NIC Argentina, the Argentinian domain name Registry, has announced that it is launching domain name registrations directly at the second level under .AR. The launch started on 11 September 2019 and will end in February 2020.

Over the years, many countries have gradually allowed domain name registrations directly at the second level, for example the United Kingdom (.UK) most recently. Argentina is the latest country to follow this trend (ahead of Australia in early 2020, as covered in our article "Arrival of .AU domains delayed"). While domain name registrations in Argentina used to be possible only at the third level under extensions such as .COM.AR, .NET.AR or .ORG.AR, it is now possible to register domain names directly under .AR, provided that the registration requirements (a local administrative contact) are met.

The launch is taking place in 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: Grandfathering period ("Registro de preferencia") – from 11 September to 9 November 2019:

During this phase, holders of existing third-level domain names registered before 1 December 2015 (e.g. <domain.com.ar>) can apply for the corresponding domain names directly under .AR (e.g. <domain.ar>). At the end of the phase, if there are several applicants for the same domain name, a lottery will take place to determine which applicant has priority to register the domain name.

  • Phase 2: Landrush ("Registro de interés") – from 25 November 2019 to 23 January 2020:

This phase is open to all and a non-refundable application fee is required. All available .AR domain names can be registered. In common with the first phase, a lottery will take place if there are several applicants for the same domain name.

  • Phase 3: General Availability – from 23 February 2020:

From 23 February 2020 onwards, any available .AR domain can be registered on a "first come, first served" basis.

The way NIC Argentina is dealing with multiple applications during the Grandfathering and Landrush periods – by way of a lottery – is rather unusual. In the past some Registries have preferred to opt for auctions, others like Nominet (the UK Registry) have determined priority to register a domain name according to extensions (that is to say the registrant of an existing .CO.UK had priority over the registrant of the same domain name under .ORG.UK for example).

The launch of .AR domain names will undoubtedly raise interest and help the growth of domain name registrations in Argentina, which totalled approximately 499,000 at the end of August 2019. This figure has been steady over the years (a year before in August 2018 there were about 485,000 registered domain names), and rather low compared to other countries (by way of comparison, there are about 23 million domain names under .CN, the first ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain) in terms of volume of registrations). At the time of writing, over 18,500 domain names have already been registered directly under the .AR extension, bringing the total of Argentinian domain names to approximately 520,700 in the space of a few weeks. There is little doubt that this figure will keep increasing in the coming months.