Registration and use of domains at ccTLD registry


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

The Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands (SIDN) is responsible for the registration of the .nl ccTLD. SIDN also provides registry services for, inter alia, .aw (Aruba), .amsterdam and .politie (police).


How are domain names registered?

The first step to registering a domain name is for an applicant to contact a registrar of his or her choice. A registrar is an intermediary that will represent the applicant in dealings with SIDN. There are about 1,200 registrars in the Netherlands and they are all listed on the SIDN website. The registrar will provide the applicant with the general terms of SIDN and will submit the application. After receiving the application from the registrar, SIDN will register the domain name, unless the domain name does not meet the technical requirements or is inconsistent with public order or decency. SIDN may refuse to register a domain name if the applicant has failed to fulfil its obligations to SIDN in the past. If all goes well, the registration procedure takes no longer than an hour.


For how long is registration effective?

The applicant will enter into an agreement with SIDN and the registrar. The agreement with SIDN does not have an expiry date; the period of registration is indefinite. The registrant may unilaterally terminate the registration by submitting a cancellation request through its registrar. SIDN may terminate the agreement if the applicant fails to fulfil the obligations of the agreement and has failed to remedy that breach within 30 days after notification thereof. These obligations (included in the General Terms and Conditions for .nl Registrants) are mostly of an administrative or technical nature but also relate to the use of the domain name (eg, its consistency with public order and decency). The duration of the agreement with the registrar may vary from one registrar to another.


What is the cost of registration?

A .nl domain name must be registered through a registrar recognised by SIDN. The applicant only needs to pay the registrar, because the registrar contributes SIDN. The amount that the applicant pays to the registrar varies from one registrar to another and also depends on the services offered by the registrar. Generally, the cost of registration is between €4 and €15 a year. The registrar may charge an additional one-off registration fee.


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

Transfer to another registrant

A registered domain name is transferable and can be passed on from one registrant to another. From a legal perspective, changing the registrant involves the cancellation of the existing agreement with SIDN and the conclusion of a new agreement between SIDN and the new registrant. To transfer a domain name, the registrar must inform SIDN of the new registrant so that the records can be updated. Like the registration itself, the modification of the registration goes through a registrar, and therefore the procedure may slightly differ per registrar. SIDN will send confirmation to the domain name’s administrative contacts and the registrar. The new registrant of the domain name can also choose to use the services of another registrar.


Transfer to another registrar

A domain name registration can also be transferred from one registrar to another. After selecting a new registrar the domain holder can ask the existing registrar for a transfer token. With this token, the domain holder can ask the new registrar to transfer the domain. SIDN will confirm the transfer.



The General Terms and Conditions for .nl Registrants do not explicitly mention that the registrant is not allowed to license its rights under the agreement with SIDN to a third party. In practice, it can happen that the registrant is not the same party as the party exploiting the domain name. However, the registrant will remain responsible to SIDN for the use of the domain name.

ccTLD versus gTLD registration

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

SIDN is the sole registry in the Netherlands responsible for the registration of the Dutch ccTLD .nl. SIDN also provides registry services for the ccTLD .aw and the gTLDs .amsterdam and .politie. Anyone can apply for a .nl domain name. However, for .nl registrants living or registered outside the Netherlands, the registrant is obliged to use SIDN’s office address as a domicile address for legal proceedings relating to the domain name.

Many Dutch registrars also provide registration services concerning some of the other gTLDs that are under foreign control. Similar to the registration of .nl domain names, these registrars will, in principle, take care of the whole registration process. However, the terms, including fees, may vary depending on the gTLD in which registration is pursued.

Registrants’ privacy

Is the registrant’s contact information freely available? Can the registrant use a privacy service to hide its contact information?

SIDN makes a distinction between private and business registrants. The only information about a private registrant given in SIDN WHOIS is the administrative contact’s email address. If the registrant is a business, the name is also shown. Also, the registrant can voluntarily choose to have an address visible. The use of a privacy service is discouraged by SIDN but allowed. Domain name holders that have special reasons to prevent publication of their (business) name or the email address of their administrative and technical contact can file an opt-out request. An opt-out is only allowed in exceptional cases, and general reasons, such as spam, are not accepted. To make an opt-out request, a registrant sends a reasoned statement to his or her registrar, the registrar forwards the request to SIDN and SIDN will decide within three weeks whether or not the request is approved. If SIDN decides to decline the request an appeal can be lodged with the Complaints and Appeal Board.

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26 February 2021