If a person decides to register a domain name, he cannot do so by himself. He needs to take the help of a registrar.
A Domain Name Registrar is an organization that enables a person to register a domain and acts on behalf of the consumer to help him acquire it. The registrar is given the authority by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) or by a country’s national authority to do so. This involves a lot of functions. The registrar needs to check if the name is available in the first place and is not registered to someone else. The Registrar should make sure that all the information of the registrant is collected and submitted to ICANN. It also allows the transfer of the domain between two registrants. The registrar also helps people to protect their contact details from spammers by either offering proxy or third party registration services.
All the people who register domains with a registrar make their contact details available on the Internet through the WHOIS database. A simple WHOIS search will give out these details unless some privacy settings have been put by the registrar. A registrar will let you ‘lock’ your name. This does not allow any changes to be made to the registration information unless the domain is unlocked.
One needs to pay the registrar for the registration services as well as for ICANN. ICANN charges the registrar an administration fee for every registered name. The registration fee is calculated based on two aspects: The services of the registrar and the registration tenure. The longest period for which a name can be registered is 10 years. However, the registrant can renew the registration after the span of 10 years. A lot of registrars provide discounts if you buy domain names in bulk.
Till 1999, all the.com,.org and.net domains were registered only by a company called Network Solutions because of an agreement they had with the US Dept of Commerce. Since then, there have been many registrars that provide domain registration services.
One must be careful of registrants who acquire names by wrong methods. Some of the tactics used are sending out notifications via email, fax or letters of the domains expiring if the recommended course of action is not taken. Hence, one must be careful and only contact or look for reliable registrars.