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Feb '24

Best Domain Registrar 2024 – Forbes Advisor Canada – Forbes

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Updated: Jan 30, 2024, 6:02am
Fact Checked
Fact Checked
It can be surprisingly tricky to choose the best domain registrar. Many offer attractive introductory rates, buffered by high renewal rates, inclusions and contract lengths. To help take the guesswork out of the process and to avoid any surprises along the way, we’ve rounded up the top domain registrars you should have on your radar.
Featured Partner Offer
1
Namecheap
On Namecheap’s Website
Starting price
$6.98 USD ($9.32 CAD) for the first year
Renewal price
$13.98 USD ($18.88 CAD) per year
Free WHOIS privacy
Yes
2
Godaddy
On GoDaddy’s Website
Starting price
$0.01 CAD per year (with three-year billing)
Renewal cost
$29.99 CAD per year
Free WHOIS privacy
Yes
3
Domain.com
On Domain.com’s Website
Starting price
$10.99 USD ($14.67 CAD) for the first year
Renewal cost
$13.99
Free WHOIS privacy
$19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year
The Forbes Advisor Small Business team is committed to bringing you unbiased rankings and information with full editorial independence. We use product data, strategic methodologies and expert insights to inform all of our content to guide you in making the best decisions for your business journey.
We analyzed the top players in the space and narrowed it down to scrutinize and rank the top 10 across 12 key metrics. Our ratings consider factors such as transparent pricing, employee self-sufficiency, compatibility with third-party integrations, access to customer support and ratings. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.
$6.98 USD ($9.32 CAD) for the first year

$13.98 USD ($18.88 CAD) per year

Yes

$6.98 USD ($9.32 CAD) for the first year

$13.98 USD ($18.88 CAD) per year

Yes

NameCheap is one of the best domain name registrars because it offers low registration prices for top-level domain names (TLD). The popular .com extension costs as low as $6.98 USD ($9.32 CAD) per year for your first term and renews at $13.98 USD ($18.88 CAD) per year (with discounts for multiple-year renewals). Other TLDs are a bit pricier: $11.98 USD ($15.99 CAD) for .net and .org, and $14.98 ($20 CAD) for .io with the current promotion.
Every domain registration gets free WHOIS privacy for as long as you use NameCheap as your registrar. NameCheap charges for a few extras, including DDoS protection and SSL certificates. It offers web hosting, VPNs, and email at a cost, also.
Learn more: Read our full NameCheap review.
Who Should Use It:
NameCheap is an ideal domain registrar for anyone who needs domain names. Its free domain privacy, fair registration fees and low renewal costs are why NameCheap is one of the best domain registrars.
$10.99 USD ($14.67 CAD) for the first year

$19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year

No

$10.99 USD ($14.67 CAD) for the first year

$19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year

No

Pricing for domains at Domain.com is a bit buried, but you can find a full list to make it easier for you to decide which extension is most affordable for you. The standard .com costs $10.99 USD ($14.67 CAD) for the first year and renews at $19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year. Rather than get a discount for a longer term, you’re charged more: A .com domain costs $58.95 USD ($79.71 CAD) for five years.
Domain.com charges extra for domain privacy and DDoS protection, but it bundles those features in one price ($8.99 USD ($12 CAD) for the first year). You can get hosting, SSL certificates and email at an added cost. Other domains are a bit pricey at Domain.com: A .io extension costs $47.99 USD ($64.08 CAD) the first year ($62.99 USD ($84.11 CAD) renewal) and .shop is 1.99 USD ($2.65 CAD) and $44.99 USD ($60.07 CAD) (for renewal).
Who Should Use It:
You could do well with Domain.com for short-term website projects. You can only register a domain for five years at a time, and then you’ll be locked into a higher renewal cost.
$17 CAD per year

$12 USD ($16.02 CAD) per year

Yes

$17 CAD per year

$12 USD ($16.02 CAD) per year

Yes

Google Domains is a straightforward domain registrar. Pricing is transparent and fair, and you can see how much you’ll pay before even going to your cart. Most popular extensions are $17 CAD per year (.com, .net, .org, .us, .info), but .io is pricier at $81 CAD per year. You get domain privacy for free, but there are no options for DDoS protection. In fact, the only other add-on is for Google’s Workspace suite. Also, Google Domains doesn’t offer nearly as many extensions as other registrars.
We like that Google Domains offers insights about your domain choice. For example, we chose a .com with the word “castle” in it, and Google Domains pointed out people might hear “kassel” and type it incorrectly. Registering a domain with Google Domains is simple and there are few upsells.
Who Should Use It:
Google Domains is strictly a domain registrar (okay, email registrar, too), so this is best to use if you already know which web host you want to use.
$7.99 USD ($10.66 CAD) per year

$17.99 USD ($24.02 CAD) per year

Yes

$7.99 USD ($10.66 CAD) per year

$17.99 USD ($24.02 CAD) per year

Yes

The price for a .com domain with Dreamhost is $7.99 USD ($10.66 CAD) per year for your first year, then $17.99 USD ($24.02 CAD) per year upon renewal. Dreamhost is better known as a web host, so it’s no surprise to see an upsell in the checkout process to get hosting. However, if you have an existing web hosting plan with Dreamhost you may get additional discounts on domains.
Domain name privacy comes standard, keeping your personal information private. However, one downside compared to the other best domain name registrars is that there are no options to add on DDoS protection.
Who Should Use It:
Dreamhost offers low-cost domain registration for the first year, but renewals are pricey. However, it could be an attractive option if you also plan on using Dreamhost for your web hosting or for beginners who might need extra assistance from support.
$14.99 USD ($20.01 CAD) per year

$16.99 USD ($22.68 CAD) per year

Yes

$14.99 USD ($20.01 CAD) per year

$16.99 USD ($22.68 CAD) per year

Yes

Hover is first and foremost a domain registrar, but it also offers email. If you choose Hover for your domain registration, you’ll have to find a separate web host. Hover’s pricing is slightly above average for the industry, but it does offer free domain privacy. A .com extension costs $14.99 USD ($20.01 CAD), $13.99 USD ($18.68 CAD) (renews at $15.99 USD ($21.35 CAD)) for a .org, $16.99 USD ($22.68 CAD) for a .net (renews at 15.99 USD ($21.35 CAD)) and $34.99 USD ($46.72 CAD) for a .io (renews at 49.99 USD ($66.75 CAD)).
Hover offers sales often on specific extensions, so you may be able to get a deal at regular prices. You can register a domain for up to 10 years, but there’s no discount for multiple years. Hover discounts bulk domain renewals, though. So, if you need multiple domains, you can save on 10 or more domains when you renew after the first year (discounts also apply to multi-year plans). For example, if you register 10 domains for two years each, the second year for each domain gets a discount.
Who Should Use It:
Hover is a great choice for anyone who needs multiple domains, thanks to its discount for bulk domains.
$0.01 CAD per year (with three-year billing)

$29.99 CAD per year

Yes

$0.01 CAD per year (with three-year billing)

$29.99 CAD per year

Yes

GoDaddy is one of the first big names in domains, so there’s an expectation for it to be one of the best domain name registrars. Over the years, it’s become more than it once was—now it offers web hosting, email, marketing tools and a website builder. It’s a one-stop shop for web services.
Pricing is a bit expensive with GoDaddy, even though it offers deep first-year discounts. A .com costs $29.99 CAD regularly, .net is $29.99 CAD, .org is $27.99 CAD and .io is $84.99 CAD, all with the same renewal prices. When you search for a domain name, GoDaddy shows you the results along with insights about your choice. And then you get to the upsells—and there are a lot with GoDaddy.
Learn More: Read our full GoDaddy review.
Who Should Use It:
The best use case for GoDaddy is when you need an all-in-one domain registrar, web host and site builder. You’ll get a deep discount on your first term, but to make the best of it, you’ll have to commit to a long-term contract.
$17.62 CAD per year

$19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year

No

$17.62 CAD per year

$19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year

No

Bluehost is best known as a web host, but it also offers domain registration services. Pricing starts at $17.62 CAD for .com (renews at $19.99 USD or $26.69 CAD), $25.76 CAD for .net (renews at $19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD)), 13.55 CAD for .org (renews at $19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD)) and $11.99 USD ($16.01 CAD) for .io (renews at $11.99 USD or $16.01 CAD). Its pricing is average for the first term, but renewals are a bit more expensive.
You can get everything you need from Bluehost to get started with a website, but everything comes at an added cost, including domain privacy. The best deal you can get with Bluehost is as a bundle, but as a domain registrar, you’ll pay higher prices.
Read more: Read our full Bluehost review.
Who Should Use It: If you’re looking to start a website and you’re not sure what your plans are for it after the first year, getting a bundle from Bluehost is a good choice to get a free domain name for the first year.
$12.95 USD ($17.29 CAD) per year

$19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year

No

$12.95 USD ($17.29 CAD) per year

$19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year

No

HostGator is primarily a web host that also offers domain registration. In fact, as a domain registrar, it focuses on TLDs, such as .com, .store, .biz and .org. HostGator doesn’t offer premium domain extensions, like .io.
Introductory pricing is on the high end–especially when it renews at $19.99 USD ($26.69 CAD) per year and does not include domain privacy. Meanwhile, providers such as Google Domains offer domains for $17 USD ($22.70 CAD) per year and the pricing does not increase upon renewal. It does, however, offer web hosting plans, which include a free domain name and costs as little as $2.75 USD ($3.67 CAD) per month.
Read more:Read our full HostGator review.
Who Should Use It:
If you plan on sticking to the most popular domain name extensions and you need a web host, HostGator could be a good pick for you, but it is a bit expensive.
$25 USD ($33.38 CAD) per year
(billed annually)
$37.99 USD ($50.73 CAD)
per month
No

$25 USD ($33.38 CAD) per year
(billed annually)
$37.99 USD ($50.73 CAD)
per month
No

Network Solutions has an advantage in the domain registrar industry because it’s a pioneer—it’s been around for more than 25 years. Perhaps that’s why its prices are so high. Single-year registration of a .com domain is $25 USD ($33.38 CAD), and it renews at $37.99 USD ($50.73 CAD) per year. It isn’t just the .com extension that’s pricey. A .net and .org are also $25 USD ($33.38 CAD) per year, and a .io is $79.99 USD ($106.82 CAD) per year.
You’ll have to pay extra for any addons at Network Solutions. You can have access to hosting, SSL certificates, email and marketing tools, all at added costs. One of the most frustrating things is that Network Solutions may offer a promotional service that’s free for the first month, and in the fine print is the cost you’ll pay after that. If you don’t remove it from your cart, you’re stuck paying extra fees.
Who Should Use It:
You might want to choose Network Solutions if its longevity seems like insurance for your domain. It offers 100-year domain registration plans, and it’s the longest-living registrar, so unlikely to go out of business.
N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

BuyDomains is a unique type of domain registrar. It’s more like an auction site for former domains that have a high value. So, if you search for a domain name that’s available on other domain registrars, it won’t show up on BuyDomains, but similar domains that are for sale will. For example, we searched for “ghostlycastle.com” and a list of domains for sale popped up, including “castleonline.com” for $5,088 USD ($6,794.68 CAD).
For domain privacy and renewal, you’ll have to transfer your domain to a typical domain registrar after buying the one you want from BuyDomains.
Who Should Use It: BuyDomains is a great place to buy a domain if you’re looking for a premium name that was previously registered. You can find some good deals and excellent domain names for businesses.

When choosing a domain name registrar, it’s vital to consider a variety of factors. For example, you not only want a registrar that offers the domain name extensions (e.g., .com or .biz) you’re looking for, but also offers competitively priced domains (for your first year and every year thereafter), and includes money-saving extras.
Here’s what to consider when choosing a domain name:
By looking at the factors above, you can help find the best domain registrar for you and your unique preferences and needs.
In order to determine the best domain registrars for small businesses, Forbes Advisor researched providers in the space and narrowed it down to the 10 top providers. We analyzed them across five primary categories for a total of 12 different metrics. Then, we gave more weight to the features that matter most to small businesses.
Here are the metrics we used to evaluate the top domain name registrars.
Pricing is one of the driving factors in determining which of the leading domain name registrars are the best. This accounts for 40% of our scoring. Domain name pricing is notoriously tricky—many registrars offer low-cost introductory pricing, followed by a steep increase in pricing upon renewal. By looking at both the intro and renewal rates, we got a complete picture of long-term affordability.
While most domain registrars offer largely the same feature set, there are common features that many overlook, which is why we weighed this at 30% for our scoring. For example, the inclusion of domain name privacy, domain transfers, security and business email. We considered which providers offered these to determine further which ones offer the best value for the price.
It can be difficult enough to find an available domain name, but it shouldn’t be difficult to use a domain registrar’s site to buy a domain. Additionally, upon purchasing a new domain, it should be as easy as possible to connect your new domain to your content management system (CMS).
We combine features, value for the money, popularity and ease of use to account for 10% of our total score.
Domain registrar services should also help connect domains to websites through educational resources and guides. Not only should these be very easy to follow, but there should also be step-by-step instructions for all of the leading content management systems (e.g., WordPress, Squarespace and Shopify).
To gain insight into how users find these domain registrars, we looked at third-party user reviews. We considered how the providers were rated and what users like and dislike about the various domain registrars.
As straightforward as buying a domain should be, users often discover nuances during the checkout process or after becoming a customer. To avoid any surprises, we included our insights gathered from first-hand experience using these domain registrars.
A domain registrar is a service that “sells” domain names. When you register a domain name, you don’t really own it, rather you rent or lease it, which is why you have to renew your domain name every year or term. There are some add-on services you should know about before you choose a domain registrar.
Without going too in-depth into what ICANN and WHOIS are, suffice to say it’s the non-profit corporation that is responsible for keeping the internet secure and the naming structure of websites as it is. It requires anyone who registers a domain to provide accurate identifiable contact information, including name, address, email and phone number. Not everyone is comfortable with that information being public.
Domain registrars have found a way to keep your info safe and still provide ICANN with the info they need. These domain privacy features replace your information with the registrar’s info, at least publicly. Anyone can look up who registered a domain name, so having domain privacy can reduce spam for you, and keep you safe.
Arguably, the most popular domain extension is .com, but other TLDs include .net, .org, .edu and .gov. There are literally hundreds more from which you can choose, and the less popular extensions are usually less expensive, with a few exceptions. The popularity of .io and .co has skyrocketed recently, so they’re pricier.
Some extensions are restricted and you can’t purchase them unless you meet certain requirements. Restricted extensions include .edu and .gov. Overall, all extensions work the same. The .com extension is preferable because it’s easy to remember.
Because .com is so popular, you may have difficulty finding your business name available as a .com. You can try one of the more obscure extensions, such as .info, .store, .shop or any other of the hundreds available. If you’re set on getting a .com, though, consider using modifications on your business name.
Let’s assume “ghostlycastle.com” is not available, and then try these changes:
Disclaimer: It’s worth noting that many of the domain registrars we include in our list of the best domain name registrars are subsidiaries of Endurance International Group (EIG), including Bluehost, HostGator, Domain.com and BuyDomains. The fact that they’re all under one umbrella should not affect the service you receive for domain registration, but it’s good to know.
Canadian specific editing and research (including pricing) conducted by Anna Rey.
A domain registrar service will let you quickly search for available domains. Once you’ve chosen one that you like, the service will walk you through the checkout process and offer guidance on how to connect your domain to your site.
Not all domain registrars offer the same domain name extensions (.com, .net, etc.) or features. Some include free domain privacy. Others offer additional web services, such as web hosting, email and marketing tools. Many of the best web hosting services usually offer domain registration.
The short answer is: You can’t. Domain registration is more like a rental or leasing service. Most domain registrars allow you to register your domain for up to 10 years at a time, and they’ll usually offer an auto-renewal service, so you don’t lose your domain.
Using one of the domain registrars listed here, you can enter the domain name that you would like to use in the designated name search field. If the name is not in use, no information will come up and you can claim that name. If the name is currently in use, you can find out information that includes the domain name owner, creation date and expiration date.
The most popular domain extension, .com, stands for commerce. Other commonly seen ones include .net for network, .org for organization, .edu for education, .gov for government, .info for information, .biz for business, .mil for military and .pro for professional. Many countries also have domain names that end in letters related to them, such as .uk for the United Kingdom, .ru for Russia and .cn for China. Some less-common domain extensions include .aero for the air transport industry, .museum for museums, .name for individuals, .coop for cooperatives and .travel for businesses in the travel industry.
It is possible to create a website without registering a domain name, but you won’t be able to properly brand your site. For example, if you choose a free website plan from a web host, you’ll be given a subdomain of the host’s domain (yoursite.webhost.com). It’s more professional (and easier to remember) than an actual domain—plus, it helps with your brand equity and ranking in search engines.
Amy Nichol Smith has more than 20 years experience as a journalist and editor, writing on a range of topics, including tech products and services, the gaming industry, and small business. She has been featured in Tom's Guide, L.A. Times, Business.com, Reader's Digest, and Investopedia. Her favorite tech product is a tie between her Roomba and gaming PC.
Kelly is an SMB Editor specializing in starting and marketing new ventures. Before joining the team, she was a Content Producer at Fit Small Business where she served as an editor and strategist covering small business marketing content. She is a former Google Tech Entrepreneur and she holds an MSc in International Marketing from Edinburgh Napier University. Additionally, she manages a column at Inc. Magazine.

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Joker
Joker

Joker has been buying and selling domains since the late 90's. He has worked with many portfolios and investors over the past decade as well.

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