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While the average internet user might not give a ton of thought to the components of URLs and the differences between them, there are some implications of that oversight to website visitors. Being the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, managers of the .CA domain, we would like to help you learn a bit more about domain names and show you when .CA is the optimal choice.

A brief lesson on domain names

What are the components of a URL?

You've noticed that there are websites that end with a .CA, or .com, and you may have even started seeing new ones like .news or .club. While 9 in 10 Canadian Internet users are familiar with .CA, a survey conducted by the Strategic Counsel shows that one-half of the respondents didn't know what to call the “suffix” in a website address. So, what are they called?

Domain names have two main components. 

Everything to the “left of the dot” is referred to as the second-level domain. The section to the “right of the dot” is the top-level domain (TLD for short).

This post is meant to help you figure out if .CA is the right choice for you. If you would like to learn some tips on choosing the perfect second-level domain, refer to our free guide, Bringing your business online.

Types of TLDs

Top-level domains can be further broken down into two categories:

  • country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) - those associated with a country, such as .CA for Canada or .se for Sweden
  • generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .org or .com

Over the past few years, new gTLDs like .news or .shop have been popping up. With the emergence of these new options (of which there are now well over 1,000), it makes the decision on which gTLD to choose even more difficult!

Why choose .CA?

The truth is, choosing the right TLD depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your website. Which visitors are you trying to attract? There are many things that a .CA can convey to your website visitors that you just won't be able to accomplish with other TLDs.

Here are a few benefits of choosing .CA. 

Only those with a Canadian connection can get a .CA

To register a .CA domain, there is a Canadian presence requirement, which helps protect .CA as a true indicator online that you're visiting a website owned by a Canadian individual or business. This helps CIRA maintain a .CA registry that is a stable, secure and trusted public resource for all Canadians. Many other gTLDs or even some ccTLDs do not have such requirements, which means anyone can register their domains.

Canadians prefer .CA websites

A survey conducted by the Strategic Counsel in 2019 showed that 83% of Canadian internet users prefer shopping on a site with a .CA domain name. Canadians most prefer .CA when it comes to banking, news and current events, and shopping. Why is this? Because only Canadians can get a .CA, it means that when you're on a .CA website you know automatically that you're looking at a home-grown business that's proud to be Canadian. 

.CA gives back

CIRA's Community Investment Program gives back by funding innovative community projects to build a stronger, safer and more accessible Internet for all Canadians. The funds from registering or renewing a .CA domain help support initiatives that grow Canada's capacity in media literacy, enable non-profits to deliver online services and academic researchers to address emerging digital issues.

Through this program, CIRA has supported 151 innovative projects across Canada to date, for a total of $6.47 million.

More availability of short and memorable domains

.com is the most common domain name extension so it might be an attractive option for your website. But there are well over 100 million .com domain names currently registered compared to over 2.8 million .CAs, which means you might have better luck locking in your ideal domain name with a .CA. Test out to see what's available using our search tool: 

Your personal domain name can be Canadian (just like you!)

Many Canadians are registering their personal domain names ( to build their personal brand online. Students, athletes, professionals, and politicians are some key examples of those who often choose to show their Canadian pride with a .CA. You can find out more about personal domain names with our Digital Me ebook.

Your personal domain name information remains private

Domain name registries like CIRA manage WHOIS, a directory that contains data about the domain names they have registered. If you register a .CA domain name as an individual (that is, not for a business or corporation), information such as the name and email address of the administrative and technical contact are not displayed publicly in the WHOIS. This is not the case with all domain registries, like with .com. When you register a .CA it means that your personal information remains private and you do not have to pay extra for privacy services from registrars to keep it hidden.

Your business is proudly local

Many businesses such as Northern Biscuit pride themselves in sourcing local ingredients for their products. They make it clear on their website that their business is Canadian by explaining their story, posting a "Made in Canada" badge and by having a .CA domain name. 

Your business wants to reach a Canadian market

A ccTLD is an obvious indicator that companies and startups are doing business in a specific country. Here are some scenarios where they would want to register a .CA.

A .CA is like a Canadian flag on your digital backpack.

A small businesses that offers services confined to a geographic area

The Blush and Bloom flower studio operates in Toronto and has an online showcase on their .CA website.

An ecommerce site that wants to sell products or services to the Canadian market and list their prices in Canadian dollars

Transcend Coffee, originally from Edmonton, sells coffee products across the country. Founder and CEO, Poul Mark, explains that one of the things they discovered during user testing of a previous version of their site was that users assumed it was an American company with a .com.

Even if you're planning on expanding into the international market, we recommend you keep your .CA in addition to other TLDs that you may want in your domain name portfolio, to continue establishing yourself in the Canadian market.

Corporations or organizations that operate in many countries in addition to Canada

A couple of different tactics could be used in this case:

  • A company can have a version of their website that is modified specifically for a Canadian audience, catering to the needs of their Canadian customers.
  • You could register a .CA and simply redirect it to your main URL so that your company's brand remains protected when people search your business name + .ca. It is a fairly popular tactic – according to the research conducted by the Strategic Counsel, 34% of small business owners with a website have registered their domain name on more than one extension.

In a world where there are over 1,000 TLDs to choose from, only one TLD tells your website visitors that you are Canadian. Choose Canada. Choose .CA.