You think dot-com is king? That may be so in the Anglo-American world, but if you want to do e-business in Europe, you should really think of getting a European top-level domain.

Every country in the world has its own country code top-level domain (ccTLD). They are the last part of an Internet host name and signify the country of origin of a Web site. For each country, there's a different top-level domain, such as .de for Germany, .at for Austria, .fr for France, or .it for Italy. Except in the United States, which has the country code .us, country codes are the extensions that Web site businesses commonly use.

Doing E-Business in Austria

For example, let's say that you want to sell your products and services to people in Austria. The country code for Austria in the Domain Name System (DNS) is .at.

When you are doing business in Austria, an .at domain name for your Web site gives you a competitive advantage over the companies that use .com, .net, or .org. Here are some reasons why:

  • Europeans are used to their national TLDs. It is the TLD they trust and are willing to conduct business with. For them the dot-com is simply too generic. That is why most multinational companies are using a different TLD and Web site for each European country. And that is also why many small businesses outside the United States prefer to use the country code TLD for their Web sites.
  • It's pretty hard to find a good, unclaimed dot-com domain, with more than 10 million of them already in use. The situation in Austria is quite different. By May 2000, not more than 120,000 .at domain names had been registered. So you will probably be able to get the domain name you have dreamed of, one that really describes your business.

But before going out to get your .at domain, there are some legal rules you need to consider. Here is some advice on what not to do when creating your Austrian domain name:

  • Don't register any trademarks or famous company names, e.g.,,
  • Don't register any city domains, e.g.,
  • Don't register any domains that use typographical "errors" to imitate famous company names, e.g.,,

By observing these rules, you will avoid the legal traps of domain name disputes.

You can easily find out whether your .at domain name is still available at the Domain-It Web site. Type in the name you would like next to "Domainname," then choose the country code you are interested in and click on "Prü fen," which means to verify. You can register an .at domain for about $170 (U.S.) for the first year, about $60 for subsequent years.

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Published on: May 31, 2000