A non-profit association, Afnic is the long-standing body managing .fr domain names.
Today, we pursue this mission by constantly improving our technical infrastructure, developing new tools, and contributing to the influence of an internet made in France.
Established in 1997, Afnic is the acronym for Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération, the French Network Information Centre. Since our creation, we have managed the domain name registry in France (currently more than 3.7 million .fr domain names), in connection with the entire Internet ecosystem in France.
Because the .fr ccTLD is a public good, our role is considered one of general interest, consisting in contributing on a daily basis to:
- a secure and stable internet;
- open to innovation;
- in which the French internet community plays a leading role.
With recognised expertise in the underlying infrastructures of the internet and in particular the DNS (Domain Name System), we take an active part in global internet governance, setting the rules and standards of tomorrow.
At Afnic, we defend a certain approach to the Internet and online presence. Find the essential points behind our commitment to a Made in France internet, which benefits everyone.Download our manifesto
A general interest mission
The .fr ccTLD is the first digital public good of the French people.
As a non-profit association, Afnic has set up a multi-party governance bringing together all the stakeholders in the French internet: public authorities, users and the private sector.
We advocate the values of integrity, openness, professionalism and community to promote an internet made in France that benefits everyone. We are committed to constantly ensuring a high level of performance and reliability, and to managing .fr with maximum effectiveness in the service of the general interest: 90% of the profits generated by .fr go to the Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity.
In order to champion the general interest, we also protect our independence. Afnic does not receive any grants or subsidies its functioning, and operates as an SME. Our activities are financed entirely through the provision of our services.
An active player in the internet ecosystem, in France and in the world at large
Afnic is based in Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, France. Just over 80 people, drawn from a wide variety of different backgrounds, work within Afnic for this common good, the internet made in France.
This work is not carried out alone: we favour cooperation with the players in the French internet ecosystem in all fields – particularly in the field of innovation, within the Paris-Saclay area, a hotbed of world-class expertise.
As standard bearers for a French approach to an open internet that benefits all, we also contribute actively to internet governance within ICANN, the Internet Governance Forum (the 2018 Paris edition of which we hosted), IETF and other standards organisations, RIPE, CENTR, etc.
Operational excellence: reliability of .fr
The reliability of the DNS is the first of our commitments: the .fr ccTLD must be available 100% of the time, with a response time of less than 150 ms.
We are constantly improving our information system to raise our performance standards every year in domain name resolution, as well as their creation, the availability of the Whois domain name directory service, the fight against abuse (protection against hijacking) and the protection of personal data.
And we apply this same performance requirement to our customer relationships, particularly with Registrars, with:
- Dedicated account managers and an integrated customer support department;
- The development of services to further strengthen the security of the DNS;
- And the simplicity of the .fr ccTLD.
Innovation and new services
Thanks to our origins within Inria, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, R&D forms part of our DNA. As part of our collaborative approach to research, we partner with public laboratories, foreign counterparts and industry to put the DNS at the service of new technologies (IoT or authentication protocols, for example).
We also develop innovative services for our Registrar clients, as well as back-end registry services for companies and territories acquiring a custom TLD.
At present, Afnic provides back-end support for 13 generic domains (gTLDs): .paris, .bzh, .alsace,.corsica, .sncf, .mma, .ovh, .leclerc, bostik, .total, .aquarelle, .lancaster and .museum.
Our social commitments
As the manager of a common good, Afnic is actively involved in general interest projects.
Because the digital transformation is a national challenge for competitiveness and citizenship, we have developed the ‘Réussir en .fr’ (‘Succeed with .fr’) programme, which supports VSEs/SMEs with their online presence, in partnership with France Num (government digital transformation portal) and numerous private and institutional players. In parallel, we also run a specific programme designed for people aged between 16 and 25, training and supporting young ambassadors of the .fr.
Because the benefits of a common good must accrue to society as a whole, the bulk of the revenues from managing .fr are donated to the Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity, which funds digital inclusion projects throughout the country.
Because we are aware of the environmental impact of digital activities, we conducted our first carbon footprint assessment in 2013, together with initial measures (new travel policy, responsible purchasing, move to more energy-efficient premises, etc.). A comprehensive analysis of the registry activity’s carbon footprint is under way and will lead to a complete action plan for making .fr a green TLD.
The story so far
Afnic was established in 1997 as an offshoot of Inria, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, which had managed top-level domain names for the .fr geographic region since 1986.
In 2001, the .re domain was opened for Réunion, followed by other French overseas territories.
Access to a domain name has become more and more simple over the years: the requirement for a “right to a name” (justification required by an official document) was dropped in 2004, the .fr was opened up to private individuals in 2006 and in 2010 to French citizens resident abroad.
In 2011, Afnic registered the two millionth .fr domain name.
In 2012, there was a change of rules and a change of governance. Having had its designation as the registry for the .fr ccTLD renewed, Afnic signed a five-year agreement with the State.
The following years saw the opening of new domains. With the support of Afnic, the .paris and .bzh obtained approval from ICANN in 2013. The association is constantly evolving, with a certified quality policy (EFQM in 2015, ISO 27001 in 2016) and the development of new services (Zonemaster, Abuse Report, etc.).
Afnic is also opening up to a wider public, with the launch of the ‘Réussir en. fr’ programme in 2014, making the .fr data available in open data and the creation of the Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity in 2015.
In 2017, Afnic was once again confirmed as the registry for the .fr ccTLD.
In 2019, Afnic was declared an operator of an essential service, defined as a “service the interruption of which would have a significant impact on the functioning of the economy or of society”.
In 2020, just a few weeks apart, Afnic celebrated both 34 years of the .fr and the 3.5 million mark for .fr domain names registered.