The .ie domain was managed by University College Dublin since its delegation from Jon Postel in 1989, until the creation of IE Domain Registry (IEDR) in 2000; the university is still the IANA Sponsoring Organization. The IEDR is considered more conservative than other similar authorities and places certain restrictions on registration. The .ie ccTLD is primarily a business orientated ccTLD for Irish businesses and businesses doing business in or with Ireland. It has allowed personal domain name (PDN) registrations though these would only account for approximately 1% of the number of .ie domain registrations.
Registration policies have been liberalised somewhat in recent years and rules such as the one against registering generic domain names have been dropped. Applicants for .ie domain names still have to provide proof of entitlement to the domain that they want to register.
The .ie ccTLD is operated on a managed registry basis by IEDR. As a result, some town and village websites have opted for a .com domain instead. These websites are often voluntarily run by residents. Most of the town, city and county councils have registered their .ie domain. The .ie ccTLD has strong restrictions on the registration of geographic names and will generally permit only the town, city or county council to register such names.
The retail cost of a .ie domain can be anywhere from -5 to -100. At the upper end of this price range, it is more expensive than a domain in a TLD such as .com or .net. This traditionally high price has ensured that .ie has grown more slowly than the number of Irish registered .com/.net/.org/.biz/.info domains. However IEDR has been reducing the wholesale (trade) price of .ie over the last few years and the number of registered .ie domains has been growing accordingly. It is has exceeded parity with the number of .com domains registered hosted on Irish hosters.
The normal way of registering a .ie domain is via a Registrar though it is possible to register a domain directly through IEDR. A direct registration is typically more expensive.
There is no official second level domain policy yet. However some obvious second level domains such as edu.ie and gov.ie exist. There has been discussion in the Irish internet community over the years about introducing second level domains though little has been done.
The Irish Government uses subdomains of the gov.ie domain for many of its websites but each government department now has its own .ie domain. The main Irish Government portal website is at irlgov.ie.
A number of domain names, typically those of other TLDs, two letter domains and potentially offensive domains (such as porn.ie) are forbidden from being registered. However two character domains consisting of one letter and one number are permitted. The only exception to the two letter rule is the ul.ie domain which was registered by the University of Limerick before the rule came into effect. The domains in the forbidden category will return a record for a WHOIS query but they are not in the .ie zone.
In April 2008 the number of registered .ie domains exceeded 100,000. A minor part of that growth was due to the introduction of Personal Domain Names in October 2007. A Personal Domain Name allowed an individual to register their own name or a variant of it with a utilities bill or passport as proof of entitlement. The .ie extension is growing in popularity in Ireland. While it has not yet surpassed the number of Irish owned .com domain names it is the preferred extension for new Irish businesses. Approximately 130 new .ie domains are registered each working day.
As of 16 July 2011, there are 165,940 registered .ie domain names.