How much does a domain name cost?
Choosing a domain name is an exciting step, but paying for one often comes with its own set of hurdles. Here’s the rundown on the charges, and some hidden costs to watch out for
There’s no two ways about it – a domain is an essential online business purchase. While a quick search may offer you lots of providers to choose from, there can be more to calculating the cost of a domain name than the initial prices suggest.
We’ve researched all the big companies (and some not so big ones too), leaving no ‘domain pricing’ stone unturned. We’ve found that most companies offer great introductory offers, but can sting you with hidden costs and higher renewal fees. Read on for all the info you need to know…
From the table above, we can see that pricing is generally in a similar region for comparable domain names. However, while .com and .org extensions can cost a similar amount, a .co.uk domain can, on occasion, cost considerably more – if offered at all.
Alternatively, a low introduction fee can be offered for domain names, but this requires a longer lock-in than other providers. Longer registration lengths can also incur higher fees. And while you may be shopping for a domain name for a UK website, don’t be surprised if it’s advertised in dollars.
How much does it cost to buy a domain name?
Generally, you can expect to pay in the region of £7-£12 for a new domain registration.
As a business, it’s likely that you’ll want to buy a new domain name. However, it’s possible to purchase existing domain names, such as those that are expired or pre-existing, highly sought-after domain names. As well as this, you can negotiate to buy a domain name that isn’t listed for sale.
While you might consider these options if there’s a particular domain name that you intend to use but isn’t available, the cost of a domain name that’s already in existence is likely to be considerably more expensive than registering a new one.
Domain name prices can vary significantly, with very cheap options possible (e.g. around £1, or for free when included with hosting or other web packages). And at the other end of the scale, the sky’s the limit for the most in-demand names, which can sell for millions of pounds!
Which factors contribute to the cost of a domain name?
The registration fee isn’t the only charge to consider when calculating your overall domain name cost. Pay attention to any hidden or extra fees, including:
Domain names are purchased for a set period of time, e.g. one year, three years etc. When the term length finishes, you’ll be required to pay a domain name renewal cost. While this is usually similar to the initial registration cost, some providers’ renewal charges can be a lot higher than the initial payment.
For example, A2 Hosting’s pricing offers registrations and renewals for the same amount.
By contrast, with Domain.com, a .com registration costs $9.99 (£7.85) per year, whereas renewal costs $13.99 (£10.86) per year.
As well as this, many providers offer auto-renewals, taking the stress out of having to do it yourself. But if you’re uncertain about a domain name, then assess if auto-renewal is the best option for you. Also, auto-renewal can be an unwelcome surprise, particularly if the charges are considerably higher than the first year fees.
If you own a domain name, the registrar must provide the owner’s contact information – including name, address (email and physical), and phone number – to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This information is stored in the WHOIS database, which is a publicly available resource.
To keep this information private, though, most providers offer privacy protection for an extra fee. Your personal information is still provided to the registrar, but theirs is then listed on the database – particularly useful for avoiding spam emails and phone calls.
Some examples include Domain.com, which offers privacy protection for $8.99 (£6.98) per year, and HostGator, which charges $14.95 (£11.61) per year. DreamHost goes one step further, offering privacy protection free of charge.
If you already own a domain name, it's possible to transfer it to another provider. There are a number of reasons for transferring domain names, such as swapping to a provider that offers better prices, or one with superior features or support.
If this is something you want to do, or think you might want to in the future, then it’s worth finding out if a provider charges for this service. After all, you wouldn’t want to get to the transfer stage, only to receive an unexpected fee.
GoDaddy transfers are charged at a flat rate, plus the cost of ICANN registration, if required. You’re allowed to keep any time left on your current registration, and a free year of registration is available per transfer.
The cost of domain names can be affected by the type of extension, also known as the top level domain (TLD). There are two types of TLDs: generic top level domain (gTLD) and country code top level domains (ccTLD).
Most registrars offer a minimum term length of one year. If you want to secure your domain name for a longer period of time, it's usually possible to select a longer term length, with some providers offering up to 10 years.
While it’s reassuring to know that your domain name is protected for a set period of time, be sure to balance this with the costs of an extended term length, as the price increases can be quite significant.
Where can you buy domain names?
There are so many domain name providers on the market to choose from. Our top picks include:
- A2 Hosting – offers hosting services as well as domain names
- Bluehost – in addition to domain names, Bluehost can provide a range of hosting services, including dedicated WordPress hosting
- Domain.com – domains, website builder, email, web hosting, and security services are all available
- DreamHost – another ‘one stop shop’ provider, with WordPress, hosting, website, domains, and email solutions to choose from
- GoDaddy – a well-known brand in the space, offering hosting, email and websites, as well as domain names
- HostGator – a provider with a range of hosting solutions, as well as domains and website builder services
Some domain name providers offer combined domain name and hosting services. If you’re interested in this, check out our article on the best web hosting for small businesses.
Or, to learn more about why you might consider web hosting in the first place, our guide to website hosting for small businesses offers useful insight.
If you’re building your own website, then you might want to use the same provider for your domain name too, if available. Read our article on the best website builders for small businesses for more information.
If you just want to stick with domain name purchases, then the table below lists prices for six of the most popular providers. It highlights the prices for some of the most common and relevant domain name extensions:
Note that the prices in brackets are based on USD to GBP currency at the time of writing.
Can you buy domain names that already exist?
So you’ve got an idea of what you want your domain name to be, and are searching through a selection of providers to buy it – only to find that it’s already taken!
Unfortunately, this can happen if you choose a very popular domain name, or if someone else has already registered your preferred format. However, in this instance, there are several options available to you.
Aftermarket domain names
If you think a domain name sounds particularly perfect, then it’s possible that someone else has thought of it too – and bought it!
Some of the most popular domain names have been sold for a not so small fortune. For example, ‘business.com’ was sold for $7.5 million, while ‘insurance.com’ went for an eye-watering $35.6 million.
While these are exceptional examples, it’s important to point out that re-sold domain names are still likely to be extremely expensive: you could expect to pay in the thousands for anything remotely premium. Not only this, but it’s likely that you’ll have to go through an auction, bidding or negotiation process, as well as use a broker.
A domain name is an important business purchase, so it’s worth taking the time to work out how much one could cost you. New domain registrations are typically in the £7-£12 price bracket.
However, since this is an approximate cost for a one year registration, you’ll also need to factor in domain name renewal costs, plus extra charges like privacy protection. You'll also need to consider the type of domain you want, and how long you want it for, as this can also influence the cost.
Aftermarket domain names can give you access to competitive domain names, or help you if the name you want is already in use, although this can be an expensive option.
Fortunately, registering a new domain name is quick, easy, and cheap. Some of the top domain name providers include:
Concerned about the cost of domain names? We’ll answer some of your most common questions here.
1. How much does it cost to register a domain name?
Registering a domain name involves the initial cost to secure your chosen domain name, along with additional charges for privacy protection and renewals so that you can continue to own it.
For example, domain name prices are often in the £7-12 per year price bracket. Renewals can be charged at the same amount as registrations, as is the case with A2 Hosting. Or, they can incur a higher fee, such as Domain.com, which charges $9.99 (£7.85) per year to register a .com domain name and $13.99 (£10.86) per year to renew it.
Learn more with our guide on how to buy and register a domain name.
2. How much does a domain name cost per year?
There isn't a set answer here, as providers offer domains at a range of price points. You could expect to pay in the region of £7-12 per year for a new domain registration.
It’s possible to pay very little (or nothing at all) for a domain name. Conversely, popular domain names can cost thousands or even millions of pounds – see the dedicated section above for more detail.
3. Can you buy a domain name permanently?
Domain names are available to buy for a defined period of time: this is usually one year, although longer timeframes are common. That being said, it’s not a one-off purchase, so you’ll need to renew your registration to retain ownership of your chosen domain name.
4. What’s the difference between registrars and resellers?
Domain name registrars are ICANN-accredited and certified organisations that offer domain names for purchase. Resellers don’t have this accreditation, and instead have agreements with the registrars who offer the services that they’re re-selling. Visit the ICANN domain name registration process page for more detailed information.