Domain registration is the process whereby one stakes a claim to a certain name on the world wide web. All of the computer systems on the world wide web have to be identified using a distinct ID - the system which is used on the internet is called IP, or the Internet Protocol. Every computer on the net has an IP address - this is a set of numbers which uniquely identifies a computer system on the network, no matter where in the world it is. If you type this number into a web browser you will be able to access the web site that it corresponds to - however for most people the idea of memorizing numbers is not anywhere near as intuitive and easy as remembering words. This is where the system of domain registration comes in.

When you register a domain name with domain registration, the domain name is propagated through the internet on special name servers - these name servers hold lists of domain names (the basic names that you think of as the names of web sites) and their corresponding IP addresses, so that when you type the name of a web site into your web browser it accesses the nearest nameserver on the web and finds the IP address so that the software can bring you the right web page. All of this happens transparently - from your perspective all that you have to do is type in a name and the right web page from somewhere on the world wide web will come up in a matter of seconds.

Domain registration is typically by the year, and you can register any domain name which has not been purchased / reserved by someone else for a fee which is usually around ten dollars a year or less. Many web hosting programs allow you to have a free domain name with your account, so all that you have to do is type in the name that you are looking for and provided that it is available you will be able to name your site that without making any additional payments. Domain names are a business in themselves and the values of different domain names can be in the thousands and thousands of dollars. A particularly valuable domain will be bought an sold by webmasters who can put up sites to take advantage of the high traffic levels that the name will attract.

Usually your domain name registration will be renewed automatically by the web hosting company that you are signed up with, although in some cases you might have to tell the company explicitly that you want the domain renewed. You can also transfer your domains between web hosting providers, and if a domain which you want has been purchased already by someone else you can generally work out some kind of sale so that you can take possession of the domain name; in this case you will have to pay the owner of the name, get it transferred, and then pay the regular yearly fees on top of that to keep it registered in your name.