Domain Name Regulations in Turkey and in Singapore

ADMD Law Office / Camille Balfroid 

1. Domain Names

 The domain names are parts of a larger system (Domain Name System – DNS) that is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to internet or a private network. It translates easily memorized domain names to the numerical IP addresses needed for the purpose of locating computer services and devices worldwide enabling internet users to remember those addresses more easily.

 As noted above domain names are hierarchical but the hierarchy shall be read in the reverse order. The lower host is to be written first, then the main hosts are indicated and the names ends with the top-level domain. These top-level domains can be generic (gTLDs) such as ''.com'' ; ''.net'' ; ''.org'' or peculiar to a country (country code top level domains, ccTLDs) such as ''.us''; ''.tr''; ''.sg''. 

In 1984, the DNS was created by the Internet Activities Board in the United States (IAB, which today became the Internet Architecture Board) to ensure the management of domain names. The DNS is a distributed database of domain names which converts these names into IP addresses for network router use. It does not reside in one single location, rather it is each domain name server which manages its portion of the address. Moreover, the DNS is not limited by a certain number of valid combinations, unlike the IP addresses. 

Until 1995, the registration of domain names was free of charge and were administered by the United States National Sciences Foundation. Due to its inability to pursue the subsidization of domain names registration, the National Sciences Foundation privatized the service and granted a tech company called ‘Network Solutions’ the right to charge fees for registration. Network Solutions initially charged US$100 to register a domain name for two years and in 1998, the United States Department of Commerce decided to privatize the DNS, which at the time was controlled by the U.S. Government in order to increase competition in the market and encourage more participation internationally. 

The same year, U.S. Administration under President Clinton took the decision to establish the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that is a non-profit private company based on a multi-stakeholder model as it is formed by many representatives of the business, public and academic sectors. ICANN is currently recognized as a global consensus entity which role is to coordinate the technical management of the DNS, the allocation of IP address space, the assignment of protocol parameters, and the management of the root server system. States are also involved in coordination with ICANN. Indeed, they are free to manage and adopt policies regarding their own ccTLDs and their subsequent domain names level such as ''''; ''''; ''''. 

2. Domain Names in Turkey

 The first internet connection was provided in Turkey in 1991. This was the result of the collaboration between ICANN and the Middle East Technical University. The Turkish country code top level name was determined as ''.tr'' and registrations under this ccTLD also started in 1991. Today, applicants can also apply second level domain names. Indeed, they have the choice between two types of structures: '''' or ''''.

2.1. Domain Name Legislation in Turkey

Legislation on domain names in Turkey is relatively new. The Law No. 27752 on Electronic Communication was enacted in November 2008. Article 35 of that law concerns domain names and provides that: « the designation of the organization or institution that will allocate internet domain names and procedures and principles regarding the management of domain name shall be determined by the Ministry [of Transport and Communications]».

Consequently, in November 2010, the Ministry of Transport and Communications adopted the Ordinance No. 27752 on Internet Domain Names (the Ordinance). This document is the first legal text which regulate domain names in Turkey. It provides rules concerning the structure, the registration and the transactions of domain names. Moreover, the Ordinance states the rights and obligations of registrars and registrants. It transfers the functions and tasks of the Middle East Technical University to the Information Communication Technologies Authority which will be responsible for the management of domain names registrations and transfers through TRABIS, a newly created database. Lastly, the regulation provides for the creation of a dispute settlement mechanism. 

Previously, the management of ''.tr'' domain names was undertaken by Administration (".tr" Domain Names) an entity formed within the Computer Center of the Middle East Technical University. The policies, rules and procedures applicable to domain names were defined by the Administration. In accordance with the first provisional article of the Ordinance on Internet Domain Names, the existing mechanism will continue until the activation of TRABIS. 

As of July 2014, Administration is still in charge of the management of domain names and has the responsibility to support the Information Communication Technologies Authority and the TRABIS activation process which is yet being structured. 

2.2. Registration of Domain Names in Turkey

Natural and legal persons can apply for the registration of their domain names at the condition that they respect the relevant substantive and procedural requirements. They are also allowed to apply for more than one domain name. However, the maximum duration of registration for a domain name is five (5) years, at the end of which term it becomes renewable or subject to a new application. However, it shall also be noted that such registration criteria is applicable to domain names containing a ccTLDs (in this case .tr). 

2.2.1. Substantive Criteria to Register Domain Names in Turkey

 Article 6 of the Ordinance on Internet Domain Names provides that in the structures '''' or '''', the ''a'' part should: 

  • Be composed of only letters (a-z), numbers (0-9) and dash (-) sign,
  • Contain minimum two characters, maximum sixty three characters long,
  • Not begin with and/or ending with hyphen (-),
  • Not contain a hyphen (“-”) in the third and fourth positions simultaneously,
  • Not be already registered as a domain name to anyone else,
  • Not be part of the reserved list.

 These criteria shall be met in order for the domain names to be registered.

2.2.2.       Procedure to Register Domain Names in Turkey

Under the current framework, the ones who desire to apply for a domain name in Turkey shall fill the form available on the website of the Administration. In accordance with the ''.tr'' Domain Name Policies, Rules and Procedures, the registration of domain names requires the submission of specific documents in most of the case. For an exhaustive list of the documents which shall be submitted, more information can be found at ''.tr'' Domain Name Policies, Rules and Procedures, available at webpage:

In comparison, the Ordinance introduces a new system which aims to simplify the current procedure and to increase competition among registrars. Indeed, to register their domain names, individuals or legal entities shall apply to one of the registrars announced by (listed at the web page of) the Information Communication Technologies Authority. The applicants shall complete the relevant forms accurately and completely for the registration to be processed. 

In accordance with Article 8 of the Ordinance on Internet Domain Names, domain names can be registered by using one of the two methods: documentary and non-documentary. Non-documentary registration of domain names is performed on a ''first-come, first-served'' basis. The determination of first arrival is determined by the time on record of the application in the domain names database (TRABIS). This is a new principle introduced by the Ordinance as it does not apply under the current regulatory framework established by the Administration. 

The following structures of domain names do not need additional (proof of specific business, status or license etc.) documents to be registered: 













 Documentary domain name registration is completed when the required information or documents are provided to the registrar and transmitted to TRABIS. In the current provisional situation, documents have to be submitted to the Administration. 

In order to register the following domain names, specific status and documents need to be submitted to the relevant authority: 


Lawyers registered in Turkish Bar, Association, legal companies and lawyer partnerships.


Public Agencies.


Municipalities placed in records of Ministry of Interior.


Divisions within General Directorate of Security.


Medical Doctors registered in Turkish Medical Association, MD partnerships, hospitals and 1st grade health institutions of Ministry of Health.


Pre-school crèches, nursery schools, elementary schools, high school recognized by Ministry of Education.


Colleagues recognized by the Council of Higher Education.


Divisions within Turkish Army, Navy and Air force.


 2.3. Legal Transactions on Registered Domain Names in Turkey

The Ordinance on Internet Domain Names regulates a limited number of legal transactions regarding registered domain names in Turkey that are summarized below:  

2.3.1. Renewal of Registered Domain Names in Turkey

Article 8 of the Ordinance provides that domain names can be registered for a period of five years at maximum and Article 9 states the conditions under which the initial registration could be renewed. Accordingly, the registrar shall inform the domain name holder no later than three (3) months before the expiration date of the registration and advise them on the renewal procedure. 

The registrant who wishes to extend its registered domain names is then bound to apply for renewal within such remaining three (3) months. If the procedure is not completed in due time, use of the domain name will be stopped for a period of two (2) months. Renewals cannot exceed five year terms as well and therefore every five years a renewal application needs to be made. 

2.3.2. Waiver of Registered Domain Names in Turkey

In accordance with Article 10 of the Ordinance on Internet Domain Names, holders of domain names who wish to terminate their registration before the expiration date may waive their rights on such domain names. For the purposes, they should fill in the relevant form and submit it to their registrar who shall convey the request and complete the procedure at TRABIS system. The domain names that are waived becomes eligible for re-registration by another party. 

2.3.3. Sale & Transfer of Registered Domain Names in Turkey

 Article 13 of the Ordinance entitles registrants to sell and transfer their domain names. This is a significant change brought by this regulation since under the current framework, the transfer of a domain name was only possible in very limited and specific circumstances. Indeed, according to the '.tr'' Domain Name Policies, Rules and Procedures, domain names may only be transferred on condition that is the transfer of the certified rights (trademark and patent rights etc.) which are the ground of domain name registrations. 

Under the regime introduced by the Ordinance, it is necessary to register the change of ownership accurately in the TRABIS database. In order to be completed, the applicant shall correctly and accurately fill out the form available in the website of the serving registrar. 

Currently, the Ordinance does not provide for specific criteria regarding the form of the selling or transferring contract or whether a certified version is required. However, Provisional Article 2 of the Ordinance sets a transition period of three (3) years following the entry into force of this legal text during which the sale of domain names are prohibited. It is likely that amendments or modifications will be made to the Ordinance during that period such that they will provide more details regarding the requirements and formalities which have to be fulfilled to sell or transfer domain names. 

Finally, one shall also note that the sale or transfer of the domain names does not affect the expiration period. In cases of death, absence, declaration of absence by natural persons, domain name shall be transferred to heir-at-law. 

2.3.4. Re-registration of Available Domain Names in Turkey

A domain name becomes eligible for re-registration by any party, if no renewal application is made at the end of the registration period. However, applications for re-registration are not accepted in the first month following the expiration date, allowing some additional time for the previous right holder. 

2.4. Dispute Settlement Regarding Registered Domain Names in Turkey

Currently, there is no arbitration mechanism for the resolution of disputes pertaining to domain names in Turkey. Instead, the DNS Working Group, which is a counseling group operating within the structure of the Administration and consists of eleven corporate members of sector representatives, exercises a counseling function regarding domain names dispute resolution. 

Nevertheless, in certain situations, a party can fill a complaint in front of the Turkish commercial courts on the ground of unfair competition. In the case E. 2007/1677, the High Court decided that since there is no legislation on domain names in Turkey, claims related to the use of domain names could be introduced in front of the Turkish commercial courts granted that: (i) the domain name is definite and constitute a tool to promote the mark it is associated with; (ii) it satisfies the requirements which should be fulfilled for trademark registration. If a domain name satisfies these conditions then the commercial courts may provide remedy on basis of unfair competition for claims of misuse or violation of related rights.

 However, the Ordinance on Internet Domain Names is targeting to change this situation by introducing an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. In accordance with Article 23 of the Ordinance, Dispute Resolution Service Providers (DRSP) are in charge of operating dispute resolution mechanism. Entities that desire to be certified as DRSP should satisfy the requirements imposed by the Information Communication Technologies Authority and respect the rules taken by the latter Authority. 

DRSP will be responsible to manage, administratively and technically, a list of arbitrators who are competent enough to handle potential disputes. Moreover, those arbitrators will be bound to apply the principles and procedures endorsed by the Information Communication Technologies Authority. They shall also demonstrate in a written statement their independence and neutrality concerning the domain names and the parties to the dispute. 

In order for a case to be treated through such dispute resolution mechanism, the following conditions shall cumulatively be met: 

  • Disputed domain name is similar or same with a trademark, business name, company name or any other identifier marks,
  • The owner of the domain name has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name,
  • The domain name had been registered or is being used in bad faith.

 Finally, DRSP could seize their activities upon notification to the Authority and granted that the arbiters have finalized the disputes which they had to solve.


3. Domain Names in Singapore

 In the early stage of internet in Singapore, the management of domain names was administered by the Technet Unit of the National University of Singapore (NUS). In 1995, the National Computer Board took over the registry functions of Technet before the Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC) was established in 1997.

 Today, it is SGNIC which manages the database information and names servers for the ''.sg'' domain names and all the subsequent second level domain names.

 3.1. Domain Name Legislation in Singapore

 The Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore Act was adopted in 2000 to establish the Info-communications Development Authority (IDA) which replaced the National Computer Board.

 The second schedule of the IDA Act lays down the powers of the Authority. In accordance with the paragraph 32 of the second schedule, the Info-communications Development Authority has the competence «to authorize or regulate the registration, administration and management of domain names in Singapore». Consequently, SGNIC became a subsidiary of IDA with the responsibility of managing and regulating top level and second level ''.sg'' domain names.

 SGNIC has adopted various instruments which govern and organize the domain name system. The Registration Policies, Procedures and Guidelines (RPPG), modified in May 2012, contain rules  defining the structures of domain names, the procedure to be followed to apply for and renew  domain names as well as the criteria to be respected by registrant to use their domain names.

 The Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy lays down the organization of the dispute settlement mechanism. It provides for the substantive elements deciding disputes, the composition of panels and the competences of SGNIC regarding the resolution of domain names disputes. The Policy is complemented by the Rules of procedure for the Singapore Domain Name Resolution.

 3.2. Registration of Domain Name in Singapore

 In Singapore, registrants shall apply for ''.sg'' domain names or the following second level domain names structures: ''’’; ''''; ''''; ''''; '''' and ''''. Different criteria apply to each structure of domain names. Some requirements concern most of the domain names structures whereas other elements can be specific to a particular structure. 

3.2.1. Substantive Criteria to Register Domain Names in Singapore

 The first paragraph of the RPPG provides that domain names shall contain a string of minimum one (1) character and can contain a maximum of sixty-three (63) characters. More precisely, domain names should be composed of letters “a” through “z” (no further distinction is made between minuscule and capital letters), numerals 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and/or 9. The hyphen character is authorized as long as it is not the beginning or ending character of a domain name. Finally, certain non-Latin characters could be accepted, granted that they originate from the Chinese or Tamil alphabets. One shall note that a domain name could combine Latin and Chinese or Tamil characters. However, registrants are not allowed to mix Chinese and Tamil characters in the same domain names. 

The registrant shall also warrant that « the domain name applied for: (i) shall not infringe any registered trade mark in Singapore nor will it give rise to a cause of action in passing off; (ii) shall not be identical to or confusingly similar with either a registered trade mark, company or business name in Singapore; and (iii) shall not infringe the rights of any third parties in relation to any applicable treaties or international agreements ». 

The third paragraph of the RPPG lays down the rules which specifically regulate each domain name. Accordingly, every individual or entities is entitled to apply for a domain name registered under the ''.sg'' ccTLD. This includes foreigners as long as they appoint a local agent who possesses a valid address in Singapore. In addition, specific requirements shall be met by the registrants to apply for second level domain names: 


Registrant is a commercial entity registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority at the point of application.


Registrant shall be registered with the Registry of Societies at the time of application.


Registrant is a commercial entity registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority at the point of application. Moreover, it should principally be involved in the business of (1) operating info-comm networks or providing info-comm services; and/or (2) providing data storage facilities or hosting services.


Registrant shall be an educational institution registered with the Ministry of Education at the point of application.


Registrant is from part of the Government of Singapore.


Registrant shall be either a Singapore citizen or a permanent resident aged of 18 years and above. Parents or legal guardians may apply on behalf of a registrant who is below 18 years.


3.2.2. Procedure to Register Domain Names in Singapore

 In order to register their domain names, registrants should complete an online form on the website of one of the registrars appointed by SGNIC. Usually, registrants are free to choose the registrar of their choice but this is not the case for '''' domain names where registration shall be done by a specific registrar designated by SGNIC.

 In accordance with the fifth paragraph of the RPPG, domain names shall be allocated on a first-come first-served basis provided that all the necessary document and information have been submitted by the registrant to the registrar.

 There is no non-documentary registration in Singapore. Each model of second level domain names implies that the registrant transfer the documents required to obtain the domain name to the registrar.

 Finally, the eighth paragraph of the RPPG provides that the initial period of registration is either one or two years.

 3.3. Legal Transactions on Registered Domain Names in Singapore

 In combination with the Registrant Agreement, the RPPG contain the rules which govern the different transactions which could be undertaken with domain names.

 3.3.1. Removal of Registered Domain Names in Singapore

 Registrants may remove their domain names by submitting a written request duly signed to the registrar.

 3.3.2. Renewal of Registered Domain Names in Singapore

 Registrants may apply for renewal prior to the expiry date at the condition that they pay the requisite fee. The renewal of a domain name extends the registration period to one (1) or two (2) years.

 3.3.3. Re-registration of Available Domain Names in Singapore

 In accordance with the eighth paragraph of the RPPG, the re-registration of domain names is possible after the Deletion Escrow Period. This period lasts for thirty (30) days and starts at the end of another period of thirty (30) days called the Post Expiry Grace Period. The beginning of these periods commences on the expiration date. Thus, domain names do not become immediately available for re-registration after the expiry date.

 3.3.4. Transfers of Registered Domain Names in Singapore

 Paragraph nine of the RPPG lays down two (2) different types of regimes in function of whether the registrants belong to the same registrar. Where the current and the new registrant applied to the same registrar, the transferee applicant shall submit the transfer request to the registrant in addition of proof of the bilateral agreement between the parties. The registrar should then inform the transferor registrant who has a period of seven (7) days to confirm or reject the transfer. If the transferor registrant does not answer to the registrar, the transfer will not occur.

 Where the current and new registrant belong to different registrar, coordination between the two registrars is necessary to undertake the transfer. Both registrars shall ensure that they obtain a proof of the bilateral agreement between the parties. Then, upon receiving the transfer request from the transferee applicant, the transferee registrar shall forward that request to the transferor registrar who himself will pass on the request to the transferor registrant for approval. In this case, if the transferor registrant does not answer within seven (7) days, the transfer will nevertheless be realized.

 3.4. Dispute Settlement Regarding Registered Domain Names in Singapore

 In accordance with the Rules of procedure for the Singapore Domain Names Dispute Resolution, the administrative resolution of domain name disputes is performed by the Singapore Mediation Centre and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. 

In order to decide disputes, panels should have been elected by the parties or failing that, appointed by the Singapore Mediation Centre or the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. The members of the panels shall be impartial and independent. They have the power to facilitate the mediation process between the parties and to decide a complaint on the basis of the statements and documents submitted by the parties. The following remedies are available to the panels: the cancellation of the domain names of the registrant or the transfer of this domain name to the complainant. To launch a complaint in front of an administrative panel, the complainant should assert that:

  •  The disputed domain name is identical or confusingly similar with a name, a trademark, a service mark in which he has rights
  • The registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name,
  • The domain name has been registered or is being used in bad faith.

 Regarding the last criteria, the SDRP provides that the following circumstances serve to evidence the registration or use of the domain name in bad faith:

  • The registrant has registered or acquired the domain names in the purpose of selling, renting or transferring it either to the complainant who bears the name or is the owner of a trademark or service mark or either to one of its competitor for valuable consideration, in excess of the registrant's investment,
  • The registrant has registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of a trademark or service mark to reflect the mark in a domain name,
  • The registrant has registered a domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor,
  • By using the domain name, the registrant has intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to the registrant's website by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's name or mark.

 The scope of the latter criteria is illustrated in the case SDRP No. 2002-0003, Google Inc. v. Googles Entertainment. This dispute opposed Google, the online search engine, to Googles Entertainment, a company incorporated in Singapore that offers services related to the organization of various events such as conferences, conventions or concerts.

 Google registered the domain name “” in 1997 and its trademark on the 22nd of July 2002. Googles Entertainment registered the domain names “” and “” on the 5th and 16th of July 2002. Google introduced a complaint against Googles Entertainment in September 2002.

 In its final decision, after having established that the two domain names were confusingly similar and that Google Entertainment did not possess rights or legitimate interests in the domain name, the panel ruled that the respondent also demonstrated bad faith. It came to this conclusion on the ground that the respondent failed to explain why it chose the word ''googles'' which is generally not associated to its business. Even, it chose that name with the intention of creating an association with the online search engine. On the basis of the preceding consideration and the fact that Googles Entertainment did not yet made any use of the domain names it registered, the administrative panel decided that the domain names at stake had to be transferred to the complainant, Google Inc.

 4. Conclusion

 In an era characterized by the growth of the activities developed through internet, it is essential that coherent and complete systems organizing domain names are established. In this perspective, it is interesting to analyze how different countries regulate the domain names relying on their ccTLDs.

 In Turkey, regulation was finally introduced in 2008 and further elaborated in 2010 with the Ordinance on Internet Domain Names. The Ordinance introduces several novelties and try to answer better the needs of ''.tr'' domain name users. It is remarkable that non-documentary domain names registration are now realized on a first-come first-served basis. The regulation also generates a more dynamic framework as it allows domain names to be sold, rented and transferred. Furthermore, the establishment of a dispute settlement mechanism is to be welcomed as it provides for a domain names conflicts resolution system which is more accessible and better designed to solve these conflicts. However, it is important to note that as of July 2014, it is still the provisional regime which applies to the domain names and it is still the Administration which manages them. It is therefore regrettable that the two years deadline announced in first provisional Article of the Ordinance given for the operations of the TRABIS database has not yet been respected.

 In Singapore, there is no public rules governing domain names. The Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore Act delegated the function of regulating and managing domain names to SGNIC, a company registered in Singapore. The period of registration is remarkably shorter in Singapore (2 years) than in Turkey (5 years). There are also less second level domain names available to the users. On the other hand, the dispute resolution mechanism has already been established and is thus performing its role in a more effective manner.

 Whether domain names are regulated by the State or a private entity, it is important that rules create a dynamic framework for the management of domain names. In this perspective, it is interesting to highlight that competition and international participation in the domain name system were concerns already existing in the 1990's.