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Registrations are processed via a network of participants. It is one of the more popular ccTLDs, ranked 3rd in the quarterly VeriSign Domain Name Industry Brief of May 2011 for the first quarter of 2011, after .de and .uk.
Due to the strong positions of the Dutch economy globally, many businesses prefer to build their online presence using the .NL TLD as a reference to the country itself. This brings more prestige to their overall web profile and corporate image. That added to the fact that this extension was the first ccTLD ever introduced has secured a front position for .NL within the first 10 most preferred ccTLDs worldwide.
About .NL Domains TLD
It was the first ccTLD ever to be registered. The authority for the .nl domain was handed over to Piet Beertema of the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in 1986.
Since January 31, 1996 .nl domains are registered by the Stichting Internet Domeinregistratie Nederland (SIDN, in English: Foundation for Internet Domain Registration Netherlands), based in Arnhem. SIDN operates as a registry, with around 1900 registrars. Most registrars are ISPs, IT service bureaus and media service bureaus, but several large enterprises with many brand names have also become a registrar, or participant as SIDN calls them, which is a quite uncommon phenomenon in the domain name industry. Registrars have to pay SIDN a fee for each domain since April 1, 1996, until then registration was free. SIDN does not deal directly with Registrants. In the early days, most of the registrants were universities and research departments of large companies, such as Philips Research.
Individuals are allowed to register a second-level .nl domain since 2003. As a forerunner, individuals were allowed to register a third-level domain since 2000. Such 'personal domains' had the form of janjansen.123.nl. They never became popular, and registration has been suspended since 2006. Because there are only around 500 of such domains registered, in contrast to about 5 million second-level domains, SIDN announced the discontinuance of personal domains as of 2008 on July 4, 2007. Owners of such domains will be contacted by SIDN and offered a small fee if they cooperate.
The cost of a .nl domain varies, but depending on the registrar the price is around 7 to 15 euros. 38% of the .nl domains are registered by individuals.