The Zurich metropolitan area is undoubtedly the most important economic region in Switzerland. According to the canton’s own statistics, more than one million people work in the Canton of Zurich. This is equivalent to one-fifth of all employees in Switzerland. There are also over 116,000 businesses in the canton, including several companies with national and international reputations, as well as numerous small and medium-sized enterprises and commercial operations. Zurich has long been more than just a major financial hub. For example, it’s also a leader in the fields of fintech, IT, medical technology, research and education.
To ensure that the various players in this economic and social melting pot can be represented appropriately in the digital world, the canton has now launched its own top-level domain (TLD) – .zuerich. After an assessment and application process lasting several years, the Zurich Government Council signed an agreement in 2014 with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the independent administrative body that manages domains internationally. The canton was also assigned the role of managing registrations for this new top-level domain (TLD).
.zuerich – the new digital trademark of the Zurich region
The .zuerich TLD is intended to serve as the new digital trademark of the Zurich region. When registering a proprietary company name or a business-specific concept as a domain name, companies and organizations can signal their connection to the Zurich region and benefit from Zurich’s reputation as a center of business at the interregional, national and international levels.
The cantonal regulations stipulate that only companies and public organizations based in the Canton of Zurich are eligible to register .zuerich domains. Private individuals are not allowed to register such domains. Companies submitting applications must be listed in the Canton of Zurich’s commercial registry. In addition to businesses, public-sector bodies and organizations based in the Canton of Zurich can also apply to register .zuerich domains. Associations, specialized departments or similar organizations in the canton will also eventually have the opportunity to apply for registration. However, they must work primarily on behalf of public-sector organizations in the canton on a long-term basis, and must be able to prove this.
From sunrise phase to Dutch auction
The registration process for the .zuerich TLD will be rolled out in several phases. In the sunrise phase, which began on August 30 and is currently underway, the registration of .zuerich domains will initially be reserved for trademarks registered in the ICANN Trademark Clearinghouse. To ensure that domain names have a clear connection with the trademark and can’t be squatted on unfairly by third parties, the Trademark Clearinghouse was founded to protect the legal owners of trademarks. The “sunrise” advance registration gives trademark owners the opportunity to secure these domains early.
The second registration phase will begin on September 30, 2021, and allows public-sector bodies in the Canton of Zurich to also reserve their domain names before the big rush. When the third phase begins on November 22, 2021, all companies and organizations meeting the prerequisites may submit applications to register the .zuerich domains of their choice. However, the first ten days of this general availability phase will proceed in the form of a “Dutch auction.” This means that the selling prices of the domains on the first day of this phase will be highest and will then be lowered each day down to the fixed price level on December 2, 2021. This auction process was originally developed for the sale of tulips in the Netherlands and is designed to prevent competitors from outbidding each other.
Many popular domain names with the .zuerich TLD are likely to be snatched up quickly. Hostpoint has been accepting applications for .zuerich domains since the start of the sunrise phase. Companies and organizations that meet the basic requirements for submitting an application can reserve their desired domains with Hostpoint in advance. At the end of the ten-day “Dutch auction”, Hostpoint will then submit the collected applications to the registry on December 2, 2021, at 2 pm sharp (CET). Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that registration of the domain will be accepted. If the desired domain is extremely important to you, you can reserve it in advance during the “Dutch auction” – albeit at a significantly higher price.
The .zuerich domain extension is what is known as a geographical TLD, i.e. a domain extension that refers to a specific country, region or even city. In addition to the Zurich region, the region of Flanders (.vlaanderen) in Belgium and the Saar region (.saarland) in Germany already have their own TLDs, for example. There are also many other major cities with their own TLDs, such as .london, .berlin and .amsterdam.
Similarities with the introduction of .swiss domains
The registration requirements and multiphase rollout process for .zuerich will unfold much like the rollout of .swiss domains, which have been available since 2015. These, too, are reserved exclusively for legal entities. However, any parties wishing to register a .swiss domain, must also prove that their business activities have a clear connection to Switzerland. In the case of .swiss domains, Hostpoint was also one of the first domain registrars in Switzerland to offer early registration with advance ordering.
Hostpoint is the leading Swiss domain registrar and manages more than 800,000 domains. No other Swiss provider manages more .ch domains than Hostpoint. In contrast to .zuerich and .swiss domains, .ch domains are freely available. Hostpoint was Switzerland’s first web hosting provider and received official ICANN accreditation as a domain registrar in 2013. Today, Hostpoint offers a complete range of TLDs.