Whether you’re a private individual or an organisation, take the time to choose the right domain name before creating it. After all, it’s going to represent you on the internet. Whether a family name, a company name or an association of key words, a domain name necessarily conveys meaning and will contribute to promoting an idea or an identity.
How to choose a domain name
The domain name is a key element of your identity. If well chosen, it will contribute to your project’s image and profile. On your communication tools (business cards, brochures, etc.), it’s the first point of contact with your prospective customers and business partners. Note that the ‘first come, first served’ rule applies here, so we advise you to register it right at the start of your project. A few simple recommendations to help you with this step:
- Make it short and easy to remember
- Check the readability of your character string. A hyphen or an accent may improve readability (example: www.reussiren.fr vs. www.réussir-en.fr)
- Consider including some key words to provide useful information to your intended audience on your activity or location, for example
- Test a number of different proposals with interested parties to choose the one that best fits your project
- Depending on your project, consider registering a few spelling variants to cover any input errors and avoid someone else’s registering a domain name too similar to yours.
Already have an idea for a name? If so, Afnic’s Whois directory lets you immediately check its availability.
Search for a domain name
You want to create your internet address, buy a domain name, check its availability or find information on an already registered domain name, use our Whois tool:FIND A REGISTRAR
As Registry and in accordance with the French Post and Electronic Communication Law, Afnic has to collect from registrars the data needed to identify domain name holders in order to constitute the whois database (whois database).
The whois database is protected by the provisions of the French Law of the 1st of July 1998 transposing the European Directive of the 11th of March 1996 on database legal protection in the Intellectual Property Code.
The French state is the only entity to hold the producing rights of the databases as substantial investment, quantitative as much as qualitative, that were used to achieve this database. Afnic has the license to use and protect the rights on the whois database. Complete or partial reproduction and/or use of the AFNIC's database without the express permission of the AFNIC is strictly forbidden. Afnic reserves the right to initiate any procedure of any kind to protect the database whois from fraudulent uses.
Any breach to these rules can carry penal sanctions as counterfeit, without prejudice of a potential damages request from the AFNIC. The whois database user commits to use the published data according to the laws and rules in effect. Moreover, the user is bound to respect the personal data protection framework and in particular, the Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 applicable from 25 May 2018 (hereinafter 'the European Data Protection Regulation "or" GDPR"). The infringement of the personal data protection framework can carry penal sanctions. As the user will access personal information, the user must refrain from collecting or misuse this information. In a more general way, the user must refrain from any act likely to infringe the privacy or reputation of individuals.
The new French geographic domains
Afnic is also the back-end registry for four new French GeoTLDs: .paris, .bzh, .corsica and .alsace. These new domains offer opportunities for personalisation that may make sense for your project. For more information on registration under these domains, we encourage you to consult the respective websites of these TLDs:
A charter to comply with and some terms to avoid
French laws and the Naming Charter require you to follow a few simple rules when choosing a domain name, for example:
- don’t use terms that might impinge on public order or morality or rights guaranteed by the Constitution or the law,
- do not use terms that might infringe on intellectual property rights or personality rights, unless you can show that you have a legitimate interest and are acting in good faith,
- make sure the name is not identical or similar to that of the French Republic, a regional or local authority or group of regional or local authorities or a national or local public institution or service, unless you can show that you have a legitimate interest and are acting in good faith,
- make sure the name is not already registered with Afnic (to do so, consult our page ‘Find a domain name’),
- make sure the name conforms to the rules of syntax specified in the charter,
- do not include terms on the list subject to prior review.
In summary, your domain name must not impinge on the rights of other persons, businesses or institutions. Such may be the case if the name chosen can be confused with a domain name already assigned, a person’s family name or a brand. Adding a key word is often enough to remove the ambiguity and achieve visible differentiation on the internet.
Terms subject to prior review
Afnic maintains a constantly updated list of names the use of which in a domain name must be backed up with reasons prior to any request for registration. Afnic may reject their registration, through the intermediary of the requested registrar, if there is evidence of use in bad faith and the absence of a legitimate interest.
This list is non-exhaustive, as the mere fact of publishing some could offend public sensitivity, and is subject to change. However, our members and clients can request a copy of the list by sending a dedicated form subject to its being used confidentially and in accordance with Afnic’s rules, and on the understanding that Afnic cannot be held liable for any dispute or action in respect of its use. It will be sent by ordinary post or email with the exception of the list of names of French communes which is available directly on the INSEE website.
Special characters accepted by Afnic
It is possible to register domain names under .fr, .re, .yt, .pm, .wf and .tf including characters other than the ‘basic’ letters (A to Z), digits (0 to 9) and hyphen.
Table of the 30 characters available for the TLDs managed by Afnic
These ‘natural language’ domain names reflect users’ manner of expression and pronunciation and help affirm an identity or brand.
Since May 3, 2012, it is possible to register domain names under .fr, .re, yt, .pm, .wf and .tf comprising characters other than the “simple” letters (A to Z), digits (0 to 9), or hyphen.
How to register/create your domain name
Domain names are not registered directly with Afnic but through its 400 registrars in France and worldwide. A registrar is a company that provides services (ISP, hoster, web agency, etc.) accredited by Afnic for the creation of your domain names under the TLDs that it manages. The registrar is the intermediary between yourself and Afnic for all requests for registration of a domain name.
Most registrars offer an online form for you to provide the necessary information for them to process your request. Registration of domain names under the TLDs managed by Afnic is available 24/7, subject to validity, thanks to an automated service made available to registrars by Afnic. For each request, Afnic invoices a licence fee to the registrar. The registrar is free to set its charges depending on the associated services.
It only takes a few minutes to register, protect and publish a domain name in the Whois directory. If immediate activation is requested, this is effected on average within one hour of the registration’s approval.