The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) connects an Ethereum wallet's public key to a more friendly, readable set of letters, words, or characters.
For example, the Ethereum Name Service allowed Ethereum blockchain founder Vitalik Buterin to take his public key address "0xd8dA6BF26964aF9D7eEd9e03E53415D37aA96045" and simplify sharing into "Vitalik.eth"
The Web2 equivalent of an ENS domain would be a DNS domain ending ".com." With an ENS, you can share your username with ".eth" at the end with anyone looking to send a transaction to your wallet.
This is much easier than trying to remember the 42-character hexadecimal address tied to your wallet.
As of May 2022, more than one million ENS domains have been registered.
Below, we will walk you through how to buy an ENS domain for yourself in a few simple steps.
What is an Ethereum Name Service (ENS) Domain?
Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domains provide Ethereum users the ability to name their wallets in a personalized manner. Typing the 42-character address assigned to a wallet to be sent to another user is open to vulnerability on the transfer. An ENS domain allows users to shrink the character size down to an easier-to-read string of letters and/or numbers for sharing.
The ENS first started in May 2017, and now has grown in popularity as NFTs and cryptocurrencies have become more mainstream.
ENS domains are also tradeable as NFTs, with domains such as google.eth, apple.eth, and wallet.eth selling for more than 50 ETH.
It's our anniversary!
May 4 marks 5 years since ENS went live on Ethereum.
The last year in particular has seen ENS explode in popularity and usage.
We've gone from 242k names and 206 integrations last year to over 900k names and 500 integrations today.
— ens.eth (@ensdomains) May 4, 2022
Benefits of an ENS Domain
In Web2, businesses purchase Domain Name Systems (DNS), which are the ".com" domains they use for their company websites. ENS is the web3 version of this, and it is equally important to the branding of individuals and projects alike.
When sending a transaction to a wallet with an ENS domain, users can feel more confident that they are sending to the correct address than trying to confirm 42 separate random characters.
In some cases, the owner of an ENS can further utilize their domain through the use of subdomains, bringing a community together through a common domain.
Subdomains recently have been popularized by Purrnelope's Country Club, as the team has used subdomains as a way to expand their brand on Twitter and Discord. The subdomains can connect your NFT to that project on the blockchain forever.
How to Buy an ENS Domain
Buying an ENS domain and getting it registered to your existing Ethereum public address is as simple as just a few steps!
1. Set up a Crypto Wallet
First, you will need an Ethereum compatible cryptocurrency wallet in order to connect to the ENS website and purchase a domain. We recommend using a MetaMask wallet, the most popular web3 wallet. If you do not already have a Metamask wallet, check out our beginners guide to Metamask.
2. Send ETH to Your Wallet
Buying an ENS domain is relatively cheap compared to most NFT purchases, but you will want to make sure you have enough ETH in your wallet to cover gas fees for three transactions.
We also recommend buying ENS domains during calmer periods of transaction fees such as overnight in the middle of the week.
In the example video, the total cost of gas fees came out to about $100 USD.
3. Connect Your Wallet to ENS dApp
Once you have an Ethereum wallet with some ETH inside, you are ready to purchase your ENS.
First, head to the ENS dApp, the decentralized application and home for registering and renewing ENS domains.
Once there, eearch for your desired ENS "handle" in the search bar of the dApp (shown below). Only one wallet can be tied to a given ENS name at a given time, and this app will show which ENS domains have already been claimed, how long they are registered for, and which Ethereum address they belong to.
4. Choose an ENS Domain
Once you've searched for an ENS name that is suitable, you can start the buying and registration process.
On the new page, the searched domain will display. On the left side, there will be a color system showing availability and the right side will display when and the registration of a currently claimed domain will expire.
A green bar on the left side represents an ENS domain that is still available for purchase. A gray bar means the domain has already been claimed and is unavailable, and a blue bar means your connected wallet is already the owner of that domain.
For unavailable domains, you can click on the name to see the wallet that currently owns the domain until the displayed date. Renewing a domain before it expires prevents others from registering the name.
The minimum renewal duration is 28 days. There is no maximum duration for renewal, and there is a grace period of 90 days after the expiration of the domain. Renewing the domain within 90 days will keep your ownership live.
5. Register Your ENS Domain
Once you have found a domain name that is available and to your liking, click on the name with the green bar to load the purchasing page.
On the purchasing page, you can use the "+" and "-" buttons to select the number of years you would like to register the name for. The price to purchase will automatically be calculated for you in real-time.
More details on the specifics of the pricing is outlined further below.
The calculated price includes the estimated gas fee, based on current market conditions. In the example below, the estimated charge is 0.017 ETH or less, based on the expected market rate of a 52 gwei fee in gas. For more on gas fees, check out our guide on ETH gas fees.
Adding years to the registration of an existing name can be done at any time during the rental period.
Note, if you buy an ENS on the secondary market the expiration date does not reset! Check the expiration date on a registered domain before you purchase, as the date may approaching!
The registrar uses two Ethereum transactions (commit and reveal) to register a domain.
Once you click "Request to Register" and pay the associated gas fee, ENS will process the transaction and commit the username to your wallet address.
After this is confirmed, you will complete registration and pay an additional gas fee to become the owner of this new domain.
6. Set a Resolver
Once registration is completed you can click "Set As Primary ENS Name" which will take you to your wallet's home page.
Here you will set the "reverse record" to point your wallet to this new ENS domain.
If you have multiple ENS domains, the dropdown will show all of the reverse records you have to choose from. Select the ENS you wish to attach to your wallet.
After you've chosen an ENS for your primary ENS name, click "Save," and then pay a final gas fee on the transaction to confirm setting this ENS domain as the primary name to your wallet.
Now you will be able to send transactions to this wallet using the new nickname with ".eth" at the end.
How Much Does an ENS Domain Cost?
ENS purchases are billed on a per-year basis as outlined below:
- 3 character names are $640 per year
- 4 character names are $160 per year
- 5+ character names are $5 per year
Fees are paid in ETH based on the current ETH/USD exchange rate. Each new renewal will require a gas fee to complete the transaction.
Why 3 and 4 Digit ENS Names?
You may have seen a recent increase in excitement on Twitter for ENS domains with three and four digits. Part of what makes these ENS domains so desirable is the fact that their supply is limited.
The cost to renew three and four-digit ENS domains is also much higher than domains of five or more characters.
Additionally, there will only ever be 1,000 and 10,000 3-digit and 4-digit ENS domains, respectively.
Communities have grown around these ENS identifiers, similar to that of a 10,000 PFP project. Holders of a PFP have also shown that they desire the ENS with the same number as the serial ID to their PFP.
All 3-digit, 3-letter, 4-digit, and 5-digit ENS domains are officially sold out as of May 2022.
As of May 11, the floor prices of these domains are as follows:
- 3-digit: 9.00 ETH
- 4-digit: 0.85 ETH
- 5-digit: 0.01 ETH
Buying an ENS domain is not for everyone. People who interact with the Ethereum blockchain often may want to consider buying a domain to connect to their main wallet. Others who want to play the game of flipping domains for profit may want to search for names that could create future demand, such as beer.eth being eventually purchased by Budweiser.
Other blockchains such as Solana have created domain services for their own blockchains as well. There could be more opportunities for savvy participants to get into those blockchains before the demand increases on the respective blockchain.
The blockchain is public, so owning an ENS and attaching it to your main wallet lowers your level of privacy, as people can easily search for your transaction history. Users who interact on Ethereum less often likely do not have much reason to buy an ENS domain at this time, especially with the cost of gas fees being significant at times.
The recent spike in Ethereum usage and ENS domain registrations may make it difficult for users to find an available name in the future. You may want to lock in "trackstar.eth" before needing to add additional numbers or letters to the username, much like in the days of AIM or creating a new Gmail account.