What is Cloudflare Registrar?

Cloudflare Registrar charges the wholesale prices that registries charge for domain names, instead of artificially marking up the price like other registrars.

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Cloudflare Registrar

Learning Objectives

After reading this article you will be able to:

  • Understand what Cloudflare Registrar is
  • Learn why Cloudflare wanted to offer a domain registration service
  • Learn the steps for transferring a domain name to Cloudflare Registrar

What is Cloudflare Registrar?

Cloudflare Registrar is a service for registering domain names that doesn't mark up the price for doing so. It offers essentially the same services as other domain name registrars but without markups, without increased renewal fees, and with some additional security features. In essence, Cloudflare Registrar is free – the only cost is what's charged by registries and by ICANN.

Why does Cloudflare offer domain names at no cost?

Domain registrars sometimes try to take advantage of customers by luring them in with low initial registration fees, then marking up the prices for renewal hugely because customers often have no choice but to renew. However, registrars are essentially acting as middlemen, and the prices they charge are commonly disproportionate to the value they actually provide.

Cloudflare is on a mission to build a better Internet, and offering domain names without marked-up prices is one way to ensure that anyone with an idea can take advantage of the power of the Internet. Anyone should be able to start a business, promote an organization, or build a web application without worrying they'll be charged unnecessarily for keeping their domain name. For this reason, Cloudflare passes along the prices charged by top-level domains and ICANN without any additional fees.

How is Cloudflare able to do this?

All that is needed to register owners of domain names is a relationship with registries and the ability to send some commands to an API. From a technical perspective, the effort involved is minimal.

Cloudflare built its own internal domain name registrar well before offering Cloudflare Registrar, in order to keep our domains secure. This made it relatively simple to transition into offering domain registration to the world.

Aside from cost, how does Cloudflare Registrar compare to other registrars?

For most users, Cloudflare Registrar offers the same service as other registrars. The only difference is in price. Cloudflare Registrar includes security features such as DNSSEC and two-factor authentication, also for free.

For certain enterprise users, Cloudflare offers much more customizable domain name services.

Is it possible to transfer a domain name from another registrar to Cloudflare Registrar?

The goal is to make it as easy as possible for customers of another registrar to transfer their domain names to Cloudflare Registrar. Customers can take the following steps to start the process:

  1. Let Cloudflare know which domain will be transferred. Cloudflare will check to make sure that the domain is available for transfer.
  2. Unlock the domain from the old registrar. Domains are typically 'locked' to prevent unauthorized users from transferring them. Registrants should have the ability to disable this lock.
  3. Obtain an authorization code. The old registrar should provide an authorization code for the transfer, and Cloudflare will use this code to confirm that the transfer is legitimate.

More details can be found in this blog post about Cloudflare Registrar, or on the official Cloudflare Registrar page.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is simply the name of a website. For example, Cloudflare manages the domain name 'Cloudflare.com,' along with a number of subdomains, such as 'blog.cloudflare.com' and 'communityinfo.cloudflare.com.' In order for a user or an organization to be able to use a domain name, the domain name has to be registered.

What is a registrar? How does domain registration work?

There are three parties involved in the process of registering a domain name: the registry, the registrar, and the registrant. The registry actually issues the domain names; the registrant is the user or company that 'buys' or registers the domain names. In between these two parties is the registrar: the party that acts as a go-between for the registry and the registrant, and that records who owns the domain.