You must have many questions.

We have answers.

Handshake Explainer

Unlike ICANN who charges an $185,000 "evaluation fee" for traditional top-level domain applications, Handshake top-level domains are distributed via on-chain Vickery auctions. The highest bid amount (not highest lockup) determines the winner of the auction, and the highest bidder only pays the 2nd highest bid. Importantly, the amount that's paid by the winner is burned, and not paid to anybody — not Namebase and not any "Handshake foundation".

First, to maintain backwards-compatibility, traditional top-level domains are blacklisted. For example, you can’t register "com" on Handshake because it would conflict with Versign-managed .coms.

Second, the top 100,000 alexa domains are reserved, so you can’t register "Google" on Handshake and redirect it to your site selling pet rocks (this was a big problem with previous attempts at decentralized systems). Site owners of reserved Handshake names can claim their names here.

You can start selling subdomains on Handshake through the Namebase Registry! See: "Sell subdomains" on namebase.io/use-cases.

Handshake domains work just like the centralized ICANN domain system, with a few key exceptions. In the traditional world of domains, extensions such as “com” “net” and “org” are referred to as Generic Top Level Domains or top-level domains. There are also new top-level domains like .pizza or .business, and Country Code top-level domains like .io (Indian Ocean) or .ly (Libya). ICANN decides, through an expensive and complicated auction and voting process, what top level domains will be approved, and then individual domain registrars who own those top-level domains get to sell access to the subdomains on top of them.

On Handshake, anyone can register a new top-level domain and sell access to subdomains without having to ask for anyone else's permission! For example, if you registered “lee” on Handshake, then say Bruce Lee could come and buy bruce.lee from you! However, because anyone can register a top-level domain on Handshake, another option is to simply USE top-level domains as-is. For example, Bruce Lee could just register “brucelee” and use it to host his personal website without any subdomains.

First, domains are one of the original “digital assets” and have been established to be extremely valuable. Domains are one of the only naturally scarce digital assets! Artificial scarcity can be made to work (see Cryptokitties) but is at the end of the day a social construct. The namespace is finite, and the desirable namespace is a small fraction of that already finite namespace, so domains have a true scarcity that drives value.

Second, domains are uniquely suited for decentralization because they are a frequent target of seizure — for example, the US Government seized the domain names of many online poker sites, a form of censorship far more insidious even than the Chinese great firewall, since it blocks everyone’s access. Handshake names are on-chain so cannot be seized.

Third, extremely high value domains, even ones which are not at high risk of government seizure, can be compromised very easily by social engineering attacks on registrars. This happened to several ICO websites causing the loss of tens of millions of crypto. A domain on Handshake can be stored as a private key, and private keys can be stored extraordinarily securely if one wishes, for example via cold storage of shamir-secret-split keys.

On a technical level, Handshake is a fork of bcoin, a Bitcoin fullnode implementation, which allows users to register domain names that will be maintained by a decentralized network of nodes. Importantly, Handshake is fully compatible with the existing domain name system, and can easily be integrated with mainstream browsers.

Handshake uses the Bitcoin software with some extra transaction types that allow users to bid on names on-chain. Importantly, Handshake forked the Bitcoin node software but did not fork the UTXO set — like Zcash, it's a complete start-over from a new genesis block.

You can claim the Handshake airdrop and get up to 4662 HNS using our airdrop tool. Note that in order to claim the airdrop you must have had at least 15 follows on GitHub in 2018.

Namebase did not make Handshake — we're just big fans of Handshake and want to enable Handshake adoption. Handshake is a decentralized project with dozens of contributors across different individuals and organizations. You can get a sense of some of the contributors by looking at the first reference implementation for Handshake's fullnode on GitHub. As a community member, you too can get involved and officially call yourself a Director of Handshake.

Anyone can be a Director of Handshake

Both cases refer to the same name, the ".name" vs "name/" convention is just a reference to how you can use your name. For instance, if you own "nakamoto" on Handshake, you can use "nakamoto" as a domain itself. In that case, you would point "nakamoto" to your website and visit it at http://nakamoto/ in your browser. You can also use "nakamoto" as a TLD and issue your own subdomains. In that case you can create "satoshi.nakamoto" and visit it at http://satoshi.nakamoto in your browser. A Handshake name can be used as both a domain name directly and as a TLD at the same time.

Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, INBlockchain, DHVC, Scalar Capital, Draper Associates, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, Polychain Capital, Pantera Capital, IDEO Colab, Elad Gil, Jack Herrick, Alok Vasudev, Pamir Gelenbe, Sizhao Yang, and a ton of other amazing investors.

Getting Started on Namebase

You can buy HNS directly through Namebase’s exchange where you can currently trade USD or BTC for HNS. If you're a developer, you may be able to claim a ~4600 HNS airdrop. You can also mine HNS coins.

For each subdomain sale or renewal, your payout is calculated via the following formula: (SALE_PRICE - $1) * 0.70. Once the dollar amount of the payout has been calculated, the equivalent amount in HNS will be automatically deposited into your account. The $1 taken out of the payout covers the registry operating costs. Here’s where the remainder of the payout commission goes:

• Registry and registrar commission costs

• Customer support

• Ongoing software development costs to improve the registry

• Ongoing software development costs to integrate with more registrars

Customers with USD balances are charged $1 for each ACH withdrawal. For withdrawing BTC, customers only pay the BTC network mining fee.

See our Revenue streams in the Learning Center.

The easiest way to access Handshake domains is by using the hns.to gateway. For example, you can access our dLink page living on namebase/ by visiting hns.to/namebase on any browser.

You can also directly resolve Handshake domains using Handshake-compatible resolvers such as nextdns.io — this is meant to be a quick solution to let people experience Handshake without any of the heavy-lifting.

See the Access Handshake names page in our Learning Center for more ways to resolve Handshake domains.

You can place a bid for any available Handshake top-level domain directly on Namebase! We take care of all the complicated details of interacting with the blockchain, so you can focus on getting your favorite names. Please be sure to get caught up on how Handshake auctions work before placing your first bid to avoid common newcomer mistakes.

Namebase automatically creates a custodial wallet for you when you sign up (you can get your HNS address by clicking "Generate address" on your Dashboard). You can use your Namebase wallet to register Handshake names, and buy and sell HNS.

You can withdraw USD by navigating to your USD wallet from your dashboard and clicking the Withdraw button.

USD wallet

You can change your password by logging out of your Namebase account, selecting "Log in", and then "Forgot your password?".

If you're outside of the US, you can use Namebase Pro to directly withdraw your HNS to any HNS wallet address.

If you're within the US, then you won't be able to withdraw your HNS to other HNS wallet addresses but you can sell your HNS for BTC or USD to then withdraw.

Note: you must be verified to transfer or sell your HNS.

Just like with traditional domain names, you can update the DNS settings for your Handshake domain names. The DNS settings cite where a Handshake domain name should go to. Currently, you can set the following record types: A record (IP address), CNAME, TXT, NS, DS, and TLSA. The DNS settings for a specific domain can be accessed in your domain manager.

Domain management screenshot

A Records

A records are the most basic type of DNS record and are used to point domains to IP addresses. An IP address is the machine-readable address that a human-readable domain name maps to. For instance, google.com has an IP address of You can type that IP address directly into the URL bar of your browser and you’ll go to Google’s website.

When you want to associate an IP address with your domain name, you do so by adding an A record (“A” stands for “Address”) to your domain. Using the example above, google.com has an A record with a value of


CNAME records are another common type of DNS record and are used to point a domain to another subdomain/domain name.


TXT records are used to store any text-based information you want associated with your name that can be obtained when necessary. We commonly see TXT records used to verify domain ownership, but you can use them for associating any arbitrary data with your domain.


NS records are used to point your domain to external nameservers that you manage elsewhere. These identify the authoritative servers that serve a domain’s DNS records. Most nameservers will come in sets of two or four and look something like “ns1.nameserver.com” and “ns2.nameserver.com.” Please note that using external nameservers is potentially riskier since it is off-chain.


DS records are used with DNSSEC to commit to a child zone’s zone signing keys.


TLSA records are used with DANE to commit to the keys a domain uses for TLS.

We'll let you know via email if others are bidding on the same name as you, as well as when the auction is finished (hopefully you won!) See the "Auction process" section below for more details on how the auction works.

The Auction Process

Lockup Amount = Bid Amount + Added Blind

Your lockup is the sum of your bid and your blind. It's called a "lockup" because you won't be able to use your locked up HNS until the auction ends. This is to prevent people from bidding more than they can spend and to prevent people from spamming bids on more names than they’re willing to actually purchase.

It's important to note that only bids determine the auctions' winners — the blinds are completely optional. Adding blinds can be helpful because they hide the value of your bid and causes your bids to appear higher to others (only you can see your bid amount while the lockup amount is what's shown to other bidders). You also receive your blind back right at the beginning of the reveal period, while your bid is you only returned once the reveal period has ended.

Your lockup cannot be updated after you submit it. You can submit additional lockups but your previous ones will still be locked up (e.g. if you submit two lockups of 1,000 HNS and 10,000 HNS, 11,000 HNS will be locked up for the duration of the auction).

It helps to look at an example here. If the "last block to send bids" is 99, then confirmed bids placed on block 99 would show up as block 100 on block explorers. This can give the illusion that a bid was placed after the bidding period has already ended.

On a relevant note, because Handshake is a distributed system, not all information is distributed in a consistent way at all times. As a consequence, sometimes bids placed on on the very final block of the bidding period aren't shown until the reveal period has already begun. Continuing with the previous example, a bid placed on block 99 may not appear until block 100, and it will seem as if the bid was placed after the bidding period has already ended.

To avoid being affected by last-minute bids, please have a look at the Notes on sniping section of the Handshake auction page in our Learning Center.

If you lose, your funds are returned in full (minus the Handshake Mining Fee). If you win, congrats! You're now one of the first owners of decentralized top-level domains on the internet. Companies regularly pay more than $200k to apply to register top-level domains with the ICANN, so it's pretty cool that you own your own top-level domain.

You can now point your top-level domain to a personal webpage, set up subdomains for your top-level domain, or sell your top-level domain to someone else for a profit! See namebase.io/use-cases for some ways you can get started using your name.

You can place a bid with Handshake coins (HNS) on any Handshake name whose auction hasn't closed yet.

Bids can take on any value and you can optionally add a blind to your bid to hide the true value of your bid from others.

Your bid + blind is called your lockup, which is the only value other bidders (and the rest of the network) can see. Your HNS lockup will be nontransferable for the duration of the auction, though your blind will be returned to you once your bid has been revealed.

After the first bid is placed, bidding is open to everyone for 720 blocks (~5 days).

Everyone will have 1440 blocks (~10 days) to reveal their bid price — Namebase does this automatically for you so if you’re a Namebase user you won’t need to worry about this step :)

The highest bid (not highest lockup) will win the name. The winning bid is chosen after the 10 day reveal period and the winner pays the second highest bid amount while the other bidders get their coins back.

It's important to note. The winner’s payment is burned by the network, so the winner doesn’t pay bids to anyone per se.

The winner gets to use their Handshake top-level domain however they wish (Namebase helps you manage its settings without being a programmer) and the rest of the bidders can continue trying their luck on other top-level domains!

A Vickrey auction is a type of sealed-bid auction. Bidders submit their bids without knowing the bid of the other people in the auction. The highest bidder wins but the price paid is the second-highest bid. For example, if you bid 10 HNS for crypto/ and someone else bids 5 HNS, you’d win the auction and only pay 5 HNS for crypto/. This means that you don’t spend more HNS than you need to when you win an auction.

Still have questions? Try our support chat or submit your question here.