How to Register a Domain Name

Pick a unique domain to establish your online presence now

Domain names

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One of the most critical parts of setting up your website is purchasing your domain name. That doesn’t mean it’s hard, though. It actually may be the easiest step to take in getting your site online. There are loads of domain name registrars to purchase your domain name from, and there’s a good chance that your web host is one of them. A lot of hosting plans and services include a domain name for free, so if you already have a hosting plan, that’d be the thing to check first.

You definitely don’t need to buy your domain name from your web host. There’s something to be said for shopping around for a different domain registrar. Pricing varies, and some offer free services, like WHOIS protection, to help guard your privacy. You’ll also find that some registrars offer different domain extensions that others don’t.

Every domain registrar has its own process for purchasing your domain, but they all follow roughly the same steps. This guide is going to work with Namecheap, but the steps covered should apply to nearly any domain register.

How to Purchase a Domain Name

  1. Open your browser, and go to your domain registrar. In this example, it’s Namecheap.

    Namecheap homepage
  2. Use the domain search to see if your chosen domain name is available. Type the name into the field including your domain extension(.com, .org, etc.)

  3.  Press Search to kick off the investigation into what’s available.

    A screenshot of the Namecheap domain search.
  4. You’ll be taken to a table of search results. The domain extension that you searched for will appear at or near the top. Below, you’ll find other options that also may be available. If your chosen domain is available, you’ll see a fairly reasonable price — something near $10/year — listed next to it, with the option to Add to cart.

    A screenshot of the Namecheap domain search results.

    If the domain is not available you’ll receive a message saying that the domain name is taken and the option to make an offer to purchase it from the current owner.

    Some domain name registrars will let you know if the domain name you're searching for is up for sale. If it is, and you choose to pursue purchasing that domain you're going to pay a premium price for it. The registrar may help you negotiate the purchase, but they will also charge you an additional fee for providing that help.

  5. If you’re happy with your chosen domain, press Add to cart to continue.

  6. In your cart, you’ll be presented with some other options to purchase. The one thing you should be sure is enabled is WHOIS Guard to protect your privacy from ownership searches on the domain.

    The location of the WhoisGuard option in the Namecheap shopping cart.
  7. Press Confirm Purchase to continue.

  8. Before you can complete the purchase, you’ll need to create an account or sign in. If you already have an account, sign in now. Otherwise, fill out the form to register for a new one, and Create Account and Continue.

    Namecheap login or register
  9. Once you’re signed in, you’ll arrive on the order confirmation page. Review the information on the page, and scroll down to Payment Details, and enter a valid payment method, if you don’t already have one there.

  10. When you’re happy with the details of your order, press Pay Now to make it final.

If you selected the auto-renew option, your domains will automatically renew each year. Otherwise, you’ll receive a notice before they expire. The price you paid when you set up your domain is roughly what you’ll pay for each renewal, so it’s never too costly. That’s also why it may be a good idea to purchase a few domains with different extensions(.net, .org) to ensure that your visitors are always landing on your site.

The PayNow option in the Namecheap shopping cart.

Each registrar will have their own process for finding and purchasing your own unique domain name, but most of those will be similar to this one. Be sure to read any Terms of Service or Privacy Policies that appear during the registration process before you finalize your domain name purchase.