.CA Domain Registration FAQ

Please note that this FAQ adds .CA specific information to our general domain FAQ, which defines terms like domain name, registry, and registrant.


  1. Who is CIRA?
  2. What is different about .ca domains?
  3. What is a registrant?
  4. The registrant confirmation process. Accepting the registrant agreement.
  5. What is my CIRA userid/password?
  6. What if I change e-mail addresses? (MCAC)
  7. Updating Registrant and/or Contact Data.
  8. Transferring .CA domains.
  9. RegistRAR transfers.
  10. RegistRANT transfers.
  11. RegistRANT MERGE.
  12. Expiring domains.
  13. Registering TBR domains.
  14. How Long does it take?
  15. Registration of municipal and conflicting domains
  16. Selling a .CA domain name.

Who is CIRA?

CIRA is an acronym for the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. They are the registRY for all .ca domains.

What is different about .ca domains?

Quite a few things, which most of which are due to CIRA. The biggest difference is that _everyone_ registering a .ca domain name has to visit the CIRA website to accept their (very long) registrant agreement. Many changes to domain registrations also require a visit to the CIRA website for confirmation. Basically anything which affects ownership of a domain has to be confirmed at the CIRA website. While it can be a nuisance, there are a number of positive benefits (for example registrar transfers are fast and simple when compared to the com/net/org world).

What is a registrant?

A registrant is a person or an organization which has accepted the CIRA registrant agreement, and therefore can 'own' .ca domains. (This is a pretty crucial item for .CA domains.) Accepting the agreement requires meeting the "Canadian Presence Requirements" (details). CIRA assigns a registrant number as well as a userid (also a number) and a password to all registrants so that they can log into the CIRA website.

A registrant has a single admin contact (there may be multiple tech contacts). If the registrant is a Canadian citizen, then the admin contact should be the registrant himself/herself. The admin contact has complete control of the domain.

The registrant confirmation process. Accepting the registrant agreement.

Owning a .CA domain requires that you accept the CIRA registrant agreement. You can not own a domain name (for more than 7 days) until you have accepted the agreement. This is probably the biggest difference from most domain registrations, where the domain is yours after your credit card has been charged. With .CA domains, there is the extra step of having to visit the CIRA website afterward. Fortunately, you only have to do it once, since you can add more domains to the same registrant.

What is my CIRA userid/password?

When you initially register a domain as a new (soon to be) registrant, CIRA assigns a userid and temporary password. The registRAR gets this information and sends it to you on the web page. CIRA will also mail it to you after about 30 minutes.

After you accept the registrant agreement, CIRA changes your password and mails it to you. From that point on, your registRAR never knows your CIRA password.

Your registRAR can have CIRA send the userid and password to the admin contact. (So can you, just use our .CA management pages to mange the domain, down at the bottom is a 'send CIRA password' button.)

What if I change e-mail addresses? (MCAC)

If your old e-mail address still works, this process is pretty simple (lots of steps, but they are all just a matter of following directions). Go to http://baremetal.com/ and take the "manage domain" menu item, then hit the .ca link, and then enter your domain in the box and press the 'manage this domain' button. After you enter your change, a confirmation code will be e-mailed to the old admin contact address. That e-mail contains instructions for entering that confirmation code at the baremetal website. All changes (admin/tech/dns etc) are entered this way, but registrant and admin contact changes need to be double confirmed at the CIRA website (unless you have granted us CWA permission). CIRA will send instructions and the appropriate CIRA userid/password to the old admin contacts

If your old e-mail address is no longer valid, there is still hope for an easy solution. If you saved the CIRA userid/password from when you accepted the registrant agreement, we can enter the change for you, and send you to the CIRA website to confirm it. Please confirm that you have the right CIRA userid/password by logging in to https://registrants.cira.ca/user. If you do, send us the new e-mail address and we will get the process started.

If your old address doesn't work, and you don't have the CIRA userid and password, then we have to run through a painfull process called an MCAC (manual change of admin contact).

This requires having you fax us some forms that are witnessed by a notary public or other allowed witnesses outlined in the MCAC form. Once we receive the forms this process can take a couple of weeks to complete.

The MCAC form is at: http://www.cira.ca/en/forms/MCACForm1v6.pdf
or see http://www.cira.ca/en/forms.html for the .doc version.

Our fax number is 250-598-7838.

Updating Registrant and/or Contact Data

Take the 'manage domain' link from the baremetal.com homepage. The current system does not use passwords, instead it uses "confirmation codes" which are sent out to the admin (or tech contact if eligible). The main advantage of this system is that _anyone_ can enter a change request for the admin or tech contact to approve (e.g. your new ISP etc).

Tech contacts can currently change DNS servers and tech contact information. All other changes need to be confirmed at the CIRA website by the admin contact anyway, so we only send those confirmation codes to the admin contact.

Changing the actual registrant name. There are three ways to do this (all require you to contact domains@baremetal.com). Minor typos can be fixed via a manual process with CIRA. In some cases a registrant "merge" can be done to move the domains to a new registrant with the correct name. If neither of the above apply, then a registRANT transfer needs to be done (which costs the same as a registration, but extends the registration by a year). Contact domains@baremetal.com for help.

Transferring .CA domains.

This is a bit of an art. There are two types of transfers: registRAR transfers (trivial) and registRANT transfers (complex). Both extend the domain registration by a full year and have an associated cost. A third procedure (a registrant MERGE) exists which is similar to registRANT transfer, but does not extend the domain registration and has no cost (see below).

A domain is associated with one (and only one) registRAR. Since domains can be moved between registRARs and a registRANT can own multiple domains, a registRANT can be associated with more than one registRAR.

RegistRAR transfers.

A .CA registRAR can "pull" a domain from another registrar. This is a simple "registRAR" transfer, and adds a year to the domain registration.

There is only one confirmation step in this process. The new registRAR submits the transfer request, then CIRA sends two messages to the admin contact. One messages is an "invitation" for the admin contact to go to the CIRA website to confirm the registRAR change. The other contains the userid and password for the registRANT to log into the CIRA site (the logic being that if the registrant is changing registRARs they may be having trouble getting service from the old registRAR, and can not request their password).

RegistRANT transfers.

A .CA registRAR can "push" a domain that is registered with them to a registRANT at any registrar. (this also extends the registration by one year). A registRAR can not "pull" a domain between registRANTs (e.g. a domain registered at another registRAR.) Moving domains between registRANTs is a complex process:

  1. current registrar makes the request (Baremetal)
  2. current registrant confirms
  3. new registrar confirms (usually Baremetal)
  4. new registrant confirms
  5. Transfer is completed by CIRA

If we are not currently the registRAR for a domain name, we must do a registRAR transfer before we can do a registRANT transfer. (The current registRAR can submit a transfer that changes both the registRAR and the registRANT at the same time... but having two registRARs involved can be awkward.)

(Please contact domains@baremetal.com to arrange registRANT transfers, our online system can not do them. [The should change in May 2005, check the domain detail page in the my-account area!] )

(Note2: If you need to create a new registRANT, please our .CA management system will help you. Take the 3rd button ("create a new registrant").)


There is a process known as a registRANT MERGE. It literally combines two registRANTS. One of the two registRANTs gets all the domains, and the other registRANT effectively ceases to exist. The confirmation process is the same as for a registRANT transfer without the "new registrar confirms" step. This process has no cost since it does not affect the registration periods.

It can be a useful way to change the registRANT name (create a new registrant with the new details, then merge your previous registrant into the new one).

It is also useful for its original purpose: consolidating multiple registRANTs.... If you own a fair number of domain names, keeping the contact information up to date can be a headache if the domains are scattered across multiple registRANTs. This process can be used to reduce the number of registRANTS and thus the amount of housekeeping.

(Please contact domains@baremetal.com to arrange registRANT MERGEs, our online system can not do them.)

Expiring domains

These rules are CIRA's, and affect all .ca registRARs and registrations. Domain registrations which expire will be suspended for 30 days. (That means that web and e-mail addresses will not work.) Renewals (and transfers) can be done during those 30 days to return the domain to service.

Registering TBR domains

31 days after their renewal date, domain registrations are canceled and the domains are marked TBR (to be released). This happens shortly after midnight (eastern time). TBR domains become available for "TBR registration" at 2pm eastern two and a half days later. If they are not registered during the 15 minute "TBR registration" period, then they are deleted completely and become available for normal registration.

To register a TBR domain, you must have a CIRA registrant which has already accepted the registrant agreement.

There are two ways to register TBR domains at baremetal. Our normal online registration system will accept TBR registrations starting 10 minutes after the TBR period opens. But you must turn on the advanced options so that you can specify your existing registrant via a previous domain name (or registrant number).

The other method is to use our TBR queuing system which schedules domains for submissions as close to the stroke of noon as we can time it (typically within 1/4 second for the first two domains :-). (We only charge for successfull registrations, and at our standard rates.)

For more details please see this page or contact domains@baremetal.com.

How Long does it take?

For changes affecting the DNS system: CIRA updates the main .ca root server approximately every 6 hours. Allowing a few more hours for the rest of the root servers to get a copy of the the information, and you can expect most changes to be visible at the root servers in 3 to 9 hours. However, DNS information gets cached, so while new domains should show up that quickly, dns server changes can take days before all the ISPs around the planet see the changes.

New registrations paid via credit card are processed "instantly". The registration is completed immediately, and the only delay in using the domain is the DNS system (see above paragraph).

New registrations paid via cheque should be processed within a day or two of the cheque arriving. If it shows up by courier, we will probably put it through faster :-).

Renewing expired domains. These have the same delays as new domains. See above two paragraphs.

Making changes to contacts, transferring between registrants, and other changes affecting whois listings. CIRA's whois server is _very_ close to real-time. The last time we asked, their estimate for average delay was something like 10 seconds! Which means that you should be able to see any changes you make to your registration almost instantly. (assuming you have entered the baremetal confirmation code and/or been to the CIRA site to confirm the change if required.)

Registering Municipal and conflicting domains.

These registrations require working carefully with ecac@cira.ca which is a ridiculously complex and time consuming process, and it has made us look like fools more than once. In order to recover some of our costs (and pay for the headache medicine), we need to either charge a $50 consulting fee, or be registering the domain for 5 or more years. Both of these registration processes are quite "manual". Please contact domains@baremetal.com to get started (or call the office). (Note that this charge is only for registering the domain name, not for maintaining it -- once registered, the domain is a "normal" domain. Renewals have the normal price and updates are [of course] free.)

Selling a .CA domain name

Because .CA domains are owned by registRANTs, and the contact information for a domain is the contact information for the registRANT, changing ownership can be complex. Normally this will be a registRANT transfer. If all the domains the registRANT owns are being transfered (and many registrants only own one domain), then a registRANT MERGE can be done (and is preferable as there is no cost, and one less confirmation step).

Note that the new owner needs to have a CIRA registRANT and thus needs to meet the Canadian Presence Requirements (CPR).