Why Registering a .CN Address Really Sucks

Although “authoritarian control” might be the first thing you think of when the Internet in China comes to mind, you might be surprised to find that China’s control extends all the way to registering it’s internet domain names.

In the past I’ve registered .com, .net, and .us internet domains but this week I registered my first .cn address – and unlike the domains I’ve registered before, .cn addresses are administered by the PRC’s Ministry of Information.

Before I get into what’s involved, I want to make sure you’re clear what registering an ordinary .com or .net internet domain involves:

It’s a painless, two-minute process where you pay about $10 a year using credit card or PayPal.

The domain starts working within hours (a delay caused by DNS propagation) and no one approves or denies any requests. It’s an efficient process because humans don’t get involved: the entire thing is managed by networked computers and you change your name server or (and domain ownership) info with your automatically-configured username and password.

It looks much cooler than it is

When you register a .cn address, you’ll think everything is going great. But the address won’t work, and your domain registrar might not even know what’s going on. I use GoDaddy, among the most well-known and trusted domain registrars around, and this really messed them up.

I had been sending and receiving e-mail from GoDaddy support for a week before either of us could figure out that as of December 2009, there’s a new auditing process for Chinese domain names. It’s hard to see who benefits from such a strict control measure in the face of easy and cheap alternative domains like .com and .net which are still accessible in China.

largest registrar in the world

I really don’t see many .cn domain names getting registered in the near future when you can save $20 and avoid this headache with a tried-and-trusted .com address.

Here’s the actual message I received listing the requirements:

Dear Registrant,

Thank you for your recent .CN domain name purchase.

The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) has implemented new registration requirements.  Effective immediately, only businesses will be allowed to register .CN domain names, and they will be required to submit a formal paper-based application at the time of registration.  The CNNIC will need to receive this information within 5 calendar days of the online registration.

If CNNIC does not receive the application form and supporting documentation (including personal ID) within 5 calendar days of the submission of the online application for the domain name, OR the documentation provided does not pass CNNIC’s audit requirements within 5 calendar days of the submission of the online application for the domain name, then the application will be deleted.

Required documentation for ALL applications includes:

a) The “domain name registration application form” (see attachment), with the seal of the business OR signature of a representative from the business.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  The Admin contact ID, Technical contact ID, Payment contact ID and Representative (Registrant ID on the hard copy application form) MUST match the information provided in the fields during the online application for the domain name.

b) A photocopy of the business license.  “Business license” means the official document of the business, company or organization (such as company or organization registration).

c) A photocopy of the applicant’s personal ID.  Acceptable personal ID may include a copy of a driver’s license, passport or resident card/ID.

Please email this information to [email protected], or you may fax it to (480) 247-4116.  Please allow a minimum of five calendar days for processing.

If you would like more information about this policy change, please visit the CNNIC website by using the link provided below:



Domain Services

Needless to say, I registered a .info address.

It’s a compromise, I admit, but it cost $1 (compared to $30 for the .cn address) and was registered and working in an instant.

No human review process or official business stamps involved!

What do you think? Leave a message in the comments below!

13 thoughts on “Why Registering a .CN Address Really Sucks”

  1. Who wakes up in the morning and decides to make a policy like that? I guess with 70 million bureaucrats in China (more than the entire population of the UK) it makes sense that they need to find work for people to do so they change policies around a bit. But the headaches are just so easy to avoid like you said.

    I was also thinking about a .cn, but went with a .ws (website) instead.

    • The terms for current owners of .cn addresses is somewhat of a mystery, although I suspect they’ll be able to proceed without filing these documents. I believe the rules only apply to the application of a new address.

  2. GoDaddy no longer registers .cn addresses at all. Here’s an e-mail I got today:

    “At this time, CNNIC is not allowing registrars located outside of China to register .CN domain names for their customers. We do not know if this is a temporary or permanent decision by the Chinese Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).”

  3. I found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. I spent some time in Western China once.. anyway I bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later!

  4. It is a problem with all those BRIC countries.

    Brazil: I live in Brazil and you can not get .com.br legally without their CPF (something like SSN). On the top of that there are more funny things like you can not properly change DNS, you can not extend the domain only prior to expiration etc etc etc.

    Russia – I have only one .ru domain and still I am not sure how it works with whois server…

    India – very funny as well. They offered .in privacy at mr.domain, but then decided to stop it. But before they solve dit they disabled my domains for like 2 weeks.

    Finally with China I have only good experience, but maybe because I used local registrar http://nicenic.net or they changed rules.

  5. Why Registering a .CN Address Really Necessary:

    CNNIC released the 32nd Statistical Report on China Internet Development

    Chinese Netizen Growth Entered into a Steady State
    Application Hotspot Transferred to Mobile Phone Products

    On July 17th, 2013, China Internet Network Information Center(CNNIC) released the 32nd Statistical Report on China Internet Development (“the Report”). The Report shows that by the end of June 2013, Chinese netizens reached 591 million, with the Internet penetration being 44.1%. During the first half of this year, mobile phones as the Internet terminals made an eye-catching play, because it not only became an important source of new netizens but also performed well in such network applications as instant messaging and e-business.

    Chinese Netizen Growth Entered into a Steady State, Mobile Phones Became No. 1 Source of New Netizens

    The Report shows that by the end of June 2013, the number of netizens in China has reached 591 million, increasing by 26.56 million compared with the end of 2012. The Internet penetration was 44.1%, increasing by 2% compared to that at the end of 2012. Of the new Chinese netizens, up to 70.0% of them used mobile phones to surf the Internet, outnumbering those Chinese netizens who use other equipment to surf the Internet. It is worth mentioning that the Internet penetration was quite fast in the rural areas of China. Of the new netizens in the semiannual period, Chinese rural netizens accounted for 54.4%.

    Meantime, the number of mobile phone netizens in China has reached 464 million by the end of June 2013, increasing by 43.79 million compared with the end of 2012. Netizens of using mobile phones rose to 78.5%. Popularity of the 3G, development of wireless networks, and innovation of mobile phone application greatly facilitated the rapid growth of Chinese mobile phone netizens.

    In comparison to the end of 2012, the Chinese user scale had increased by 14.0%, 18.9%, 15.7% and 12.0% respectively in the Chinese mobile phone network music, mobile phone network video, mobile phone network game and mobile phone network literature, maintaining a high growth rate.

    As an Internet application with rapid rise in recent years, the e-business application developed rapidly at the mobile phone terminal. Specifically, the Chinese netizen scale in the mobile phone online payment grew by a large margin. The Report shows that the Chinese online payment user has reached 244 million, increasing by 23.73 million in a half year, with a growth rate of 10.8%. Specifically, the number of mobile phones online payment user rose by 43.0% over the year 2012. In addition, large-scale growth was seen in the mobile phone shopping, mobile phone group purchase and mobile phone online banking.

  6. Hello,

    I keep getting emails from some Chinese company saying they are a domain registrar and another company in China wants to register my domain name, but with .cn. They claim they want to check with me first before allowing the other company to register. I assume this is a scam to get me to pay them, but I wanted to see if anybody else has heard of this? Another friend of mine has a product based company in the USA. A Chinese company registered his domain with .cn and started selling knock offs of his products in China. It’s become a big international legal battle. Something I’d like to avoid. Any advice? Thanks!


    • Some of our clients have the same or similar confusion, there is an easy way to spot this kind of scam, that is to check the whois information of the domain name, which is included in the sender’s Email address, and in the whois information, you will obviously see who is the real “Registrar”, 100% possibly it is not the one who claimed that he was the Registrar, because no real Registrar will use so crappy way to get domain orders, and Registrar’s behaviour is seriously supervised by both ICANN and Registry.
      Hope it helps! Good luck!


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