Four years ago an American friend of mine purchased a .us domain for me as a wedding present. A year later, when the domain renewal came up, she simply transferred the domain to me, and it has been registered, with my valid UK details, ever since.

On Wikipedia it lists the following under 'Restrictions on use of .us domains':

Under .US nexus requirements .US domains may be registered only by the following qualified entities:

- Any United States citizen or resident,
- Any United States entity, such as organizations or corporations,
- Any foreign entity or organization with a bona fide presence in the United States

The heading implies that there restrictions on the use of the domain, yet the section itself only refers to the registration of the domain, and says nothing about its use. Since it was originally registered by a U.S. citizen and then transferred to me (a UK citizen) later, is this still an issue? Am I breaking ICANN rules?

The main reason I ask is because the domain is set to become the basis of a new business venture, and I don't want to have the rug pulled out from under me.

  • 1
    I wont' tell! Good question. I would say technically UCANN'T, but that is one opinion.
    – closetnoc
    Jul 16, 2014 at 18:11
  • @closetnoc I would also hazard that it's probably technically a no-no, but I can't find anything definitive, and even the wording in articles I have found ('use' vs. 'registration') doesn't clarify the issue. But I'd rather not take a gamble and have my domains yanked away from me.
    – indextwo
    Jul 16, 2014 at 18:18
  • I think if it were me, I would consider continuing using it with a backup plan and the idea that I/you may have to move it soon. I am not a risk taker really. I assume that you are not willing to risk all the rank building either. Are there any options for a similar domain name using a .com or .eu or something acceptable? Otherwise, I do not think anyone would really notice if you are willing to take the risk. Perhaps there is someone who has experience with this scenario. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the risk really is.
    – closetnoc
    Jul 16, 2014 at 22:49
  • 1
    @indextwo Note that just below the quoted text from Wikipedia is: NeuStar frequently conducts "spot checks" on registrant information. Also, the term registered is considered continuous throughout the registration period. You should either transfer it back to your friend, or setup a bona fide presence in the United States as Dave Lozier suggests to adequately fulfill that requirement. You'll need to update the registrant contact information afterwards of course, so be aware that some registrars only permit changes 90 days after a transfer or registrant contact information update occurs.
    – dan
    Jul 17, 2014 at 0:42
  • All good points. Have an upvote!
    – indextwo
    Jul 17, 2014 at 9:54

1 Answer 1


I would play it safe and assume that you are not able to own the domain. I've actually looked to purchase some foreign domains myself only to find that I needed to be a resident there so this stipulation isn't unusual.

But, considering "Any foreign entity or organization with a bona fide presence in the United States" is stated you may be able to get around the restriction by hiring a US based lawyer as a representative of your company or legal counsel for your company. Not that they would actually do much of anything other than be the "bona fide presence" you need to continue to hold your domain. All it may take is a yearly retainer since they wont really be doing much else other than live and work in the US. (so costs may not be that much but they are lawyers so hard to say)

  • Good answer. I hadn't considered an American lawyer, as I'm not sure what qualifies a 'bona fide' presence. I have a number of American friends who would happily maintain ownership of the domain(s), and I could pay them a notional fee - would that count? I don't think these rules have been thought through particularly well. Also note it says Any U.S. *citizen* or resident - I have an American friend who lives here. She's still a U.S. citizen, but has a UK address. Can she register my domains? So many unanswered questions!
    – indextwo
    Jul 17, 2014 at 9:52
  • I would think she would have no problems registering your domains since she still holds U.S. citizenship. I'm not sure how companies are set up on your side of the pond but here you could create an LLC company and issue her a small percentage of the stock so she is an "owner" in the company. There is definitely some avenues around the restrictions for sure. Good luck! Jul 26, 2014 at 5:04
  • Thanks for the tip - I figured putting her (or one of my American-resident friends) on a notional fee retainer as my 'Domain Manager' - I'm pretty sure that would work - they get money, I get domains. Everybody wins!
    – indextwo
    Jul 26, 2014 at 10:48

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