I’ve mentioned that there is an inherent risk involved with registering a domain using a ccTLD, however, I really haven’t gone into depth on this subject. (If you need a reminder, I explain what a ccTLD is in Domains 101: The Basics)
While the .com TLD is still the most commonly used, many people have enjoyed creating new and often creative domains using ccTLDs such as Call.Me or TheDailyWh.AT. Oftentimes people do do this without realizing even where the code is based out of, or that it’s even a country code based domain.
Not knowing what country a ccTLD is out of that you’re considering or own really increases your risk. For one thing, you don’t know what restrictions they may have on it.
For example, to use the .ca ccTLD, you need to meet certain Canadian presence requirements. If the Canadian government doesn’t think you’ve met those requirements, they can and will take your domain. In some countries, even less cause may be needed.
Not all ccTLDs have presence requirements, but several do. But what happens to your domain and possibly your business if the ccTLD you’re using is based out of a volatile country? Just because the current government is open to allowing other nationalities to use their ccTLD for a fee doesn’t mean the subsequent government will.
On a darker note, what happens if those in power see value in your domain they didn’t see before? Or if they don’t like how you’re using it? If you think it can’t be taken from you, you’re deluding yourself. Depending on the country and how you’re using it, they may not even have to work very hard to justify their taking it. It was probably clearly spelled out in the requirements you had to agree to in order to register the domain, that if you’re like most people, skipped reading and simply agreed to.
Vb.ly made headlines today because Libya revoked their domain rights citing Sharia Law. Basically, what it boils down to is Libya said vb.ly, a url shortener, was being used to distribute porn which violates Libyan law. (You can read more about it on Forbes , BBC or TechCrunch just to name a few).
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t consider using a ccTLD as part of your business or marketing strategy. You should just be aware of what the additional risks you may face are. In some instances, the risk of using a certain ccTLD may outweigh the rewards and in other cases you’ll find the risk low. Either way, if you’re using or considering a ccTLD, don’t assume your legal rights to it.