Here are the top ten most frequently asked questions regarding on Internet domain name registration:
Q1. Which characters are allowed in Internet domain names?
A: For normal ASCII domain names, the letters a-z, the numbers 0-9, and one special character, the hyphen or dash "-". Note that domains cannot start or end with a hyphen. For the new tested IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names), the full range of Unicode characters are available. This allows nearly all of the languages on the planet to be represented within domain names, including Thai, Arabic, Lao, Hebrew, French, German etc.
Q2. How many characters can a Internet domain name have?
A: Generic domains (gTLDs) can have 63 characters in the second level, plus the top level domain, .com, .net etc.
Q3. How long can I register a Internet domain name for?
A: In most cases, you are allowed to register a Internet domain name for period of one to ten years. Longer periods are not currently allowed by the registry.
Q4. How long do Internet domain registrations take to make & process?
A: Typically ten minutes or so. Once you have chosen the name and paid the fee, most registration systems will register your name in near real-time.
Q5. Do I "own" a domain name I register?
A: Not really, it is more like a rental agreement. But importantly, you have the exclusive right to renew the agreement with the registry at the end of the initial registration period, so effectively you can keep the name as long as you want.
Q6. Why does my Internet domain name still show as unregistered in a WHOIS tool?
A: WHOIS tools are meant to show the nameserver / contact information for domain names held by a particular ICANN registrar. They are typical not updated in real-time and thus are not good indicators of current domain registration status.
Q7. How will I know if a Internet domain registration attempt has been successful?
A: WHOIS tool takes anything up to 48 hrs to be updated so can't be relied on. A better indicator is whether you receive a confirmation e-mail from the domain registrar. You could also try registering the name again. By doing so, the registrar will do a "live" availability check on the name, which will indicate to you whether the name has been registered or not. This is not the same as a WHOIS look-up.
Q8. How long do domain names take to be active after registration?
A: Approximately 24 - 48 hrs, though because nameservers work as a distributed network, it can take up to 72 hrs or more before your domain name is accessible to all Internet users worldwide.
Q9. Can I register a Internet domain for later use?
A: There is no problem in registering domain names first, and using them later on. In fact, it is estimated that among 80% to 90% of all domain names are "idle".
Q10. Can I get a refund if I make a mistake & register the wrong name?
A: Nearly all domain registrars operate a strict no refund policy. This is because they are charged a non-refundable fee by the registry to perform the registration.
John Leong is the webmaster at Internet Domain Registration Guide where you will find the latest news and information on domain name registration.