If you want to have an email address with [email protected] or a website address you are going to need a domain name.


Though there are a lot of technical things that happen behind the scenes with domain name registration and management, the actual process of registering a New Zealand domain name is very straight forward. Essentially, if you can complete a form online and have a credit card, you can purchase a domain name.

Though the process is quite straightforward there are a few things you need to be aware of. These are things that I keep coming across in my day to day working life as a web designer in New Zealand.

Here’s what you should be aware of about NZ domain names:

  1. Domain name registration costs can vary greatly between domain name registrars and large Internet Providers or telcos. For instance, I often discover clients are paying their telecommunications company $20 a month for a domain name registration, and on top of the that they are also paying for web hosting and email accounts. Yet, at most domain name registration websites, you can register a domain name for less than $30 a year.
  2. You need to renew your domain name every year if you wish to keep using it. It you forget to renew your domain name your website will go offline. The website will still be ‘hosted’ but will not be reachable via the domain name. Once the domain name is renewed your website will be accessible via the domain name.
  3. All is not lost if you forget to renew your domain name – it will be in a holding pattern for up to 3 months, so you can renew it. If you do not renew after three months is up, anyone can then go and register the domain name you were using.
  4. When you register a domain name in New Zealand, your contact details will be publicly visible in the ‘whois’ database of domain names. So anyone who knows how to look up a domain record can find your postal address, phone number and email address.
  5. Moving a domain name to a different domain name registrar is quite an easy process and most domain registrars have a form online where you can start the transfer.  You simply need the UDAI of your domain name to move to a different registrar. Your UDAI is an authentication key and it’s important that you are given the UDAI when you register your domain name or if someone registers the domain name on your behalf.
  6. When your domain name is moved to a new registrar the domain name ‘zone records’ move with it. So if you are using another company for your email and have specified what is called an MX record for your email, the MX record will not change if you move to a different registrar, nor with the ‘A’ record of your domain name (which affects the hosting).
  7. If you get a 3rd party to register your domain name on your behalf (a web designer for instance), just double check that you are listed as the registrant of the domain name. I’ve often come across web companies registering their clients domain names in their own names – so that the web company is the registrant. This goes against the official advice provided by the Domain Name Commission which states anyone reselling a domain name as a service must ensure the client is the registrant. See http://dnc.org.nz/content/Final_Reseller.pdf.
  8. If you discover you are not the registrant of your own domain name and your web company is, you will need to complete a change of registrant document with the registrar of your domain name that will need to be signed by the existing registrant.
  9. Even if you are a registrant of your domain name, but your web company registered it for you, you may find that your domain name is registered under their domain account. This isn’t always a problem, but if you do need various records to be updated, you will most likely incur a fee for the company to do this for you. If your domain name is registered under your own account at a registrar you can then give others access to the account (for example an IT firm that needs to set up email records).
  10. You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket – even if your domain name is with one company, you do not need to get email with them or host your website with them. These services can all be split up between other providers and the domain records can be updated to reflect this.

I hope this little guide has been helpful. If you need any assistance or have any enquiries please get in touch.

You may also like to read my blog post Beware the extra ‘DNS’ management fee with some domain name registries.

 

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