What Is a Domain Registrar? Everything You Need to Know

A domain registrar is a company that allows you to register and manage internet domain names, like www.example.com. Domain registrars serve as a link between users and domain name registries, helping people to claim and control website addresses for their projects.

In this guide, we will help you understand what a domain name registrar is. You’ll also learn about how to choose the right domain registrar and even how to become one.

Takeaways
  • You can control your website’s settings, like linking your domain to your website’s server, through your registrar
  • Choosing a reliable registrar is important to avoid technical issues and security risks
  • Registrars should provide customer support to help you with your domain-related issues.
  • Some registrars also offer web hosting, email hosting, and SSL certificates
  • To choose the right domain registrar, consider pricing, transfer policies, and additional services offered

What Is a Domain Name Registrar?

A domain name registrar acts as a bridge between the people who want to own a domain name and the global Domain Name System (DNS), which translates easy-to-read domain names into IP addresses.

Domain registrars offer various services, including registering domain names, maintaining WHOIS databases with contact information, and providing additional offerings like web and email hosting.

Why Do You Need a Domain Registrar?

Registrars are responsible for important roles online, such as:

  • Registration Services—Registrars allow users to search for available domain names and, after payment, register them for a specified period (typically one year or more). They keep databases of registered domain names.
  • DNS Management—Users can use registrars to manage their DNS settings. This includes associating domain names with specific IP addresses, creating subdomains, and managing DNS records like MX (Mail Exchanger) and CNAME (Canonical Name) records.
  • Renewals and Transfers—Domain owners can renew their registrations and transfer domains between different registrars with the help of registrars. This helps to maintain ownership of the domain.
  • WHOIS Data—Website information managers maintain WHOIS databases, which keep contact information to ensure honesty and transparency in the website industry.

Does It Matter Who Your Domain Registrar Is?

Legally, any ICANN-accredited registrar can sell you a domain name, but the choice of your domain registrar is relevant because their TLD options (such as .com, .co, .net), domain services, and their quality can differ.

Carefully choosing a reliable domain registrar is also important to avoid technical problems, security risks, and issues with transferring your domain. Some registrars may offer additional services like web hosting or SSL certificates that can affect your online experience and make it matter who your domain registrar is.

What Is the Difference between a Domain Registrar and a Registry?

Registry is the organization in charge of managing top-level domain extensions like .com, .org, and .net.

They are responsible for keeping the master database for specific extensions and controlling all domain names under that extension.

Domain registrars work with registries to help people register and update their domains. They act as intermediaries between users and the central domain database.

What Is the Difference between a DNS Server and a Domain Registrar?

DNS servers and domain registrars serve distinct roles in managing internet domains.

A DNS server is a network service that translates readable domain names into IP addresses.

This allows web browsers to locate websites on the internet.

The main difference between a DNS server and a domain registrar is that a DNS server translates domain names into IP addresses, while a registrar helps people register and update their domains.

What Does a Domain Registrar Do?

Domain registrars help acquire and maintain domain names. Here are the key functions of domain registrars:

  • Domain Name Sales — They sell domain names, letting users search and buy them, usually for a year, and renew if needed.
  • DNS Management — They offer tools and interfaces for users to control DNS settings, like linking domain names to IP addresses, making subdomains, and handling different DNS records.
  • WHOIS Privacy Protection — They often offer WHOIS privacy protection to hide users’ personal info. Instead of showing the owner’s details, they display the registrar’s info, making user data more private and secure.
  • Domain Renewals — They remind you to renew your domain to keep it active and make sure the process goes smoothly.
  • Domain Transfers — They help you move your domain to someone else or another registrar, following the rules set by domain authorities.
  • Security Measures — They use security methods like two-factor authentication and encryption to protect your information from hackers.
  • Technical Support — They provide customer service to help you with any domain issues or questions you might have, making sure you have a good experience.

Finally, domain registrars offer essential services that allow businesses to register domain names, manage DNS, protect privacy, ensure security, and provide website support.

How Domain Registration Works

Domain registration is a vital step in going online, overseen by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Here is how the process works:

  1. ICANN Oversight: ICANN is a worldwide organization that oversees internet domain systems, establishing rules and safeguarding internet stability and security.
  2. Choosing a Domain Registrar: To register a domain, you must choose a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy or Namecheap. These registrars act as intermediaries between users and ICANN, facilitating the registration process.
  3. Search and Registration: Users search for an available domain name with their chosen registrar and, after finding one, submit a registration request along with their contact information.
  4. Verification: Registrars validate registration requests to ensure compliance with ICANN rules, preventing fraudulent registrations and domain name misuse.
  5. DNS Configuration: Users configure DNS settings through their registrar, linking domains to IP addresses, setting up subdomains, and managing DNS records such as MX or CNAME records.
  6. Ownership and Renewal: After registering, the user owns the domain usually for one year and needs to renew it regularly to keep ownership.
  7. WHOIS Data: Registrars keep WHOIS databases to provide transparency and accountability by storing details about domain registrants.

In short, ICANN oversees the regulated process of domain registration, with registrars handling domain name registration, management, and ownership for users.

Domain Registrar Examples & Comparison

Here are some of the biggest and most popular domain registrar examples, so you can compare which one is the best one for your website:

1. Hostinger

Features: Domain registration, web hosting, free domain with hosting, business email, SSL certificate, and website builder.

Pros
  • Free domain
  • Business growth tools
  • Fast WordPress hosting
  • Expert support
Cons
  • No cPanel
  • No telephone support
  • Nonstandard refund terms

Read a full Hostinger review

Hostinger
Boost your website's performance with Hostinger's ultra-fast hosting solutions at unbeatable price. Offering everything from Shared, Managed WordPress, Managed WooCommerce, Cloud, VPS to Game Server Hosting, Hostinger ensures maximum uptime and premium security.
Visit Hostinger

2. GoDaddy

Features: Domain registration, hosting, website builder, email marketing, and more.

Pros
  • Wide variety of domain extensions
  • Competitive pricing
  • Premium Domain Club membership
  • Powerful domain management interface
Cons
  • No free site transfer
  • High renewal rates

Read a full GoDaddy review

GoDaddy
GoDaddy stands as a global web hosting titan. Offering a comprehensive suite from domains to tailored hosting solutions, they're trusted by millions worldwide. Ensure a seamless online presence with GoDaddy's unmatched reliability and innovation.
Visit GoDaddy

3. Namecheap

Features: Domain registration, free WHOIS privacy protection, premium DNS, and domain management tools.

Pros
  • Powerful domain search tool
  • Free WHOIS privacy
  • Cost-effective pricing
  • Clean domain management area
Cons
  • No phone support
  • Lack of data centers
  • Low storage for basic plans
  • Renewal costs jump significantly

Read a full Namecheap review

Namecheap
Namecheap offers versatile hosting solutions with an intuitive interface and premium features such as automatic backups and free email accounts. With access to numerous single-click apps and award-winning customer service, Namecheap ensures a seamless, user-friendly experience.
Visit Namecheap

4. Bluehost

Features: Features: Web hosting, domain registration, free SSL certificate, and more.

Pros
  • Official WordPress hosting partner
  • Free domain with hosting
  • User-friendly interface
  • Renowned customer support
Cons
  • Renewal rates skyrocket
  • Not all plans include daily backups
  • No month-to-month plans

Read a full Bluehost review

Bluehost
In the dynamic web hosting sector, BlueHost shines. Their WordPress-centric, open-source philosophy offers adaptability and performance. BlueHost provides adaptability and ease for beginners and specialists in shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting.
Visit Bluehost

5. Domain.com

Features: Domain registration, hosting, domain management tools, and more.

Pros
  • Offers a wide range of domain extensions
  • Premium domain search
  • User-friendly interface
  • Additional web services
Cons
  • Domain name privacy costs an extra $8.99 per year
  • Pricing nearly doubles upon renewal
  • Does not offer VPS or dedicated web hosting
  • Does not have a one-click WordPress installation like most web hosts

Read a full domain.com review

Who Is the Most Used Domain Registrar?

GoDaddy has been considered the most popular global domain registrar, known for its wide range of domains, strong marketing, and user-friendly interface, which contributed to its significant market presence and large customer base.

Who Is the Safest Domain Registrar?

Google Domains is highly regarded for its strong security measures, including free WHOIS privacy and 2-step verification, making it a secure option for domain registration.

Its reputation for cybersecurity and reliable infrastructure adds to its perceived safety, giving users peace of mind about online security.

Who Is the Cheapest Domain Registrar?

Namecheap is often recognized as the cheapest domain registrar.

They provide competitive prices and frequently offer discounts and promotions, making them a budget-friendly choice for domain registrations.

How to Choose the Right Domain Registrar

Selecting the correct domain registrar is essential when establishing your online presence.

Your decision should consider factors like pricing, registration duration, domain transfers, expiration policies, and additional services. Here it is what you should think about in each of these points:

  • Pricing and Registration Period: When registering a domain, compare prices from different registrars, considering both initial and renewal fees for long-term cost planning. Look out for promotions, especially during the first year, to lower the initial expenses.
  • Domain Transfers: When choosing a registrar, check for transparent domain transfer policies, and ask about any potential future transfer restrictions or fees. Choose the one that saves you money and time in the transfer process.
  • Domain Expiration Policies: Be aware if they offer any grace period for renewing your domain without losing ownership, and the redemption period, which follows the grace period and allows you to reclaim an expired domain at a higher cost. Also, consider opting for auto-renewal with the registrar to prevent accidental domain expiration.
  • Add-On services: When choosing a registrar, consider add-on services such as WHOIS privacy protection, DNS management tools, and the quality of customer support. You might also explore registrars offering a suite of services like web hosting, email hosting, SSL certificates, and website builders to simplify management.

In the end, the best domain registrar for you will be complete in every topic listed. However, you can pick a specific registrar based on which of these aspects is more important for you.

To make the right choice, carefully evaluate these factors, read user feedback, and investigate the registrar’s track record and trustworthiness.

By considering these aspects, you can make a good decision and choose a domain registrar that suits your online objectives.

How to Find Domain Registrar of Your Domain

To find the domain registrar of your existing domain, follow these steps:

StepDescription
Check your domain recordsReview your domain management dashboard or the account where you registered your domain. Check emails and documentation related to your domain registration.
Use WHOIS lookupUtilize WHOIS lookup tools on various websites by entering your domain name to find registrar details. Common websites include ICANN’s official tool and registrar’s sites.
Contact your Web Hosting providerIf your website is hosted by a specific provider, they might also be your domain registrar. Check your hosting account or contact their support to confirm domain management.
Use Domain Registrar Lookup ServicesSome third-party websites offer domain registrar lookup services. Enter your domain name on these sites to retrieve registrar information.
Check DNS RecordsExamine your domain’s DNS records, particularly TXT or MX records, as they may contain registrar-related information.
Contact Customer SupportIf you still can’t determine your registrar, reach out to ICANN’s customer support or the domain registrar’s customer service for assistance based on your domain name.

By following these steps, you can easily find out which registrar your domain is registered with, making it easier to manage your domain.

Domain Registrar Lookup Tools

Several online tools can help you look up domain registrar information:

  1. ICANN WHOIS: ICANN provides a WHOIS lookup tool to find domain registrar information.
  2. WHOIS.com: WHOIS.com provides an easy way to look up domain registrar information.
  3. DomainTools: DomainTools offers domain research and lookup tools, including registrar information.
  4. GoDaddy WHOIS Lookup: GoDaddy offers its own WHOIS lookup tool to find domain registrar information.
  5. Namecheap WHOIS: Namecheap offers a WHOIS lookup tool for domain registrar searches.

How to Become a Domain Registrar

Becoming a domain registrar is tough due to strict regulations. Here’s a simple outline of the steps:

  1. Legal and Regulatory Compliance—Make sure your business follows all the laws and regulations in your area, which might involve registering your company, obtaining necessary licenses, and gaining an understanding of industry rules.
  2. Business Planning—Create a detailed business plan outlining your business model, target audience, pricing strategy, marketing plan, niche, and unique selling points.
  3. Technical Infrastructure—Create the needed tech setup, like servers, DNS, and security, following ICANN’s rules.
  4. ICANN Accreditation (for gTLDs)—To offer domains like .com or .org, get ICANN approval. You must meet strict requirements like financial stability, technical skills, and following ICANN rules.
  5. ccTLD Agreements—If you intend to offer country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs), make agreements with the specific domain registries, each with its own unique rules.
  6. Technical Integration—Implement domain registration and management systems. You can develop your own or use existing domain registrar software.
  7. Security and Compliance—Make data safe and comply with data protection regulations while implementing secure payment processing and data encryption.
  8. Marketing and Branding—Create a marketing strategy that includes website design, branding, and digital channels to establish your strong online presence and attract customers.
  9. Customer Support—It is important to have dependable customer support channels in place to aid customers with their domain registrations, transfers, and any inquiries they may have.
  10. Launch and Expansion—Start your domain registrar business and focus on growing your domain portfolio and customer base consistently.

To get the most reliable information on becoming a domain registrar, it’s best to consult trustworthy sources and experts in the field.

Final Word

As a domain owner, your online presence is more than just a digital address.

Take the time to define your goals, understand your target audience, and make informed choices when it comes to selecting a domain registrar. A good choice of domain registrar can have a profound impact on your online results.

Without a doubt, choosing the right domain registrar is important. It serves as a structural point of your online strategy, ensuring that your domain registration experience will impress your potential visitors and improve your online visibility.

If upgrading your website is a priority this year, our curated list of the Best Website Builders is a must. Use this knowledge to provide a great experience and take advantage of your great domain registrar. Apply it!

Next Steps: What Now?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a reasonable price for a domain registrar?

The cost of a domain registrar, on average, costs between $10 to $50 per year. However, premium domains or specialized extensions may cost significantly more.

Are All Domain Registrars the Same?

No, not all domain registrars are the same. While they all facilitate domain registration, they can differ in terms of pricing, customer support, additional services, user interface, and domain management tools.

It’s important to choose a registrar that aligns with your specific needs and preferences.

Can I buy a domain name forever (permanently)?

No, you cannot buy a domain name forever or permanently. Domain names are typically registered for a specified period, such as one year or more.

You need to renew your domain plan regularly to maintain ownership.

Failure to renew can result in the domain becoming available for others to register.

Why is domain renewal more expensive?

Domain renewal can be more expensive than the initial registration due to several factors. Registrars often offer promotional rates to attract new customers but charge regular prices for renewals. Additionally, registry fees, administrative costs, and the competitive market can contribute to the higher cost of renewing a domain name.

Can I use multiple domain registrars?

Yes, you can use multiple domain registrars simultaneously.

Many website owners choose this approach for various reasons, such as managing different domains with specialized registrars or taking advantage of specific registrar services or pricing.

However, it requires careful management of each domain account and may complicate administration.

Email Marketing vs. Social Media: Which is More Effective?

What is Email Marketing? Email marketing is a  that involves companies reaching out to potential and existing customers via email ...
10 min read
Ela Gal-Kfir
Ela Gal-Kfir
Digital Marketing Specialist

Email Engagement Metrics, Calculation & Best Practices

Email engagement tells us how interested recipients are in the content of emails they receive. It provides insights into what types of em...
12 min read
Ela Gal-Kfir
Ela Gal-Kfir
Digital Marketing Specialist

Email Cadence: What Is It & How To Optimize It Right

Email cadence guides you when and how often you should reach out to your customers. Think of it as your personal plan that helps you decide wh...
15 min read
Ela Gal-Kfir
Ela Gal-Kfir
Digital Marketing Specialist

Co-Marketing: What It Is, How to Start & Benefits for Your Business

When it comes to modern business strategies, co-marketing is a smart move for businesses. It means two or more companies work together, sharin...
10 min read
Kaitlin Culmo
Kaitlin Culmo
Hosting Expert
HostAdvice.com provides professional web hosting reviews fully independent of any other entity. Our reviews are unbiased, honest, and apply the same evaluation standards to all those reviewed. While monetary compensation is received from a few of the companies listed on this site, compensation of services and products have no influence on the direction or conclusions of our reviews. Nor does the compensation influence our rankings for certain host companies. This compensation covers account purchasing costs, testing costs and royalties paid to reviewers.
Click to go to the top of the page
Go To Top