Surge in '.ie' domain names as rules are relaxed

People no longer have to justify their reasons for requesting a particular domain

An internet hosting company says demand for '.ie' registrations has surged this week, as rules around them are relaxed.

Blacknight says Ireland's national domain had "a record day" on Wednesday, with almost 700 applications approved.

This is more than five-times the typical daily average for .ie - while registrations for the month so far are up 62% on last year.

The numbers bring the figures for new .ie names to 4,015 so far for March.

The company says the surge is due to a change in policy, whereby it is no longer necessary for applicants to justify their reasons for requesting a particular domain name.

All that is required is that they can show a connection to Ireland.

"Individuals can most commonly do this using a scan or photo of their passport or driving licence, or even a utility bill with an Irish address", Blacknight says.

"Companies can do so using their company registration, VAT Number, or if they have Irish or EU registered trademarks.

"Foreign companies are also eligible if they show evidence of doing business with Ireland."

But this also means that they no longer have to provide additional evidence of their entitlement to a particular name.

From Wednesday, domain names are essentially first-come, first-served.

However, the .ie Domain Registry can refuse applications "where the proposed name is likely to lead to confusion, or is likely to be subject to an administrative proceeding under the Dispute Resolution Policy".

Michele Neylon, CEO of Blacknight, says it has removed an obstacle which resulted in many Irish SMEs choosing .com or other domains.

"For a small business, they don’t care about domain names, they really don’t.

"They want to get themselves online; they want a digital presence, and if they’ve the choice between registering their-business-name.com or their-business-name.ie a lot of them were going to go for the .com because it was quick, it was easy, it was simple".

"It means now, for example, that people can register nicknames easily. Whereas previously you’d have had to provide some kind of documentation."

"If you wanted to register a nickname, you’d have had to provide evidence that you were known by that name. If you wanted to register an alternative version of your name, you couldn’t do that easily”.

For comparison, there are less than 250,000 .ie domain names registered - compared to over 133 million .com registrations.

"When you’ve got a namespace with less than a quarter of a million names registered, there are a way more opportunities.

"There are still things like dictionary words that are available, or simple short memorable names" Mr Neylon adds.