Can I Be My Own Domain Name Registrar to Avoid Paying Renewal Fees Each Year?

Or maybe create my own domain name system with any name/suffix I like?

Can I Be My Own Domain Name Registrar So That I Can Avoid Paying Domain Renewal Fees Every Year?

by Christopher Heng,

As you may or may not know, the task of creating a website usually begins with getting a domain from a registrar. (A domain is, loosely speaking, the address of your website. For example, the domain of the website you are reading is "".) This involves the payment of an annual fee to the domain name registrar. One of my visitors baulked ("balked" in US English) at the thought of having to make this recurring expense for the life of his site, and asked if it was possible for him to be his own registrar.

It's More Expensive to be Your Own Registrar

If your aim is to save money, this solution will end up costing you more. Much more. A cursory look at the requirements of being a registrar shows the following costs:

  1. You have to pay an annual accreditation fee of something like USD $4,000 to ICANN, the organisation in charge of running the domain name system.

  2. You need to have a commercial insurance policy with a policy limit of at least USD $500,000.

  3. You have to pay ICANN a small yearly fee per domain name registered. I think it's 18 cents at the time I write this.

  4. Every domain name suffix has a registry operator. These operators maintain computers which contain the necessary data for domain names carrying those suffixes to work on the Internet. They also set the policies which determine who can get what domain. (For example, the operator for ".eu" only allows people and organisations in the European Union to register domains with that suffix.) For each domain you register, you have to pay the relevant operator a certain annual fee. For example, for ".com" names, you have to pay the operator USD $7.85 per name per year. Other suffixes have different fees.

Contrast this with an annual fee of about USD $10 if you simply use an existing domain name registrar. And I am sure my list above is actually incomplete, since it overlooks any technical requirements that you have to fulfill before you can be accredited.

Other Non-Viable "Solutions"

Over the years that has been in existence, I have come across many schemes to avoid the (approximately) $10 annual registrar fee that experienced webmasters regard as one of the unavoidable costs of running a website. In my opinion, they are not only impractical for the small-time webmaster, they will also end up costing him/her more. And what is incurred is occasionally not just financial but also opportunity costs.

Now I know that some of you will be thinking, "No, but my plan is not like any of these other schemes you have been told. It will surely work." That's entirely possible. The people who created the Internet today can't possibly be the only human beings who can invent workable systems. However, to save you time, in case it's a solution that has been tested and found wanting, let me list some of the more sensible plans I have been told, and the issues they face.

The Bottom Line

If you can actually afford to pay the registration fee, and are only exploring the alternatives because you dislike having to fork out for an annual payment, my recommendation is that you should just regard it as one of the costs of running a business on the web, and move on. As far as I know, there is no realistic way to avoid that expenditure. In fact, once your site is operational, you will find that it is just a miniscule part of your entire Internet business. It's really not worth using up all your time and energy on this little thing. You will have bigger issues that you need to attend to, namely, attracting visitors to your website, fulfilling your orders (or whatever your website business is about), answering customer support queries, etc. After all, it's only $10 (more or less) a year. Surely you intend your business to make more than that.

Of course if you genuinely cannot afford a domain name, then you have no choice in the matter at all. You will just have to set up a website without one. I don't recommend that, but if you have no choice, then there's nothing more that can be said about it. But make sure you know what you are getting into, because you will surely face the consequences in the future.

For those who have resolved to get their own domain, you can read my article on how to register one. Otherwise, if you are just browsing to learn more about domains in general, you may be interested in the list of my other articles on this topic.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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