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How much does a .CA domain cost?

By Erin Hutchison
Content Marketing and Social Media Specialist

How much does a domain cost to register? What value does it bring to your business?

Short answer: You’ll typically pay $10-$20 per year for a .CA domain name.

But aren’t some domains free? And don’t some companies pay thousands of dollars to obtain the rights to a domain that was previously registered?

There’s a lot more to domain name prices than you might think. Let us try to clear things up for you to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Who do you buy a domain name from?

CIRA is the .CA registry – we set the “wholesale” price of .CA domains, but you can’t actually buy a domain name directly from us.

Domains are purchased from a company called a registrar (view our list of certified .CA registrars) or a reseller (many DIY website builders are resellers).

How long can I register a domain name for?

Unlike cast iron skillets, diamonds, or MEC backpacks*, which are one-time purchases that you can keep and use forever, “buying” a domain name is an annual subscription.

Your subscription registers the domain under your name as the registrant so you can do what you want with it: build a website, use it for a custom email address, or just let it sit there until your inspiration finally hits.

You can register a .CA domain for one to ten years at a time. You can renew your registration any time before the domain expiry date. If you don’t renew, you’ll be letting it go and will lose all of the brand value created, and someone else can register it.

*We are not sponsored by MEC. They just have really quality, long-lasting backpacks.

Can I get a domain for free?

If you’re just testing out an idea and messing around with building a website, most of the big DIY website builders offer free plans. You can even get a domain name, but it will look something like this:


If you want to share your website, blog, or ecommerce store with the world, the risk of relying on these free subdomains could mean losing creditably from your website visitors and potential customers. Compare that to the more professional and simple like,

What is the value of a domain name?

Landing a domain name that is short, memorable, and on-brand is a critical step in legitimizing your business.

Let’s be real here, with all of the costs associated with setting up a business, a domain that’s $15 per year is a nominal cost to pay for getting a professional online address, enhance search engine positioning and increasing brand awareness.

Can’t figure out what would make a great domain name for your website? Find tips and examples in our free guide.

Why are there so many different prices for domains?

  • Domain name availability: This factor contributes to the largest variation in domain pricing. If someone already owns the domain name (and domains are typically available on a first-come, first-served basis), the cost of acquiring it from them in the aftermarket can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. By contrast, a domain that’s up for grabs (a combination of letters, numbers and hyphens that no one currently has registered) is just a standard price to obtain.
  • Registrar pricing models: For the same reason that a large poutine can cost $10 at some chip trucks and $18 at others, different registrars set different prices. Many registrars provide other product offerings, like website building services or email tools. These companies may use domain names as a loss leader by giving them away for free or highly discounted in order to make additional revenue on hosting, email, security or other services. Other registrars may run more simple operations that only sell domain names. Shop around, do your research, and find the one that meets your needs at a fair price point.
  • Sales or promotions. Some registrars offer a wide range of promotions and sales, while others stick to no-nonsense pricing. One common type of promotion is introductory pricing for the first year, where typically you commit to a second year at a higher price. Be sure to read the fine print!
  • Add-ons and bundles: As you make your way through the digital checkout line, you’ll typically get the option to add on a few related services to make your domain name useful or to protect it. Some registrars offer things like email, SSL certificates, WHOIS privacy protection and hosting at an additional cost. Some bake it into the domain price, so it might seem higher than usual, but maybe you’re getting more functionality included.
  • Auto-renew: Under an auto-renew option, the registrar will automatically extend your subscription (and charge your credit card on file) when your domain approaches expiry. This can be a convenient option if you plan to commit to your domain name for an extended period. Some registrars include auto-renew in first time sign-up packages, while others require it to be added manually, so it’s important to know when your expiry date is and read the fine print.
  • The wholesale price: As we mentioned, the registry sets the wholesale price. For .CA, it’s $10.50 (CAD) and a .com is currently $9.59 (US) equivalent to ~$13 (CAD). Some specialty top-level domains have a significantly higher wholesale price. Fun fact: Since CIRA is a non-profit registry, a portion of each .ca domain registration and renewal is donated to projects that help improve Canada’s internet.

A great domain name provides value to your business

Long story short, if you’re looking to build your brand and are planning on having a presence online, be that a website or a unique branded email address, investing in a domain name is the way to go.

Not only is your domain name your unique identity, it’ll also help you find customers and make sales.

Search for an available .CA domain name to get started today

About the author
Erin Hutchison

Erin brings to CIRA a background of marketing experience in higher education and the not-for-profit sector. In 2015, she participated in ISOC’s Youth@IGF Programme and traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to attend the IGF. She has a Bachelor of International Business from Carleton University.