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“WHOIS” is an online directory service that allows people to look up information about domain names in Canada.

Find details like these during your WHOIS lookup:

  • Status (meaning if a domain is available or registered)
  • Creation, expiry and updated dates
  • Registrar information
  • Registrant information*
  • Who owns the domain
  • Administrative, Technical and Billing Contacts*

*The registrant name, along with administrative and technical contact information of non-individual registrants, like corporations, is displayed by default. The registrant name, along with administrative and technical contact information of individuals, meaning Canadian citizens or permanent residents, isn’t displayed in WHOIS.

How do I contact a registrant?

If you wish to contact a registrant whose information is not displayed in WHOIS, you may use the online Message Delivery form which will allow CIRA to send a message to a domain registrant on your behalf maintaining their anonymity.

Contact a registrant

Curious to learn more?

The WHOIS domain lookup, and the world of domains as a whole, can be complicated. We’ve gathered your most pressing questions to help break it all down  

WHOIS is an online directory service that allows people to look up information about .CA domain names. CIRA maintains a WHOIS directory which permits queries to the .CA (Canada’s country code top-level domain) registry database. It provides information such as the domain registrant’s contact details, registration and expiration dates and the domain registrar. 

The thing is, while all top-level domains use a tool called WHOIS, there might be some key differences between what information is made public. 

Canada’s WHOIS database is operated by us, CIRA! You may know us by our given name, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. Learn more about the team behind Canada’s internet. 

One of the benefits of registering a .CA (besides showing off that your website is proudly Canadian) is that Canadian citizens and permanent residents can select the individual Canadian presence requirement (CPR) category when registering, automatically benefiting from free privacy protection in WHOIS. 

When someone searches for a domain that was registered as an individual, this is what shows up in our WHOIS results: 

Personal information about the holder of this domain name is not available in the search results because the registration is privacy protected. 

For those of you who are registering a domain and choosing a non-individual CPR category (that is, you’re registering as a business), privacy protection may be offered by your registrar, either included in the domain price or for an extra fee. 

Read more about Canadian presence requirements. 

Yes, .com may be the most popular top-level domain (TLD) out there…but we could spend days extolling the many, very-real benefits of choosing .CA! Here’s the short version. You should register a .CA TLD if you’re: 

  • Operating a Canadian business targeted to Canadian customers. Canadian presence requirements mean that only real Canadian people and organizations can register a .CA domain. Having a .CA domain is especially appropriate if your business offers products and services confined to a specific geographic area—like a Calgary, AB-based restaurant, for example. And if you need a bit more inspiration from Canadian businesses that have fully let their Canuck flag fly with a .CA domain,there are plenty of success stories to be read! 
  • Selling online and shipping to Canadians in Canadian currency. Canadian customers tend to gravitate towards businesses with .CA TLDs, as there’s peace-of-mind knowing they’re going to be charged in Canadian dollars for their goods. What’s more—customers like knowing you ship within Canada, so they’re not going to get dinged for additional cross-border duties and taxes. 
  • Looking to soak up all those tasty Canadian SEO benefits. Having a .CA TLD tells search engines like Google that your website and/or business is Canadian, so your site will get served up in search engine results pages (SERPs) when customers search for businesses like yours within Canada. Learn more about how and why Google gives an advantage to .CA domains in search. 
  • Out of luck and your desired .com domain is already taken. When you go with .CA, there’s a better chance that your short, memorable exact-match domain name will be available. While .com is globally recognized, it’s also one of the oldest TLD options. The odds that your domain name is already in use are far greater. 

Find out if a domain name is available by performing a search in our online domain search tool! 

If it’s not available, you can: 

How do I register a domain name once I’ve chosen one? 

Here’s how to register your chosen domain name: 

  1. Do a search. Find out if a domain is available for registration by using our search tool. 
  2. Choose a registrar. A registrar is a company that sells domain names and related services like web hosting. Select a registrar that meets your needs and price point, depending on what you want to do with your domain.  View a full list of .CA Certified registrars. 
  3. Complete your registration. Once you have selected a registrar, you will complete the registration through their platform. You will be required to meet certain presence requirements in order to register a .CA. 

Learn more domain registration tips here. 

Sometimes a domain name you want is already registered by someone else. Here are your options: 

  1. Choose an alternative domain to launch your website with. As you’re building your business, get online quickly with an alternative domain, and then continue to pursue obtaining the ideal domain and, if you’re successful, make the switch later. 
  2. Check the expiry date of the registered domain. When you find out a domain is registered through CIRA’s domain search, the Domain info tab displays the expiry date. If the expiry date is recent or coming up soon, keep checking to see if the domain you want gets added to a To-be-released (TBR) session. You can either attempt to scoop it up during a TBR session (especially important for premium domains) or you can wait and see if it makes it to the next phase of the domain name life cycle, from TBR into general availability at which point the domain may be registered through a .CA registrar using the standard process.
  3. Purchase the domain from the current registrant.  You can contact the domain registrant directly using our message delivery form. 

A good domain name isn’t just a digital address; it’s your golden ticket to standing out in the online crowd. It’s the beacon of credibility, the linchpin of your digital identity. On the flip side, a poorly chosen domain name? Let’s just say it’s the VIP pass to the realm of online anonymity. So, what’s the big deal with a name, you ask? Trust us, it’s a whole lot more than just letters and dots—it’s the secret to digital success. 

Here are a few tips on choosing a good domain name: 

  1. Keep your domain name simple and brief. Aim for a sweet spot of between five and 14 characters. 
  2. Make it pronounceable and typable. Even if folks aren’t actually saying your website name out loud, it’s still a good idea to make it easy to say and spell. People won’t bother with a wild goose chase if they can’t nail your name on the first try. Keep it simple and and straightforward to make sure your customers can find you without turning into Google search detectives.
  3. Make your domain name memorable and a match for your brand. Try using a catchy call to action as your domain name or a memorable acronym or abbreviation of your business name. 
  4. Use keywords and/or locations. Incorporating keywords related to your business or hobby can be a great way to help users (and search engines like Google) understand what your site is all about, as well as what you do or offer, at a quick glance. 

Registering a domain name is a crucial step in establishing your online presence, and avoiding common pitfalls is essential. Here are some key mistakes to steer clear of: 

  • Overly complex or unmemorable names. Opt for a domain name that is easy to spell, pronounce and remember. Avoid complex combinations of words, hyphens, or numbers, as they may confuse visitors and make your domain less memorable. 
  • Ignoring future growth. Your domain should accommodate future business expansion. Avoid limiting your brand by choosing a name too specific to current products or services. Think long-term to ensure your domain remains relevant as your business evolves. 
  • Skipping trademark checks. One common mistake is neglecting to check for registered trademarks associated with the chosen domain name. Registering a domain that infringes on existing trademarks can lead to legal consequences. Always conduct a thorough trademark search to mitigate this risk. 
  • Forgetting the social media check. Ensure that your chosen domain name is available and viable on major social media platforms. Consistency across your online presence is vital for brand recognition, so check the availability of matching usernames. 
  • Letting your domain expire. If you don’t renew your domain name and let it expire, it’ll eventually be put back on the market. That means anyone—including your competitors, or an arch nemeses you’ve made—could purchase and claim your domain name. If you are actively using your domain name, say for a website or a professional email, not renewing your domain name could cause disruptions to your digital assets. Learn more about why you should renew your domain. 

The decision to use your business name as the domain name involves careful consideration of various factors. Here are some points to help guide your decision-making process: 

  • Brand consistency: Using your business name as the domain reinforces your brand identity and makes it easier for customers to find and remember your website.  
  • Credibility and trust: A domain name that matches your business name lends credibility and trust to your online presence. It signals professionalism and can positively impact customer perception. 
  • SEO considerations: If your business name naturally contains keywords related to your products or services, using it as the domain name could contribute to better search engine visibility. 
  • Branding flexibility: Consider the potential for future business expansion and diversification. If you anticipate evolving your product or service offerings, a broader domain name that goes beyond your specific business name might provide more flexibility. 
  • Availability: Verify the availability of your business name as a domain. If your business name is unique, it’s more likely to be available. However, common names may pose challenges, and alternatives or modifications may need to be considered. 
  • Legal and trademark issues: Ensure that your business name is not infringing on existing trademarks, and check the availability of the domain to avoid potential legal issues. Conduct thorough research to confirm that your chosen domain is legally sound. Learn more about trademarks and domain names. 

Ultimately, the decision to use your business name as the domain name should align with your overall branding strategy, business goals, and online presence objectives. 

Choose the right domain name extension. While “.com” is popular and widely recognized, other extensions can offer unique benefits. 

If your website primarily serves a Canadian audience or if your business is based in Canada, a .CA domain extension is ideal. It signals to users that your content or services are specifically relevant to the Canadian market. Learn more about what .CA can do for your online presence. 

If you’re a business, it’s recommended that you get your business name as a domain under multiple extensions to protect your brand in the digital space. It prevents others from registering a similar domain that could potentially create confusion among users. 

Be sure to register your .CA domain name yourself. This tidbit probably applies more to business owners, but you shouldn’t let a third-party—like a marketing agency, or your third cousin Stevie—register your .CA domain for you. Why? This can put you in a potentially sticky situation if you ever break up with your agency (or send Stevie packing) and lose access to the account with the “keys” to your domain name. 

Registering multiple domains can lead to discounts. Generally, we recommend registering multiple variations of your domain name—especially if there are common misspellings (or alternate spellings) that a competitor or imitator might scoop up. Aside from protecting your brand, registering multiple domains can lead to discounted pricing—depending on the registrar you go with. 

Now that we’ve bestowed our wisdom upon you, get your domain registration journey started by searching from our list of CIRA-certified registrars! Then, we’ll show you how to optimize your shiny new .CA. 

If your business name is relatively generic or if it is already registered, consider adding keywords to your domain —it could help your website’s performance in a search. 

Strategically, adding keywords to your domain name can potentially have two main SEO benefits: 

1. Higher rankings 

According to Moz, an industry-leading SEO software firm, a well-chosen, keyword-rich domain can have positive implications on your ranking, as search engines treat domains as one of their many ranking factors. It’s important to note choosing a keyword-rich domain alone won’t improve your rankings, but rather it is just one piece of an integrated, well-executed SEO strategy. 

2. Increased click-through rate 

When a user performs a search in Google, the keywords that they’ve used are bolded in the results. By bolding these terms, Google is essentially highlighting the relevancy of these results to the searchers query, which often leads to more clicks in a search result. In turn, more clicks can ultimately help your site rank better for those keywords (given that you have a high-quality site that delivers on the needs of your visitors). 

Not sure what kind of keywords to include, or how many? Check out these helpful tips for including keywords in your domain name. 

Your .CA domain name can be anywhere from 2 characters to 63 characters long.  

The ideal length for a domain name is generally considered to be short, memorable, and easy to spell.  

Using your own name as a domain name can be a good idea in various situations, depending on your goals and the nature of your online presence.  

If you are establishing a personal brand or online portfolio, using your own name as the domain can be a powerful way to showcase your skills, achievements, and personal brand identity. For professionals such as freelancers, consultants, or individuals in creative fields, it allows you to have a personalized website for potential clients or employers to learn more about you. 

However, if you are establishing a business or project with a distinct brand identity that goes beyond your personal name, you might want to consider a domain that reflects that brand. Learn how to pick a great business name. 

In general, domain names cannot be directly changed once registered. Once a domain is registered, it is associated with a specific set of characters, and altering those characters would essentially mean registering a new domain. 

However, if you are interested in changing the domain name associated with your online presence, you might consider the following steps: 

  • Register a New Domain: Register a new domain name with the desired changes. Keep in mind that this will be a separate domain, and you will need to go through the registration process for the new name. 
  • Redirect or Forward the Old Domain: After registering the new domain, you can set up a redirect or forwarding service. This way, when users enter the old domain in their browsers, they will be automatically directed to the new domain. 
  • Update Links and References: If your website has been indexed by search engines or if you have shared the old domain in various places, update links and references to reflect the new domain. 

There is no limit to how many times you can change your domain name. However, keep in mind that changing your domain name can have implications for search engine optimization (SEO) and brand recognition, so it’s a decision that should be made thoughtfully.