These are the parties involved when buying and selling domain names. 

1. Registry 

A domain name registry is actually a database, a register that contains all registered domain names and the associated information of the people and organisations that registered the domain name in a particular top-level domain ( TLD ). Also read our 'Crystal clear' about registries.

Distinction here between a "thin" and a "thick" registry:

  • A thin registry contains only the minimum data needed for the Domain Name System to function (domain name, name of registrar, name of name servers assigned to the domain). It is the registrar that maintains the other information (name, address and contact details of domain holder).
  • With a thick registry, all that information is in the database of the registry itself and it is responsible for keeping it up to date. A thin registry is often used when managing gTLDs such as .com, .net and .org. 

A registry is an organisation that manages domain name registrations for the top-level domain for which it is responsible. It sets the conditions for assigning a domain name, and is technically responsible for the operation thereof. It also ensures that there are no duplicate registrations. 

DNS Belgium is the registry for the .be, .vlaanderen and .brussels top-level domains. Usually you cannot register a domain name directly with a registry. 

2. Registrar 

A registrar is an organisation that has a contract with the ICANN (for gTLDs) or with national registries (for ccTLDs) to sell domain names in certain TLDs. You will be able to register your trade name "", but also for bobdebuilder.toy or with the registrar. 

A gTLD registrar must adhere to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, established by the ICANN,  but also to the agreements with the registries of the domain names it sells. 

Some concrete rules from the ICANN for (gTLD) registrars: 

  • Domain name holders must agree to ICANN terms and conditions 
  • Information must be published in the WHOIS database must be kept up-to-date by, for example, sending a verification e-mail to the e-mail address with which a domain name was registered  
  • Inform domain name holders when their domain is about to expire 

3. Reseller  

A reseller is an organisation that has a contract with a registrar to sell domain names and other services offered by that registrar, e.g. web hosting or an e-mail box. Resellers only bound only by the agreement they entered into with the registrar. They are not accredited by the ICANN, but a registrar remains responsible for the domain names sold by its reseller.  

4. Registrant 

When you register a domain name, you are a registrant ).  A registrant can be a company, an organisation or a private person.