What is a domain name?

A domain name is string of characters that make up a web address ( or email address ( and is an essential part of creating a website or setting up email.

Is it possible to obtain the Who-is (domain name holder and availability information) for a domain name in .za?

Yes, depending on the .za SLD you are considering. Not all SLDs have readily available Whois information for now. You would have to check with each SLD operator, but ZADNA also has a central Whois that links to the Whois services of individual .za SLDs.

How does a domain work?

Every computer on the public Internet has a unique numeric address—similar to the uniqueness of a telephone number—which is a string of numbers that is difficult for most people to remember. This string is called the “IP address.” IP stands for “Internet Protocol.”

To make it easier to find a given location on the Internet, the Domain Name System, or DNS, was invented. The DNS translates IP addresses into unique alphanumeric addresses called domain names that are easier to remember. If, for example, you would like to visit the ICANN website, would you rather remember the IP address, or type “”?

By associating a familiar string of letters—the domain name—with an IP address, the DNS makes it much easier for Internet users to remember websites and email addresses. In the example above, the “” part of the address is called the domain name. The “www.” part identifies to your browser that you are looking for the World Wide Web interface for that domain name.

Domain names can also be used to send email. Whether you are sending business or personal communications, you want to be certain that your message is directed to the intended addressee. To borrow an analogy from the phone system, when you dial a number, it rings at a particular location because there is a central numbering plan that ensures that each telephone number is unique.

The DNS works in a similar way. Both the domain name and the IP address behind it are unique. The DNS enables your email to reach the intended recipient (, for example) and not someone else with a similar domain name. It also enables you to type “,” without having to enter a lengthy IP address, and get to the right website. Without this uniqueness, both the DNS and the telephone systems would be less predictable and reliable.

A domain name can remain unchanged even if a website is moved to a different host computer or server because the DNS can be told to point an existing domain name to a new IP address. This is just like a household or a business moving its location—the family or business name stays the same, even if the street address changes.

What Is ICANN?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for managing and coordinating the Domain Name System to ensure that every address is unique and that all users of the Internet can find all valid addresses. It also oversees and coordinates the distribution of unique IP addresses and domain names. It also ensures that each domain name maps to the correct IP address.

ICANN is also responsible for accrediting the domain name registrars primarily for its generic Top Level Domains such as .com, .net, .org and .biz. “Accredit” means to identify and set minimum standards for the performance of registration functions, to recognize persons or entities meeting those standards, and to enter into an accreditation agreement that sets forth the rules and procedures applicable to the provision of Registrar Services.

ICANN’s role is very limited, and it is not responsible for many issues associated with the Internet, such as financial transactions, Internet content control, spam (unsolicited commercial email), Internet gambling, or data protection and privacy.

Tell me about dotJoburg, dotCapeTown and dotDurban domains

In the course of 2014, the public will soon be able to register names in the .durban, .joburg and .capetown TLDs. ZACR financed the application to ICANN for these three South African city top level domains (TLDs) – the three are collectively referred to as “dotCities”. ZADNA supported the ZACR application and secured the support of the Department of Communications and the city municipal councils.

In addition, ZADNA plays a policy development role for the dotCities. The dotCities are meant to complement .za and help build a vibrant South African domain name community with sufficient choice for domain name registration.

Why do South African domain names end in .za and not sa?

South Africa was a signatory to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals. That was the convention that chose the country codes for those oval stickers on cars that tell you where the car is from.

The country codes were established by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) before the domain name system. At the beginning of the DNS in the USA, computer scientists chose to adhere to all International standards, and therefore allocated .za to South Africa because .za was the country code already listed for South Africa.

Zuid-Afrika is Dutch for South Africa, hence .za. Also, .sa is taken by Saudi Arabia!



What are the fees involved in registering a domain name?

Usually, you need to pay a registration fee and then pay a renewal fee annually to keep hold of your name. There are not standard fees for .za yet, as the .za SLD (second level domain) operators determine their fees, while other domains do not charge registration and renewal fees. However, all SLDs in ZACR’s operation charge annual domain name fees.

In addition to registration and renewal fees, registrars may charge fees for hosting the domain name, website and email. These “secondary” fees are outside the regulatory ambit of ZADNA and are purely fees contractually agreed between a domain name holder and their registrar.

Can ZADNA help me choose a suitable registrar to register a domain name on my behalf?

No, ZADNA cannot advise people about suitable registrars. The ZA Central Registry (ZACR) has accredited more than 300 South African and international registrars to register names in all the SLDs under ZACR’s operation. The accredited registrars are listed at the ZACR website.

Does ZADNA register .za domain names?

No, ZADNA only administers and manages the .za namespace. This includes developing regulations, policy and procedures for .za, and the licensing of .za registries and registrars.

The process of registration of domain names usually requires that a person interested in a particular domain name registers such name using an Internet service provider (normally called “registrar”). The registrar then registers the name in an SLD database. A registry manages an SLD database.

Can Only South African citizens register .za?

There is no overall policy prohibiting non-South Africans from registering .za names, but most .za SLDs, especially the moderated ones, limit eligibility to South African persons. However, normally accepts domain name registrations from both South Africans and non-South Africans.

Where a non-South African registers a .za domain name, there is usually a requirement that the domain name holder consents to the application of South African law and jurisdiction of South African courts over any dispute involving the name.



What is an abusive registration?

An “abusive registration” is basically a domain name registration which is registered to take unfair advantage of another person’s rights, or to be detrimental to, or infringing, another person’s rights. The complainant must show that the complainant has rights in respect of a name or a mark which is identical or similar to the registered domain name, and that in the hands of the registrant, the registration of the domain name is abusive.

Example: An entity named ABC has DEF as its competitor. DEF decides to register as its domain name. This registration would constitute an abusive registration in that by registering, DEF is preventing ABC from registering a domain name that is the same as ABC’s company name.

Section 4 of the regulations provides a number of factors which a complainant can use to prove abusive registration. These include:

  • Circumstances showing that the registrant registered a domain name primarily to:
  • sell, rent or transfer the domain name to the complainant, its competitor or 3rd party for profit;
  • intentionally prevent the complainant from registering a mark or name to which the complainant has rights;
  • unfairly disrupt the business of the complainant; or
  • prevent the complainant from exercising their rights.
  • Circumstances indicating that the registrant has registered the domain name to deceive the public into believing the name is registered, used or connected to the complainant.
  • Evidence, when combined with other factors, shows that the registrant is involved in the pattern of making abusive registrations. Circumstance showing that the registrant registered the domain name as a result of a relationship with the complainant, and the complainant has been exclusively using the domain name and has paid for its registration or renewal
  • Section 5 lists a number of factors which the registrant may use to prove that the registration is not abusive.
What is a domain dispute?

A domain name dispute is a dispute regarding a registered domain name, which dispute is between a complainant and a person who registered a domain name (i.e. registrant). According to the Regulations, the basis of a domain name dispute can either be an abusive or an offensive registration.

Does ZADNA have mechanisms to resolve .za domain name disputes?

Yes, ZADNA has the Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations for the resolution of disputes, but the ADR Regulations only apply to un-moderated SLDs under ZACR’s operation.

The ADR Regulations are based on section 69 of the ECT Act that requires the Minister of Communications to promulgate ADR Regulations for the resolution of .za domain name disputes. The Regulations require ZADNA to accredit and oversee suitable South African entities to serve as ADR providers. Click here for more information.

In addition, ZADNA has authorised ZACR to also introduce and implement an additional rights protection mechanism called the Mark Validation System (MVS).

The MVS was born out of rights protection gaps arising from the ICANN new gTLD process, and is meant to allow South African and international intellectual property owners specific rights protection in the gTLDs under ZACR’s operation – these gTLDs being dotAfrica (.africa) and the dotCities i.e. dotCapeTown (.capetown), dotDurban (.durban) and dotJoburg (.joburg). For more on the MVS, please visit the ZACR website.

How do I lodge a domain name dispute?

A complainant can lodge a dispute by first selecting a service provider from those accredited by ZADNA. Then the dispute should be submitted to the selected accredited provider in the manner outlined in Chapter III of the Regulations. In addition, the complainant may be required by the accredited provider to satisfy supplementary requirements used by the provider in administering disputes.