Domain names – what are they and how do they work?

What is a domain name?

A domain name is a unique name that can be used to identify and access your website on the Internet. It is also used as your email address – the text to the right of the @ sign. A domain name is a lot like a street address for a house or business – it represents a physical point on the Internet.

How do domains work?

When visitors enter your domain name into a web browser, the browser request uses your domain name to find the domain name’s associated IP address and, therefore, the website. People use domain names instead of IP addresses because it is easier to remember a name rather than a series of numbers. Your domain name and its associated IP address are stored in a common database along with every other domain and associated IP address that are accessible via the Internet.

Who can register a domain name?

Anyone over the age of 18, or a registered company can register a domain name. Some domain extension have specific criteria.

What characters can a domain name contain?

Domain names may only contain lowercase a-z, 0-9, and the – (hyphen) character. A hyphen may not begin or end a domain name. Domain names can be up to 63 characters long, excluding the extensions. Domain names should be in lowercase, but are not case-sensitive.

How long will it be before my domain name shows up on the internet?

For all .nz domains, generic (gTLD) domains (.com, .org, .net, .biz, .info, .us) and some ccTLD domain names (.ca, .tw, .jp, .in, .cn, .co.uk), registration is instantaneous. Other domains can take a few hours to a few days to register, depending on the complexity and what supporting documentation is required. New domains and changes to domains can take up to two days to become effective because of the number of networks involved, and the fact that those networks are controlled by several different agencies. It has to do with the way domains work and is unfortunately unavoidable.

Please allow for this delay when planning websites or configuring a domain to work with your email. For a .nz domain name, the name may only take a few minutes or hours to propagate through and be available for use.

Who is the owner of a domain name?

A domain name is not actually owned but rather it is licensed for use for the duration of the registration period. The legal owner of a domain name is the individual or organisation whose name is listed as the Registrant Contact. These contact details are made publically available in a public “whois” database which is provided by registrars and/or the registry for the domain.

Can I register more than one domain name for my website?

Yes. When you register multiple domain names, you can keep your competition from registering a similar domain name, provide customers with more ways to find you when searching the Internet, capture common misspellings of your domain name, and protect your brand and online identity. Please note that registering multiple domains does not improve your site’s search results.

What is a UDAI, EPP or Authorisation Code?

A UDAI (Unique Domain Authentication ID), as well as an EPP or Authorisation Code, is a randomly generated code consisting of numbers and letters in upper and lower case. A UDAI is unique to each .nz domain name and is required to authenticate requests to transfer a domain from one registrar to another. When a new UDAI is generated, it can ONLY be sent to the email address listed in the Registrant Contact details for the domain name. Like the UDAI, the EPP and Authorisation Code is a password for a domain name. It is a security measure, ensuring that only the domain name owner can transfer a domain name.

What happens to a domain when it expires?

When a domain expires it becomes inactive immediately, and all the services attached to it, such as a website and/or email cease to function.

Usually, a domain name is not available for re-registration as soon as it expires. Most registrars allow a grace period that can be as short as one or two weeks or as long as a year for registrants to renew expired domain names. The actual grace period can be different for each individual registrar and domain name extension.

With .co.nz, .org.nz, .net.nz and .nz domains the domain will go into a Pending Release status (deactivated) for 90 days. The domain will be available for reactivation during the period by the original owner. If the domain is not reactivated within this period it will be deleted from the registry and released back into the ‘pool’ for anyone to purchase as a new domain.


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