The Domain Name Commission is calling for submissions to its proposal to extend the .nz domain name space by allowing anybody to register domain names at the "second level". This would mean that, for example, baldwins.nz would be a valid domain available to register. At present, .nz domains can only be registered at the "third level". For instance, baldwins.co.nz.
Historically, there has not been widespread support for changing .nz to allow registrations at the second level. However, there is a growing trend internationally to permit second level registrations. For example, there are now over two dozen countries that allow registrations at both the second and third levels. The introduction of second level domains, therefore, allows New Zealand to adopt international best practice.
However, if the proposal is implemented, the annual domain registration cost for many organisations may double. This is because organisations will have to pay for two domain names (both baldwins.co.nz and baldwins.nz) to ensure that third parties do not secure one of those domain names. If organisations fail to register both domains, then they risk allowing confusion in the marketplace.
The Domain Name Commission has proposed that there will be a "Sunrise Period" where existing .nz domain name holders can register the second level variant of their name before public registrations open. As part of the proposal, where two or more domain registrants currently own the same domain name at the third level - for example, two different owners for baldwins.co.nz and baldwins.org.nz - then the second level domain will not be able to be registered unless the consent of the other third level domain name holders is received.
This article was written with assistance from Shiv Narayan
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