Last updated: 2 May 2021

A domain name is an internet address. It is where people can go to visit your website or send you an email. For instance, if you want to visit us on the world wide web then you can open in your web browser. And, to send us an email you can use an email address that includes our domain, such as

Domain names are separate from hosting plans. A domain name is just a name you can use – no more, no less. To use a domain name for a website and/or email you also need a hosting plan. The hosting gives you space on a server for your website and email. The server also run specific software, such as a web and email server.

Types of domains

All domain names have an extension, such as .com or .uk. This suffix is known as the top-level domain (TLD). There are a two main types of TLDs:

  • Each country has its own TLD. This is known as the county-code top-level domain (ccTLD). Examples include .uk for the United Kingdom and .de for Germany. These domains are administered by national registries. For instance, .uk domains are managed by Nominet.
  • There are also generic top-level domains (gTLD). These include .com, .org as well as more fancy extensions, such as .coffee and .lol. The latter two gTLDs are examples of the many new TLDs introduced in recent years. These domains are overseen by ICANN.

Prices and rules

Different domains have different prices and rules. The cost of a domain is largely determined by the price the registry charges. Some of the new gTLDs are quite expensive. You can check the price for any domain via the register domain page.

For ccTLDs it is important to be aware that some registries have specific requirements. For instance, since Brexit UK nationals can no longer register or renew .eu domains. Also, different registries in the European Union have different rules for people who are not an EU citizen. Registries may also have specific technical requirements. For instance, the German registry (DENIC) requires that a domain’s name servers resolve to different IP addresses.

There are also different rules for transferring domains. For instance, when you buy or update a .com domain it is typically “locked” for 60 days. During that time you can’t transfer the domain to another registrar.

Domain registrars

Domain registries don’t sell domain names directly. Instead, they accredit domain registrars. Catalyst2 is one of many registrars – you can buy pretty much any domain name via us.

Our job as a registrar is to make sure that domains are registered in line with the registry’s guidelines and requirements.

WHOIS and privacy

When you buy a domain via us we make sure the domain is added to the WHOIS database. This database contains lots of information about domain names. The data includes the domain’s name servers as well as personal data, such as your name, postal address, email address and phone number.

You can manage the contact information via your billing account. It is important to keep these details up to date. The email address is particularly important, as the registry may contact you about your domain registration. For instance, when you transfer a domain to a different registrar you usually get an email from the registry asking you to confirm that you wish to transfer the domain. If you don’t have access to the email address associated with your domain then you won’t be able to complete the domain transfer.

Domain names and privacy

As said, the WHOIS database contains lots of personal information. The database is also publicly available. There are various websites that let you do a WHOIS search, and there is even a whois command line utility. Publishing all this data is an obvious privacy issue. It also used to be the source of lots of spam emails, as anyone could convert the database to a junk mail list. Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force all personal data is redacted. The information is still stored in the database, but the general public can no longer see any personal information.

When you buy a domain name there is an option to opt out of having your personal detail published. This option is no longer relevant now that all personal data is redacted.