This article describes how anyone can register a “.is” domain. And how to associate it with a current name server (ex. forward to a website and email). This does not discuss website hosting issues.

Why “.is”?

The Icelandic .is domain names are becoming very popular. McAfee  ranks it as one of the more secure top-level domains (TLDs). You might be more familiar with more popular TLDs such as .com, .net and .org. This is because Iceland is one of the most pro-privacy nations in the world. And even the Pirate Bay  seems to be starting to using it.

Another good reason to get yourself a .is domain name is because there are only about 40,000 registered. This means that domain name you’ve always wanted has a very good chance of being available at a reputable TLD. It also sounds cool as it plays on words such as who.is and christina.is.

What You Need: 

While there are a few places you can register a .is domain, such as 101domains.com and gandi.net. They often require you to purchase web hosting plans. And personally, I believe there are much better places to host your website at a better price and performance ex. KnownHost.com.

*Internet á Íslandi hf. (ISNIC)*

This is THE best and original registrar to purchase your .is domain.

It costs about 39 Euros or $52 USD. This is the most cost effective place to register your domain as others can cost up to or more than $100 USD to $300 USD with web hosting.

UPDATE: June 10, 2015: ISNIC tweeted me that it actually costs 29.90 Euros since Dec, 2014. Even better deal! 

The Main Issue:

I encountered this the hard way and spent quite a while trying to figure how to point my new .is domain to my current web host. You will quickly find out that ISNIC has very strict rules and only allows you to direct your .is domains to a limited number of domain hosts. For example, I could not simply direct the .is domain to my VPS name server on Knownhost as they do not comply with the ISNIC rules.

There are some work arounds, as ISNIC does allow a simple “web forwarding” function.

Domain Name Server (DNS) Service:

However, if you want to do things like have access to MX records, you need to use a registered DNS service. While registering a .is domain on ISNIC, you will come across that list of all the web hosts and name servers that can comply with their standards. Many of these are in Icelandic and are hard to understand. However, I found some good and free ones available in English. These are the cream of the crop:

  1. 1984 Hosting  is the free DNS service that I personally used.
  2. http://x.is (free) (use Peter Hartree’s Icelandic instructions linked at end)
  3. http://www.zoneedit.com and https://dnsimple.com are paid services.

Right now I moved my DNS service to 1984 Hosting which is free. They are well established from 2006, have a mission to maintain the privacy of their clients and only use green-energy to power their services.

As a company (1984.is) and it’s officers will always go the extra mile to protect the customers civil rights, including the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press, the right to anonymity and privacy.

Now that is a very confident statement indeed!

Once you choose one of these services, you will be prompted to set up your A record. All they want you to do is point to your websites IP address. For example, “host= newdomain.is” and “IP address of newdomain.com (webhost)”.

Next,  you will want to go back to the ISNIC registrar and point your .is domain to the DNS service ex. If you use 1984.is, their name servers are ns0.1984.is, ns1.1984.is and ns2.1984.is.. At ISNIC, you can also simply choose 1984.is or X.is from their drop down menu of selected services and it will automatically fill out the name servers for you.

Setting up Google Apps for Business (hosted exchange email) MX records 

If you’re like me, you want to send and receive emails at your brand new .is domain. There are some really good places to high quality email such as Rackspace, FastMail, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Business.

All of these fine services will ask you to point your MX records to them. For example, the MX records Google wants you input in your DNS service is here. I know some of you may have a thing against handing over your precious data to the likes of Google and Microsoft, so consider independent ones like Rackspace or FastMail for sure.

For all of these email services, the process is pretty much the same, in that you just need to change the MX records in 1984.is (DNS service) to Google Apps (or other).

And that’s pretty much it. You registered your new .is domain, found a DNS service, associated them together, forwarded the .is domain to your web host and set up an email service for it. Enjoy!

Links I found useful setting up my .is domain: