.al is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Albania. The .al ccTLD has been first introduced in the year 1992.
Initially, the .al nameservers have been hosted at the "Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell’Informazione “A. Faedo”" Pisa, Italy. The central authority responsibility was delegated to INIMA, an Albanian Institute of Applied Mathematics (INIMA is no longer operative).
In 1998, AKEP or the Albanian Electronic and Postal Communication Authority was assigned the task to regulate and serve as central registry for .al domain extensions. A few years later, the primary nameservers for .al domains were transferred at AKEP.
Initially, Albania followed the british model of ccTLDs, blocking second level domains under .al and allowing only third level domains under .com.al, .net.al, .org.al, .edu.al, .mil.al and .gov.al. A few exeptions were made. Some domain names were "grandfathered"; they were uniti.al, tirana.al, soros.al, upt.al and inima.al.
At the moment, the central registry does not run a whois server for .al domains. For more information see the article: .AL Whois Server - Whois Search for .al Domains
AKEP operated through a manual registration process through form requests. In 2012, a new system based on Registry-Registrar was installed and the registration was completely automated. Historically, the price for .al domains has been 75$ for 2 year registrations. In 2010, the domain policy changed and today, most domains can be registered for as low as 12.99€ (see .al domain pricing).
The registration is fully automated. Transfers are handled through an EPP code (AUTH_CODE). Activation is done after a one step approval.
Until the year 2013, the registration of .al domains was restricted to Albanian citizens or companies operating in the territory of Albania. Foreign companies could still register albanian domains through trustee operators or local presence services. As of May 1st, 2013 a full liberalization of .al domains has passed. Registration under third level domains, such as .com.al, .net.al, .edu.al still require a local presence. Registrations under .mil.al and .gov.al are handled directly at AKEP.
.al extensions do not offer IDN support. Domains can be ASCII and numerical characters from 2-63 letters. Albanian domains can be registered for 1-10 years. Same rule applies to renewals. More information can be found at this article which explaines how to Register a .AL Domain
The .al zone has no more than 14 000 domains as a beginning of 2015. The table below presents the total number of domains registered in each year since 2009.