New Canadian Internet Agency now handles .ca registrations

Author: Nola Young

The Scenario:

 Internet addresses have become the subject of great controversy. Known as domain names, they are highly-valued commodities. The Internet has become a dog-eat-dog world of companies registering and buying domains, at any cost, to eliminate the competition. If you are considering establishing an online presence, with your own domain name, it is necessary first to understand the registration process.

The Question:

 How do you register a domain name?

The Answer:

 Before registering a domain name, it is important to know what domain names are and why they were created. An Internet address consists of two parts: the domain name (www.company, for example) plus a two- or three-letter suffix known as a top-level domain (.com, for example).

Technically speaking, computers don’t actually understand domain names. Domains were created for humans. They are familiar, and easy-to-remember, names used instead of difficult-to-remember Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers.

An IP address is a grouping of four numbers, ranging from 0 – 255, separated by periods. It’s not easy to remember a bunch of numbers and that’s why domain names were invented. (When you type in an address, your computer checks a domain name server to find the IP address for that site. Your computer then accesses the site by using the IP address.)

A top-level domain (TLD) is used to designate the type of organization behind the site or the country of origin. Generic top-level designators (gTLDs) are commonly three-letter suffixes like .com which refer to Commercial organizations, or .net for Network organizations. Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) usually consist of two- letter suffixes like .ca for Canada, as assigned by the United Nations.

Registering your domain name is easy. The difficult part is finding a name to register. Don’t set your heart on a .com name. Quite likely, the domain name you want most won’t be available in .com but you might be able to use it under another top-level domain. For example, your choice might be available as a Canadian .ca top-level domain because it is more open than the .com top-level domain.

Registering your domain, and keeping it current, is a good idea. Unless you do this, someone else may succeed in taking it for their own use or perhaps a domain “scalper” who may try to sell it back to you at a price higher than the registration fee.

An organization called Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) recently took over the responsibility for .ca registration from the University of British Columbia. Names are now registered and activated directly into CIRA’s system, which has reduced the registration turnaround time.

Registering a .ca domain is quite simple. First, you must retain a certified registrar. A list of certified registrars exists on the CIRA Web site (www.cira.ca). The registrar, will then submit a registration request to CIRA. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis and accepted only if they are admissible domain names in accordance with CIRA’s registration rules.

A domain name may be registered for a period of one to 10 years. Registrars are free to set their own fee structure.

It’s also important to conduct a domain search. CIRA maintains a “WHOIS” look-up system, on its site, where applicants and registrars can query the .ca database to determine if a specific domain name is available. This service is provided for free.

Location has often been described as the key factor in having a successful business. Having a good domain name can be the equivalent to obtaining a great location. Both are equally difficult to find, but in both cases are worth the process involved.


Nola Young is the president of KW Digital Solutions. Send your comments or questions by email or call 519-741-7641.