or blog using an affiliate link. Most registrars have some sort of affiliate program.
  24. Other Dan will not transfer domain names registered at Sav, an important consideration if you use both.

A Few Suggestions

Here are a few personal comments about choosing a registrar.
  • Why choose just one? I see many advantages in regularly using multiple registrars. Don’t feel that all, or almost all, of your domain names need to be at the same registrar. Yes, it is more convenient to deal with only one or two registrars, though.
  • Transfer Deals One can save a little money on renewals through domain transfers, which often are cheaper during promotions. Whether this is worth the bother is something you need to decide. Keep in mind any fast-transfer agreements will need to be reset. If you regularly use multiple registrars, transfers can seem easier.
  • Probably Need Multiple Registrars Depending on how you acquire domain names, odds are you will need to have names at multiple registrars, at least for the period after transfer.
  • Try a few names first at a new registrar To really know a registrar, you need to use it for a few weeks or months. During that time you will see how easy it is to purchase, transfer, set DNS records, list, etc. If you are thinking of moving registrars, first try the new registrar out with a small number of domain names.
  • Stay Up-To-Date Things change almost constantly at the registrars, so make sure you follow updates. For example, Namecheap recently revamped their marketplace in a major way, as well as start auctioning their own expiring domains.
  • Read Domain Registrar Reviews There is a lively NamePros section Domain Registrar Reviews This includes official sections for many of the registrars used by NamePros members. It is a good place to learn about registrars and problems.

Registrar Case Study: Dynadot

Each of the last few years Dynadot has been at, or near, the top of the NamePros member polls for favourite registrar.

Todd Han, the Founder of Dynadot, held a NamePros Ask Me Anything in 2020. It includes his background and why he started Dynadot, how many employees they have, what he regards as his best and worst decisions, and much more. He shares information on growth and plans, and responds to a large number of suggestions from NamePros members. He even indicates what registrar he would use if Dynadot did not exist. Check out the full Ask Me Anything.

Todd summaries the Dynadot path to success in this reply.
Our team is the secret behind our success. As a knowledge based company, our entire business is inside the heads of our employees. We try to set up a company culture where everyone is treated fairly. And people are given room to grow and to make decisions. We have a pretty high employee retention rate. The very first employee I ever hired still works at Dynadot.
It is interesting that Todd himself is not a domain investor, even though he created a registrar which is attuned to investor needs.
 
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
biix
Top Bottom