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Top-level domain .de
introduction 5th November 1986
category country-specific
Registry DENIC eG
Award unrestricted
number 16.45 million

.de is the country-specific top-level domain (ccTLD) for the Federal Republic of Germany . It was delegated to the IANA on November 5, 1986 and initially administered by the University of Dortmund . DENIC , headquartered in Frankfurt am Main , has been taking on this task since 1996/1997 . With more than 16 million registered domains .de is the fourth largest top-level domain after .com , .cn and .tk .


Jon Postel (1994) with a map of the Internet top-level domains. A circle for the top-level domain "DE" is drawn by hand on the right edge.

On November 5, 1986, .de was registered by the IANA as a top-level domain for Germany in the root zone of the Domain Name System in accordance with ISO 3166 . Since this day .de domains can be registered. In March 1988, the Network Information Center located at the University of Dortmund at that time recorded a total of six .de domains: dbp.de , rmi.de , telenet.de , uka.de , uni-dortmund.de and uni-paderborn.de .

Since 1997, the management of all .de domains has been in the hands of DENIC , which was established a year earlier. Numerous web hosts have joined forces in the cooperative , which in turn act as accredited registrars for .de domains. In addition, DENIC itself offers .de domains under the name DENICdirect . However, this does not include web space , email addresses or other services.


Source: DENIC website

With 16.45 million registered domains .de is one of the most frequently used country-specific top-level domains , behind .cn ( People's Republic of China ) with 20.6 million (as of February 2017) registered domains, but ahead of .uk . When considering all addresses - i.e. both country-specific and generic domains - .de ranks fourth behind the top-level domains .com , .tk and .cn. The mark of 15 million .de domains was exceeded in April 2012, and since June 2006 there have been more than 10 million addresses. The first million was reached on October 5th, 1999.

DENIC eG publishes statistics on the regional distribution of .de domains every year. In Germany, the metropolitan areas of Berlin , Munich and Hamburg stand out with the most domains per capita. However, these statistics are falsified by the headquarters of the major web hosting providers. B. the district of Starnberg on the second place of the regions with the most domains per inhabitant, since the company united-domains is based here . As with most country-specific top-level domains, .de domains can also be registered by people from abroad. For registrations from abroad, the USA , Great Britain and Switzerland are at the top.


A .de domain can be between one and 63 characters long. For a long time, domains had to be at least three characters long, which changed when the criteria were liberalized in 2008. In addition to alphanumeric characters , all German umlauts , the Eszett and various characters in other languages ​​can be used according to the official DENIC list. In their Punycode spelling, these are counted towards the maximum permitted length. Hyphens , more precisely hyphen minus , are possible, but neither in the first nor last position of the domain. A hyphen cannot appear in the third and fourth position at the same time. Domains that are formed with hyphens represent the largest group and since 2001 it has always accounted for more than half of all domain names.

In order to register a .de domain, the future owner does not need a place of residence or a branch in Germany. If the domain owner is not based in Germany, DENIC can ask them to name a person with an authorized recipient who is based in Germany within two weeks . Furthermore, for a domain delegation, at least two name servers must be named during registration , which answer authoritatively for the respective .de domain. Alternatively, DENIC offers under the name NSentry to include up to five A or MX entries for a domain directly in the .de zone.


A .de domain is registered for an unlimited period, the fees are usually due at least one year in advance. This applies both to the assignment by DENICdirect and an accredited registrar. If the registrar gives up the administration of a .de domain without deleting it, it is put into the so-called transit state. This enables the owner to transfer it to another domain name registrar or to have it managed by DENICdirect. Alternatively, the deletion can also be initiated.

Since December 3, 2013, a .de domain cannot be registered by third parties immediately after deletion: A so-called Redemption Grace Period (RGP) has been introduced, as it has been with other top-level domains such as .com since 2002 is common. It grants the owner a 30-day cooling off period, during which the deletion can be withdrawn. This is to prevent the accidental deletion of a .de domain.


By AuthInfo .de domains are protected from unauthorized transfers. Such a character string is generated by the previous registrar (domain host) upon request by the owner or his legal representative . This is now given to the new registrar, usually in a web application, and only then enables the domain to be moved. The same applies to the change of owner itself. The procedure is considered the standard in the industry and was tested from 2008 and finally implemented by DENIC in February 2010.

In addition, the top-level domain .de has been supporting the DNSSEC process since spring 2010 . This is to ensure that the authenticity and data integrity of the domain name system is guaranteed and that queries from a client and the response from the DNS server cannot be manipulated. After a test in July 2009, DNSSEC was first put into operation for .de in January 2010. For this, DENIC was supported by the Association of the German Internet Industry (eco) and the Federal Office for Information Security .


  • During his tenure as Prime Minister of the Free State of Saxony , Kurt Biedenkopf demanded that DENIC should block the kurt-biedenkopf.de domain indefinitely so that it could not be registered by third parties. Biedenkopf didn't want to use the domain himself either. The Dresden Higher Regional Court rejected a corresponding action in November 2000, whereupon Biedenkopf went to the Federal Court of Justice . However, this also followed DENIC's argument that a blockage of the named domain could only be expected if registration by any holder would always constitute a violation of applicable law in the foreseeable future.
  • In August 2004, the .de domain was transferred from eBay to a new owner without the approval of the auction house . A customer of the web host Intergenia submitted a KK application to change the owner, which was carried out because the registrar Tucows did not reject it. In the course of this, DENIC came under fire for not having taken adequate security measures, although ebay.de was restored to the correct owner a few hours after the transfer. eBay itself refrained from taking legal action against the initiator of the KK application, contrary to initial announcements.
  • DENIC initially only assigned domains with a length of at least three characters . Exceptions to this rule were ix.de , db.de and hq.de and the address bb.de . In 2008, Volkswagen AG successfully fought against DENIC's decision not to register vw.de. As a result, the award criteria were changed so that both single-digit and pure numeric domains were permitted. The new domains were assigned on October 23, 2009 within a few minutes.
  • In 2010 the regional court in Frankfurt am Main had to decide another lawsuit against DENIC. The trigger was the loss of gewinn.de , against which the previous owner wanted to defend himself legally due to the high value of the domain. Ultimately, the court ruled that the owner was responsible for mistakes made by his domain name registrar . A (joint) responsibility of DENIC was excluded. It was also expressly made clear that information in the Whois database about the owner of a .de domain does not necessarily have to be binding, but that the actual ownership structure may vary.
  • The Free State of Bavaria also litigated DENIC from 2008 after Panamanian companies had registered numerous .de domains with reference to the administrative districts of Lower Franconia , Middle Franconia and Upper Franconia as well as Upper Palatinate . According to the principles of liability for interference , the Free State requested the registry to delete the addresses concerned, which was initially rejected. In June 2010, however, the Federal Court of Justice affirmed the Free State's claims and imposed an extended audit obligation on DENIC, according to which .de domains must be deleted immediately in the event of clear legal violations .


  • Thomas Linke: Self-regulated dispute resolution for German domains . In: Writings on business and media law, tax law and civil procedure law . Lang , Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-631-53694-1 .
  • Gordon Böhme: domain names . A mirror of the German language? AV Akademikerverlag , Saarbrücken 2011, ISBN 978-3-639-38280-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b statistics about .de. DENIC, accessed on May 27, 2020 (current .de domain number).
  2. Delegation Record for .DE. IANA, accessed June 13, 2013 .
  3. ^ Domain Name Industry Brief (DNIB) - Verisign. Retrieved December 30, 2018 .
  4. Press release: DENIC makes the dozen full. April 14, 2008, accessed September 23, 2016 .
  5. FAQs for DENICdirect customers. In: DENICdirect Service Center. DENIC, accessed on September 23, 2016 .
  6. ^ Daniel Dingeldey: One domain, many contracts. In: domain-right. January 30, 2003, accessed on June 13, 2013 : “If the domain owner does not want to switch between a provider, he can register the domain directly with DENIC. (...) In addition, the domain registration with DENICdirect does not contain internet access and no web space; You then have to get them separately, which causes additional costs. "
  7. https://www.denic.de/wissen/statistiken/internationale-domainstatistik/
  8. Florian Hitzelberger: .de shortly before the 10 million wall! In: domain-right. June 22, 2006, accessed June 16, 2013 .
  9. ^ Regional distribution of .de domains at the end of 2011. DENIC, archived from the original on July 2, 2012 ; Retrieved July 8, 2012 .
  10. .de domain distribution according to residents. In: Domains.info. December 12, 2014, archived from the original on December 13, 2014 ; Retrieved December 12, 2014 .
  11. DENIC's number games. In: united-domains blog. May 31, 2012, accessed July 8, 2012 .
  12. Domain guidelines. DENIC, accessed on April 11, 2016 : “The minimum length of a domain is one, the maximum length is 63 characters; if the domain contains letters from the annex, the version of the domain ("A label") coded in accordance with Request for Comments 5890 in the so-called ACE form is decisive for the maximum length. "
  13. Why aren't domains registered that contain a hyphen in the 3rd and 4th positions? In: Frequently Asked Questions. DENIC, accessed on May 27, 2020 .
  14. ^ Gordon Böhme: Development of the hyphens used in SLD. Retrieved May 27, 2020 .
  15. Can persons or institutions not resident in Germany register a .de domain? DENIC, accessed on July 20, 2018 .
  16. ↑ Name server and NSentry entries. In: background. DENIC, accessed on June 15, 2013 .
  17. Domain conditions. DENIC, accessed on June 15, 2013 (cf. § 4 Remuneration).
  18. Frequently asked questions about Transit. DENIC, accessed on June 15, 2013 : "DENIC uses TRANSIT to describe a process that ensures that a domain owner does not lose his domain if it is no longer managed by a DENIC member."
  19. ^ ICANN: General Counsel's Analysis of VeriSign Global Registry Services' Request for Amendment to Registry Agreement. Retrieved May 27, 2020 (English).
  20. Redemption Grace Period for .de domains. DENIC , accessed on January 29, 2014 .
  21. Reiko Kaps: DeNIC accelerates provider changes. In: heise nets. November 17, 2008, accessed June 15, 2013 .
  22. Florian Hitzelberger: DENIC is changing the process. In: domain-right. January 21, 2010, accessed June 15, 2013 .
  23. Ulrich Wisser: Securing the Domain Name System with DNSSEC. In: heise.de. January 15, 2010, accessed on May 27, 2020 : “The administrator of a domain uses DNSsec to cryptographically sign the name entries in his name server. Additional resource records are created for this, so that DNSsec responses are longer than conventional DNS responses. The additional DNS records are sent as part of the DNS response for inquiries so that recipients can first check whether the response is integer, i.e. not falsified. "
  24. Florian Hitzelberger: DENIC starts testing. In: domain-right. July 9, 2009, accessed June 15, 2013 .
  25. Florian Hitzelberger: DENIC starts domain signing. In: domain-right. January 14, 2010, accessed June 15, 2013 .
  26. DENIC, eco and BSI: Initiative for more security in the domain name system. DENIC, May 13, 2009, accessed June 15, 2013 (press release).
  27. Jürgen Kuri: BGH rejects Kurt Biedenkopf's lawsuit against Internet domain. In: heise online. February 19, 2004, accessed June 14, 2013 .
  28. ^ Daniel Dingeldey: Defeat for King Kurt. In: domain-right. February 27, 2004, accessed June 14, 2013 .
  29. Holger Bleich: eBay.de: Domain capers made easy. In: heise online. August 30, 2004, accessed June 14, 2013 .
  30. Florian Hitzelberger: DENIC thwarted domain theft. In: domain-right. September 2, 2004, accessed on June 14, 2013 : “The popular Internet auction house eBay fell victim to what is probably the most spectacular attempt to date to take over a .de domain: like DENIC eG, which is responsible for managing all .de domains confirmed, the domain ebay.de was in the hands of a private person for a few hours last weekend. "
  31. Andreas Wilkens: For the time being, no lawsuit against eBay hijackers. In: heise online. September 7, 2004, accessed on June 14, 2013 : "eBay is currently not planning any legal action against the 19-year-old from the Helmstedt district, who redirected the auction house's website at the end of August."
  32. Daniel Dingeldey: DENIC has to award vw.de to Volkswagen. In: domain-right. June 26, 2008, accessed June 14, 2013 .
  33. nh.de, q9.de, j2.de. In: united-domains blog. October 23, 2009. Retrieved September 17, 2012 .
  34. ^ Daniel Dingeldey: Court confirms relocation against will. In: domain-right. September 3, 2010, accessed June 14, 2013 .
  35. Florian Hitzelberger: BGH ruled again on liability for interference. In: domain-right. July 23, 2010, accessed on June 15, 2013 : “The Free State of Bavaria had complained in January 2008 that several domains related to the administrative districts of Bavaria, including the addresses regierung-mittelfranken.de and regierung-oberfranken.de , regierungunterfranken.de and regierung-oberpfalz.de had been registered for the benefit of several companies based in Panama. "
  36. ↑ Duty to check for DENIC: Not everyone is allowed to order .de domains. In: united-domains blog. Retrieved July 8, 2012 .