Why you need a Canada domain name

6 min read
Erin Hutchison

Canadian entrepreneurs are an upbeat group, according to last year’s Global Entrepreneurship Survey conducted by GoDaddy. Those with websites are particularly hopeful, with more than two-thirds of them expecting their ventures to grow over the next few years. These small business owners will tell you that one of the most important ingredients for success is establishing a connection with your target audience. And that if your target is Canadian, you should seriously consider a Canada domain for your website.

83% of Canadian internet users prefer to support businesses that have .ca at the end of their web addresses.

Like every other country, Canada has its own two-letter domain extension. Shorter than .com, which can be registered by anyone anywhere in the world, .ca identifies your website as distinctly Canadian.

Why does Canada have its own domain?

Back in the early days of the internet, most countries were assigned a two-letter domain called a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD for short). This is something you might have noticed if you’ve traveled to a different country — if you’ve ever been to Mexico for example, you might have noticed they use .mx domain for Mexico-based businesses.

Canada’s dedicated ccTLD of .ca is fairly straightforward — although I must say .eh would have been cool, too. There are over 2.8 million .ca domain names currently on the books.

Who can register a .ca domain?

Some ccTLDs have restrictions on who is eligible to register a domain name. One of the most common restrictions is a residency requirement. In many countries, an individual or business that wishes to register that country’s ccTLD must have a physical location in that country.

Whether or not a ccTLD enforces a presence requirement is up to the registry (the organization that manages the domain). In the case of .ca, the registry is the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA).

.ca domains can only be registered by Canadian citizens and businesses, organizations and community groups that have a presence in Canada.

This requirement effectively does two things:

1. It keeps .ca Canadian

Canada Domain Toronto CN Tower

When Canadians see a .ca domain, they know automatically that it means the site is Canadian. Having this association can help you with your business goals if you’re targeting a Canadian audience.

This is not true of every ccTLD. The .co domain, for example, was originally assigned to Colombia. However, in 2010, the presence requirements were lifted and now anyone in the world can register a .co domain.

While this has led to a lot more .co registrations, there is no longer a strong association between the domain and Colombia.

2. You could have better luck getting the web address you want

Many people come up with terrific business names only to find the matching .com is already registered to someone else.

If the web address you’re searching for isn’t available in .com, try .ca.

When you’re doing a domain lookup for .ca, you may have an easier time finding an available domain that:

  • Exactly matches your business name
  • Is short and memorable
  • Contains a keyword relevant to your business

If you’re stuck on what domain name to register, read CIRA’s guide on how to choose a great .ca domain name for your business.

Related: How to do a business name search

But wait — there’s more!

Here are three more good reasons to choose .ca:

Trusted from coast to coast

As mentioned earlier, Canadians like to do business with other Canadians. In fact, 83% of Canadian internet users prefer to support businesses using the .ca for their websites.

A search advantage

Search engines like Google give country code TLDs like .ca preferred ranking when Canadians search online.

When it comes to getting found online, you want search engines as your friends.

Using this domain name makes it easier for Canadian businesses to get found on search engines, which is how many of your visitors will discover your business.

Supports a good cause

For every .ca domain that is registered, CIRA.ca contributes a portion of the registration fee to grants that fund projects designed to help improve the internet in Canada.

What types of businesses should choose a .ca domain?

While many business owners are quick to think of .com first, there are some good reasons why you might want to consider going with a .ca domain name for your website.

Buying a domain name that’s a recognized symbol of Canada online is ideal if you’re building a website for:

1. A service-based business that only has Canadian customers

Sectors like finance or healthcare are very specific to Canadians, while local services like a barbershop or a dry cleaner would only want Canadians visiting their sites. Example: ViaRail.ca

2. Any business that proudly sells Canadian products

Canada Domain Quebec Street
Canadians trust any web address ending in .ca.

You know, like maple syrup or mittens that will keep you warm and allow you to text in -40 degree weather. Example: LocalLaundry.ca

3. A Canadian version of a multinational business or organization

Many companies set up a geo-targeted version of their site, which includes text in both official languages, prices listed in Canadian dollars and a local domain. Example: Care.ca

Another thing you’ll see some Canadian businesses do is citing a .ca web address in marketing materials, which they then forward to their primary .com web address. This is super simple to do.

It also ensures you cover all of your bases in protecting your brand’s online assets. By owning both the .ca and .com versions of your business domain name, you prevent copycats from registering one of them and using it to pull business away from you.

Get your Canada domain name today

If you’re looking to build a website with a domain name Canadians will remember, keep in mind:

  • Only individuals, corporations and organizations with a Canadian presence can register a .ca domain name
  • Canadian internet users trust .ca
  • .ca is the only domain that shows visitors in an instant that your website is Canadian

So go ahead — see if your .ca domain name is available now!

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