A domain name registrar is an organization that manages the registration of website domain names, i.e., GoDaddy, Tucows, 1&1, etc. Registrars should be certified by a generic top-level domain (gTLD) or a country code top-level domain (ccTLD). This is done in accordance to the guidelines of the designated domain name registries.
Since 1999, each registrar must be supported under a shared registration system according to the U.S. government’s insistent push to promote competition for domain names under a single shared registry. Following this, every registrar must be accredited under ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, having to pay a flat fee of $4,000 plus an additional variable fee. This enables users to choose between various registrars for differing services at variable prices.
Registrar companies such as GoDaddy provide a database lookup of available domain names for a range of prices. Any open unregistered domain name is available for the taking at not only GoDaddy but through other registrars such as Tucows as well, eliminating monopolies on registration.
Domain registration information is maintained by the domain registry (database), which are under contract with domain registrars in order to hold public registration of domain names. This registered name makes the registrar a designated registrar under the choice of the end-user. This designated registrar may modify the information about the domain name through the registry services’ central database. Most of the registered names come at a limit too, allowing a user to select a name for up to 10 years at most through any single registration.
Whenever a registrar registers a .com name for a user there is an annual fee sent to VeriSign, as they are the registry operator for all .com domains. Generally, registering a domain name costs money, but a variety of registrars will offer to waive that fee when it’s registered through and packaged with a web hosting service.