Indeed, up until now, applicants for .IE domain names had to meet the following registration requirements:
1. A connection to Ireland (via Irish nationality, an Irish address, a company based in Ireland, a trade mark affording protection in Ireland, or proof of trade with Ireland);
2. A “claim to the name” (a valid reason for applying for the domain name was necessary – for example the domain name had to match the company or trade mark name).
In its Public Consultation, the Registry proposed relaxing the registration requirements by dropping the “claim to the name” requirement, which limited the possibilities for registering .IE domain names.
The proposition having received positive feedback, the Registry has announced that the policy change will be implemented in March.
Even though the liberalisation is not total, as the connection to Ireland will still be required, this is a welcome move from IEDR that should increase the number of domain name registrations under .IE, which are rather low, currently standing at approximately 239,000. By way of comparison, the German country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) .DE – the largest European ccTLD and the second largest ccTLD worldwide behind the Chinese ccTLD .CN – counts around 16.4 million domain names.
It is interesting to note that .IE currently has the same registration requirements as those that the French ccTLD .FR had up until fourteen years ago. Indeed, .FR had very similar registration rules (a connection to France and the claim to the name) but started opening up in 2004 when it dropped the claim to the name requirement. It liberalised further in 2011 when the connection to France requirement was replaced with the need for a presence in the European Union.
These measures obviously had the effect of increasing the number of .FR domain name registrations, and the new measure implemented by IEDR as of March will undoubtedly help boost .IE too, although to a lesser extent, as it will remain restricted to registrants having a connection to Ireland. It is, however, interesting that IEDR is taking a more relaxed approach to registration requirements, something more and more ccTLD Registries are doing, thus opening up new domain name possibilities for Internet users.
Authored by David Taylor and Laetitia Arrault