If you are a start-up business, you will need a whole host of print material as well as your website to market your business. Finances will be limited at the beginning so choosing a domain name and registering it prior to having all your print material printed is critical.
Your website designer will also need to know the domain name before completing your new website design, so that links can be referenced correctly.
Register your business name before your domain name
If you haven't already done so, you should register your business name with the appropriate authority before choosing your domain name. There's nothing worse than finding out after you've spent a ton of money on marketing material that your proposed business name is already being used by another party.
Before you register your business name do both a NUANS search, which will let you know if another company is using the same business name, and a domain name search, which will let you know if the domain name is available. If the business name you choose is already registered, you will need to think of a different name.
Canadians can register a .ca domain name
If the .com domain name you choose is already registered you have several options. As a Canadian business owner, you can register a .ca domain name instead but you will need to register with a Canadian domain name registrar.* We list a few companies on the right.
You will also have to register your domain name with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) and provide your residential address to prove that you are a Canadian resident. Visit CIRA for a full list of recommended Canadian registrars.
Try alternative domain name options
If neither .com or .ca are available you could also try .biz, .info or .net, or if you provide personal services you could use .me or .name.
If none of these options are available, try hyphenating, abbreviating or lengthening the name, e.g. use initials, add services to the end of the name, or perhaps your location.
Choose a short, easy to remember domain name
Your domain name should be as short as possible so that it's easy to remember. The domain name you choose should also be something your customers can identify you or your business by: the business name, your business catchphrase or perhaps the unique benefit, product or service that you offer
Register early to avoid disappointment
Once you've established that both your business name and domain name are available, register them straight away to avoid disappointment. You can do both online. The cost of registering a domain name should be approximately $10 per year. Often, you can register your domain name for a period of five years.
Check out the hosting plans domain name registrars offer
Some domain name registrars also provide web hosting and some even offer free domain names with their hosting plans. Although you don't have to register and host with the same company, this might be worth considering. In the long term, it could be cheaper to purchase a hosting plan that includes a free domain name, especially if you plan to launch your website fairly soon.
*Note: This information is primarily provided with Canadian business owners in mind.
Below are just a few of the Canadian domain registrars listed on the CIRA website.
Most offer a variety of domain name options (.ca, .com, .biz, .me, .name, .info etc) but only CIRA certified registrars can register a Canadian (.ca) domain name.
To select a different Canadian registrar visit CIRA.ca for the complete list of CIRA certified registrars.
Here are just a few US based domain name registrars. You cannot register a .ca domain name with these companies.