If I want to register or renew www.therandomcatsite.com, I know for sure that I can pay GoDaddy about $12 to do so, and GoDaddy notes that the ICANN fee is $0.18. Is it possible to personally file a registration or renewal with ICANN (or whatever central organization handles registrations) and only pay the $0.18 fee?

  • No, AFAIK, you can only register a domain name through an approved registrar. But currently GoDaddy's having a special, $0.99 for one year. I have no affiliation; that link comes from an ad atop a Google search for "domain". There's even a couple ads for $0.50 & $0.75. – akTed Jan 18 '13 at 19:41
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    @AKTed: They're probably still trying to make up for the mass exodus of domain owners that resulted from their support of SOPA. – Lèse majesté Jan 18 '13 at 20:14

The short answer is: no, you can't.

The long answer is: yes, you can. But in order to do so you'll need to be accredited by ICANN. See here.

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  • Even then you really can't. As I understand it, ICANN collects a fee per domain, but it's the TLD registry that collects most of profits from registrars. That's why it's worthwhile for businesses to buy control of a TLD if they have the money to do so. For example, Versign owns the .com and .net TLDs (among others), and they charge a registry fee of $7.85 and $5.11 per year for each. – Lèse majesté Jan 18 '13 at 20:48
  • @Lèsemajesté Is it possible to register a .com domain directly from Verisign? – Cory Klein Jan 18 '13 at 20:55
  • @Cory: No, only registrars perform retail sales to end users. – Lèse majesté Jan 18 '13 at 21:05

ICANN doesn't provide domain registration services. They oversee the functioning of DNS and various other high-level things, including accrediting registrars. (FAQ here; especially see "What is ICANN?") Providing registation would probably be a a conflict of interest, actually.

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