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NIC.IO -- .IO Domain Registry
Introduced 1997
TLD type Country code top-level domain
Status Active
Registry NIC.IO (run by Internet Computer Bureau)
Sponsor IO Top Level Domain Registry (Cable and Wireless)
Intended use Entities connected with  British Indian Ocean Territory
Actual use Popular with startup companies; little of anything related to the territory itself.
Registration restrictions None for 2nd level registrations; 3rd level registrant must be resident of British Indian Ocean Territory
Structure Registrations are taken directly at the second level or at third level beneath various 2nd-level labels
Documents Terms & Conditions; Rules
Dispute policies Dispute Resolution Policy
Website NIC.IO

.io is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the British Indian Ocean Territory.[1]

The .io domain name is administered by the Internet Computer Bureau, a company based in the United Kingdom.[2]

Other than the Diego Garcia atoll, the territory has been uninhabited since the existing population was expelled in 1973 and has no government of its own. Google currently treats .io as a generic top-level domain (gTLD) because "users and webmasters frequently see [the domain] more generic than country-targeted".[3]


The .io domain extension has existed since 1997, and has grown steadily in popularity ever since. .io domains now compose 0.1% of all websites.[4]

The first IO-related domain to be registered was the domain data-io.com, which when it was registered in late 1986 was the 45th domain name ever to be registered.[5]

The first .io-domain was not registered until 1998, when Yahoo Inc registered the domain yahoo.io.[6]

The following table lists some of the first .io-domains to be registered:[5]

Date Domain Name
1998-07-15 yahoo.io
2000-03-31 whirlpool.io
2000-04-15 bud.io
2000-05-01 blockbuster.io
2000-06-16 diamond.io
2000-07-19 arrow.io
2000-08-31 sprint.io
2000-10-06 discovery.io
2000-11-20 art.io
2001-01-24 firestone.io
2001-02-27 monster.io
2001-04-18 enterprise.io
2001-06-15 canon.io
2001-08-20 eastman.io
2001-12-07 zurich.io
2002-03-01 tiffany.io
2002-03-28 dell.io
2002-06-14 cirrus.io
2002-07-08 defender.io
2002-07-29 coke.io
2002-10-01 google.io


Labels for .io domains may only contain alphanumeric characters and hyphens and must be between 3 and 63 characters long. Domain names can not begin with, or end with, a hyphen symbol, and may not contain two consecutive hyphens.[7][8] The entire domain name may not contain more than 253 characters.[9]


Image on center

The right to administer domain names is given to approved organisations by the IANA. The Internet Computer Bureau administers .io domains. The Internet Computer Bureau is a British company that, in addition to the right to sell .io-domains, also holds the right to sell .sh-domains and .ac-domains, the top-level domains for Saint Helena and the South Atlantic islands of Ascension.[10]

Registration and Restrictions[edit]

Both individuals and organisations are allowed to register .io-domains.

In order to register .io domains you must not be registered or established in the British Indian Ocean territory. In order to register third-level domains such as xyz.com.io you have to be an inhabitant of the area. Any second-level domains used by NIC.IO and top-level domains can not be used as a third-level domain. For example the domain "com.com.io", "org.com.io" and "biz.com.io" are all restricted.[11]

.io domains may not be used "for any purpose that is sexual or pornographic or that is against the statutory laws of any Nation". Breaching this requirement "NIC.IO reserves the right to immediately deactivate the offending registration".[11]

.io domains may be registered for a minimum of one year, and a maximum of 10 years.[12]

.io-domains are currently priced higher than many other domains, partly due to high demand. Registering available .io-domains starts from around £30 per year.[11][13]


To many[weasel words] the .io-domain is used with little thought of its origin.

"Nowadays, a lot of TLDs are used without any relation to the original country, such as .ly, .io, .me."

—Jens Segers - Founder of Auki.io, [1]

IO is also commonly used in IT as an abbreviation for input/output, which makes the .io domain useful for domain hacks and services wanting to be associated with technology.[14]

"We took it because it refers to ‘input-output’. And our customers (mostly tech savvy people) understand it like so."

—Ben Verbeken - Seats.io CEO, [2]


.io domains have become a popular alternative for startup companies.[15][16]

Online Services[edit]

IO also stands as an abbreviation for Internet Organization[citation needed]. In addition, .io domains are often used for open source projects, APIs (such as put.io API and pen.io API) and online services.[17]

Investing and Reselling[edit]

As with most domains, many .io domains are bought by third parties who do not intend to use them for websites. There is no exact figure of how many of the .io-domains that have been bought that are actually in use, but there have been multiple cases in which .io-domains have been sold for substantial amounts of money.

This table lists some .io-domains that have recently successfully been sold:[18]

Selling Price Domain Name
$40,000 n.io
$30,000 es.io
$30,000 x.io
$29,500 r.io
$24,600 doc.io
$10,000 food.io
$10,000 mega.io
$6,747 pay.io
$6,300 casino.io
$5,000 send.io


One of the main reasons behind this popularity is the availability of .io domains: Though it is often hard to find a fitting .com domain, there are plenty of corresponding .io domains available that have not yet been registered. This may be due in part to registrations being suppressed by the relatively high price of .io domain names.


The Internet Computer Bureau is required to give some of its profits to the British government, and then invests the rest in the DNS system.[19]

Each of Britain's overseas territories has an account which the British government puts money into for administration of the territories, and the profits from the .io domain names offset this cost.[19] However, due to the British expulsion of the native population from the territory, no indigenous Chagossians remain in the territory, the only residents being about 4000 United States military personnel and contractors.[20] For this reason, the indigenous Chagossians do not receive any monetary benefit from the sale of the domain names.

The sale of .io domain names has become a point of contention between Chagossians and the British.

"I am afraid that this is another example of the Chagossian people being robbed — when there were tuna fishing licences for sale the exiled Chagossians saw none of the profits, nor any of the tourist fees, nor of course the billions of pounds of rent paid by the U.S. military for leasing our homeland."

—Sabrina Jean - Chair of the U.K. Chagos Support Association, Gigaom

The president of the Diego Garcia and Chagos Islands Council, Allen Vincatassin, has stated that "we do not know what sort of income is being received from the sale of these internet domains and to what use it is being put", calling upon the U.K. to provide transparency in the process.[21]


218 out of the one million most popular websites use an .io–domain. These are the most popular domains using the .io domain extension:[16]

Rank Global Rank Domain name
1 4,362 soup.io
2 5,560 filecloud.io
3 9,112 codepen.io
4 16,348 imm.io
5 19,837 wp.io
6 23,223 pen.io
7 26,913 redis.io
8 27,701 galleria.io
9 35,936 put.io
10 39,852 ubiquity.io
11 42,226 intercom.io
12 43,463 media.io
13 50,170 hide.io
14 50,385 icomoon.io
15 52,197 laravel.io
16 60,814 plan.io
17 61,179 speed.io
18 61,795 c9.io
19 66,454 segment.io
20 72,797 airbrake.io
21 73,998 abc.io
22 76,880 rally.io
23 79,310 sidebar.io
24 87,244 emmet.io
25 89,976 plugg.io
26 90,557 kraken.io
27 92,715 sencha.io
28 96,531 rvm.io
29 98,843 proto.io
30 103,371 filepicker.io
31 104,820 avocado.io
32 105,127 draw.io
33 108,008 socket.io
34 108,162 8bit.io
35 110,479 brackets.io
36 114,671 movies.io
37 115,043 blitz.io
38 119,645 yeoman.io
39 119,898 engag.io
40 123,723 avenue.io
41 124,390 rcknr.io
42 125,211 contest.io
43 128,182 kvz.io
44 134,953 360.io
45 138,275 start.io
46 140,119 rad.io
47 142,154 gamechanger.io
48 142,846 exceptional.io
49 144,265 customer.io
50 145,512 easel.io
51 34,618 connecto.io


  1. ^ IDN Code Points Policy for the .IO Top Level Domain (PDF), NIC.IO 
  2. ^ "IANA -.io Domain Delegation Data", Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, 28 March 2014
  3. ^ "Geotargetable domains". Google. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Historical trends in the usage of top level domains for websites". Retrieved 2014-10-16. 
  5. ^ a b "The Oldest .io domains". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  6. ^ "NIC.IO - The Indian Ocean .IO Domain Registry and Network Information Centre - Whois Search". Retrieved 2014-12-29. 
  7. ^ ".IO Domain". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  8. ^ "Eigenschaften einer .io-Domain" (in German). United-Domains. 
  9. ^ RFC 1035, Domain names--Implementation and specification, P. Mockapetris (Nov 1987)
  10. ^ "Internet Computer Bureau". 
  11. ^ a b c "RULES for the .IO Domain and Sub-Domains". 
  12. ^ "Register dot IO (British Indian Ocean Territory) domain names". 
  13. ^ ".IO Domain at Gandi Rates". 
  14. ^ "WHY .IO?". 
  15. ^ "Popularity with startups". 
  16. ^ a b "Top Websites with .io". 
  17. ^ Beattie, Russell (2013-02-12). "The rise of .io domains for well crafted web services". Retrieved 2014-04-24. There's lots of open source projects (Redis, Brackets, Launcher), a few mobile-app landing pages (Avocado, X-Ray), a ton of new web apps and services, several conference pages (Lightning, Renaissance, Resonate) and a few older companies or organizations who've changed their name to take advantage of a cleaner .io name. 
  18. ^ "Flippa". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  19. ^ a b "The dark side of .io: How the U.K. is making web domain profits from a shady Cold War land deal", David Meyer, 30 June 2014
  20. ^ "CIA World Factbook - British Indian Ocean Territory", Central Intelligence Agency, 21 May 2014
  21. ^ Milmo, Cahal. "Government accused of profiting from sales of Chagos Islands '.io' domain name". Retrieved 4 September 2014. 

External links[edit]