Registry, registrar, registrant: The big domain glossary part 3

In the domain registration process, it’s important to understand what institutions and services are responsible for each task and at what stage of the process they should be implemented. In part three of this blog series we break down domain registration into simple steps and answer the question: at what point can a new domain officially be bought?

Domain name registry:

Also known as the network information centre (NIC), the domain name registry manages one or more top level domains within the domain name system. Its functions include operating the name servers, managing the name space and running the WHOIS servers. The domain allocation under a top level domain is made by registrars like 1&1 and not directly by the registries.


Registrars such as 1&1 operate as a mediator between the registration process and the end user; they are also the institution responsible for the billing of the domain. Registrars are often companies that simultaneously offer webhosting services; allowing users who are interested in a domain to purchase the perfect webhosting solution at the same time as registering their domain name.


This refers to a publicly open database which contains information about the owners of each domain, and who manages them administratively and technically. An entry in the whois database is obligatory for every registered domain. In order to protect sensible data from spam and misuse a lot of domain registrars offer a private domain registration.


Every company and every private person who purchases a domain from a registrar and registers it at a registry is called registrant (or reg-c). These domain owners can be identified via the whois database which is available at the respective registry.


The administrative contact (admin-c) is responsible for managing the domain. When registering private domains, the admin-c and registrant is often the same person. The admin-c has the same rights as the domain owner; they can make changes to the domain on their own. The admin-c is also considered as the legal contact and can be held responsible under certain circumstances; they also have to be mentioned as part of the Whois database.


This is the person responsible for the technical aspects of the domain administration and servers, their role is to act on behalf of the owner.

Sunrise phase:

This refers to the period of time in which new domains can only be registered by owners of registered trademarks. This helps prevent problems such as cybersquatting.


This process allows businesses to reserve a certain domain before it becomes freely available to the public. The process operates on a first come first served basis. 1&1 offers the opportunity for business to pre-order top level domains non-binding and free of charge. If your preferred domain name is unavailable, you will also have the option to be placed on a waiting list, in case your competitor decides against registering that particular name.

General availability:

The point where the domain becomes available to everybody and can be registered directly.

In the next instalment of this blog series, we will be helping you familiarise yourself with the most important institutions that relate to domains.

In the meantime, check out part 1 and 2 of our domain series, where we outline how a domain is built and the technology that lies behind it.

Category: Tips
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