As a digital nomad of sorts–though I don’t roam much–I have a focus on Southeast Asia and, specifically, Vietnam. I frequently come up with ideas for blogs or websites or various pursuits that would allow me to use my Vietnamese language skills to target the content consumption audience living in Vietnam. If I ever take one of these ideas to the next level, I would be interested in obtaining a locally branded domain name, or a domain name with the top-level domain of .vn to add legitimacy to my venture. With that thought in mind, I was curious what requirements would be imposed should I seek to register a .vn domain name.
.vn is Vietnam’s top-level domain. It is controlled by the Vietnam National Internet Center (VNNIC). They are the ones who issue permission for .vn domain names and who enforce the resolutions of disputes between potential registrants. They issue all of the rules for applications and shut down domain names in violation of national laws. But they are not the ones you contact in order to register a .vn domain name.
You can obtain a .vn domain name by registering with one of nine specified registrars in Vietnam–and a few additional service providers for international registrants. The list includes: pavietnam.vn, matbao, gmoz.com, nhanhoa.com, inet, vnpt, esc.vn, viettel, and vinahost. Additional registrars are available for applicants located outside Vietnam. You can find links to each at https://www.vnnic.vn/nhadangky/. While you can use one of these private industry registrars, there remain certain elements which must be satisfied regardless of your chosen provider.
Characteristics of a .vn Domain Name
The domain name you choose must not:
- include important geographical features of Vietnam such as islands, maritime features, seas, etc.;
- include the names of recognized UNESCO heritage sites in Vietnam;
- include the names of the party, organs, or elements of the politico-social structure of the country;
- cite things relevant to the national security, safety, and well being of the nation; or
- include other elements considered relevant to good morals and tradition of society.
Use of sub-domains such as .com.vn, .edu.vn, .gov.vn, etc., must be within the sectors properly represented by such sub-domains. Requested domain names must also not infer negative social, moral, or traditional implications whether in Vietnamese or another language or as pronounced in Vietnamese without tones. They must use letters and numbers, may use “-” so long as it is not the first or last character, may use Vietnamese tones if represented using ASCII characters, and must not be more than 63 characters long.
Requirements of .vn Domain Name Registrants
Individuals or organizations using .vn domain names must ensure the truthfulness and accuracy of all information included in their registration for use of the domain name and must refrain from infringing on the lawful rights and interests of other individuals or organizations in relation to such information. They must, additionally, be responsible for the management and use of their domain names in accordance with law.
If there are problems with the registration, management or use of the .vn domain name, the registrant must cooperate with the relevant authorities and provide requested information. If registration information changes, or the domain name is to change, the registrant must make such changes through the officially listed registrars (see above). They must cooperate with the VNNIC and authorities in prevention of abuse of .vn domain names for illegal activities and enact security measures to protect the .vn domain name from violations of the law and customs.
And, importantly, registrants of .vn domain names must ensure that cyber crimes are not conducted on their sites and cooperate with Vietnam authorities in preventing cyber crimes as defined by the Law on Cyber Security 2018.
Dealing with Disputes
Once you’ve applied, or registered your domain name, what happens if someone else has registered, or claims your domain name? Or, when you apply for your domain name you find that someone else has already registered it and you think they are committing an act of cyber squatting?
In general, the VNNIC operates on a first come, first served basis. Unfortunately, there frequently occurs the situation in which a domestic user has registered a domain name that is subsequently claimed by a well known international brand. Whether the original registration was intended to cause problems and make a profit off the well known brand or not, there can occur a dispute. In resolving disputes such as this, the parties can resort to private negotiations, arbitration, or file suit at court.
A plaintiff seeking relief, will be granted it if:
- the domain name in dispute is identical or similar to the name, brand, or trademark of the plaintiff so as to cause confusion;
- the defendant does not have legal rights or interests in the domain name;
- the defendant leases a confusing domain name to the plaintiff or a competitor;
- the defendant interferes with the plaintiff’s registration of a domain name in an effort to stifle competition;
- the defendant seeks to damage or harm the reputation or business of the plaintiff by use of the domain name; or
- other cases where the defendant is seen to infringe the lawful rights and interests of the plaintiff by use of the domain name.
Defendants, on the other hand, may offer the following defenses in their registration and use of the domain name:
- that the defendant used or intended to use the domain name in a legitimate way for the sale or provision of services, goods, or products before the dispute arose;
- the defendant is known by such domain name by the public despite the failure to register such a brand, trade name, or mark;
- the defendant is properly using the domain name for other legitimate reasons not causing confusion with the plaintiff’s identifiers; or
- the defendant provides other proof demonstrating the legality of the defendant’s use of the domain name.
Once the conflict has been resolved and registered as a settlement, arbitral award, or court judgment the victorious party may take the minutes of such to the VNNIC and seek the appropriate action regarding the domain name in dispute.
Other Info of Note
One thing that I was curious about before reading through the research for this blog was the possibility that a registrant of a .vn domain name might have to land servers for their site within the territory of Vietnam. I had previously–back when the relevant regulations first came out in 2013–read the rules, but only remembered a vague requirement for housing servers in Vietnam. At the time this was a crucial and contentious point. But upon review, it is not necessary for the registrant of a .vn domain name to house servers for their site in Vietnam, that requirement applies to higher level providers such as ISPs and companies involved with information technology infrastructure.
For the specific application procedures and information necessary, please visit the site listed above to link to one of the registrars. They each have slightly different requirements and are transparent in their declaration. Importantly, if you are going to register a .vn domain name, know the rules for naming conventions and the proofs necessary to retain control of your domain name should another party dispute its use. Otherwise, good luck.
Research assistance for this post was provided by Dan Pham.