A domain name registrar (DNS registrar) is a business that sells internet domain names and handles registration. Additionally, these companies assign IP addresses for the names they provide.
A DNS registrar must be certified by a high-level standard or country-code domain registry. A registrar must also operate according to the designated DN registry’s guidelines.
A common misunderstanding is that registrars sell the names; however, they own them, and users only lease them. Also, note that registrars do not maintain and manage domain names – the domain name registry carries out this function.
DNS Registrar vs. Registry
The terms sound similar, but registries are companies that manage top-level domains (TLDs) .com, and .net. Registries maintain records of which domains belong to whom, and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA of the global ICANN organization) oversee them.
Registries allocate sales of domain name registrations to end-users for registrars. For instance, if a registrar sells a .com domain registration to a ‘registrant’ (the customer), the registrar must notify and pay VeriSign – the .com domain registry.
On the other hand, a registrar is like a car dealership for domain names, while the registry is the manufacturer. The registrar helps with the transactions and offers support services, while the registry heads the production and delivery of the goods.
Another main difference between domain registration and buying a car is that consumers can own a vehicle but only lease a domain name. In other words, while people talk about ‘buying’ or ‘owning’ domain names, the registries own them, and registrars provide the opportunity to reserve the names for a maximum of ten years.
Nevertheless, registrars typically allow users to renew and thereby keep their names indefinitely.