Registration and use of domains at ccTLD registry

Registry

Which entity is responsible for registration of domain names in the country code top-level domain (ccTLD)?

DNS Belgium is the registry for the .be ccTLD. DNS Belgium also became the operator of the .brussels and .vlaanderen gTLDs.

Method

How are domain names registered?

Domain names are registered through a .be-accredited registrar or reseller of an accredited registrar. A list of accredited registrars is available at www.dns.be.

Duration

For how long is registration effective?

The registration is effective for a renewable term of one year.

Cost

What is the cost of registration?

DNS Belgium charges €4 (excluding VAT) for each of the following transactions made by an accredited registrar:

  • the registration of a new .be domain name; and
  • the yearly renewal of a .be domain name.

Additional charges are due if a domain name is in quarantine (ie, a maximum period of 40 days during which the domain name is deactivated by the registrant or the registrar, but during which it is not available for registration by a third party without the registrant’s consent). DNS Belgium charges €10 (excluding VAT) for the reactivation of such domain names.

Total registration costs depend on the registrar, who is free to determine their price in return for the services offered.

Transfer

Are registered domain names transferable? If so, how? Can the use of a domain name be licensed?

Domain names in the .be ccTLD can be transferred. This can be done on the basis of a mutual agreement with the existing domain name holder (registrant) or following a court order or a decision by a panel of the Belgian Centre for Arbitration and Mediation (CEPANI), the competent ADR provider.

A transfer requires the transfer code, which will always be communicated through the incumbent domain name holder (registrant). The new registrant must accept the terms and conditions for registration of the .be domain name and pass on the transfer code to an accredited registrar. The registrar can then set up a name server and submit the transfer request to DNS Belgium to have the transfer executed.

DNS Belgium charges €4 (excluding VAT) for each transfer of an individual domain name to another accredited registrar. Upon completion of the transfer, the domain name will be registered for one year, after which a renewal fee will be due. To enhance the security of a domain name registration, the registrant can block the domain name for voluntary transfer or any other change in the configuration of the domain name upon activation of the Domain Guard service. The Domain Guard service may be temporarily suspended four times a year to give the registrant the opportunity to transfer the domain name or change the configuration (eg, to implement a change of hosting provider). DNS Belgium charges €80 (excluding VAT) a year for the Domain Guard service. An additional fee of €80 (excluding VAT) is due if the Domain Guard service is suspended more than four times a year, in which case the additional fee allows for four additional suspensions.

When a registrar takes over (part of) the business of another registrar, domain names can be transferred in bulk between registrars. For the transfer of a portfolio of domain names between registrars, DNS Belgium charges €0.25 (excluding VAT) per domain name with a minimum of €500 (excluding VAT) per requested transaction.

DNS Belgium also charges €40 (excluding VAT) for the transfer of a domain name in quarantine. The total costs for a transfer and transfer-related services will depend on the price that is charged by the registrar. The licensing of domain names is permitted. However, the registrant remains the primary contact for third parties when addressing abuses.

ccTLD versus gTLD registration

What are the differences, if any, with registration in the ccTLD as compared with a generic top-level domain (gTLD)?

Registration of a domain name in the .be ccTLD is done on a first-come, first-served basis, as is the case for the majority of gTLDs. Anyone may register a .be ccTLD.

Domain names registered by private individuals will not be shown in the WHOIS database, provided that the registrant only filled in the fields that relate to private individuals.

Belgian courts have jurisdiction regarding domain name disputes in the .be ccTLD, regardless of the place of residence of the registrant. Registrars in the .be ccTLD are not necessarily accredited by ICANN.

For .brussels and .vlaanderen domain names, certain categories of domain names are reserved for national governments or operators or entities who have permission of those governments, namely:

  • second-level domain names with only two characters; and
  • names of countries.

Also, the name of international organisations is reserved for the organisation in question.

The duration of the redemption grace period is 10 days longer than the redemption grace period for gTLDs. The redemption grace period is 40 days in the .be ccTLD immediately following the deletion of a registration, during which the domain name is put in quarantine. The deleted registration may be restored at the request of the registrant through the registrar that deleted it.

Registrants’ privacy

Can the registrant use a privacy service to hide its contact information?

The use of a privacy service is not authorised. However, if the registrant is a private individual, the registrant’s data is fully protected and can therefore not be consulted through an ordinary search in the WHOIS records. The same applies to any ‘onsite’ or ‘tech’ contacts linked to such domain names, when a private individual is also concerned. For linked contacts of the managing registrar, DNS Belgium no longer shows the name of natural contact persons, but does show the contact details of the company.

For domain names registered in the name of legal entities, the registrant’s data is always shown in a WHOIS search, except when a natural contact person is concerned. For linked ‘onsite’, ‘tech’ and registrar contacts, the same rules apply as those mentioned above for private domain name registrations. This is a consequence of the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU on 25 May 2018. Before its introduction, DNS Belgium’s WHOIS records still displayed the email address and chosen language of domain name holders who are private individuals for the purpose of resolving disputes.