What is ARIN? Inside the organisation that runs the internet for North America

  • ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers) is a non-profit organization responsible for the management and distribution of IP addresses and Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs) in the North American region.  
  • ARIN plays a crucial role in the allocation and administration of these Internet numbering resources.

The worlds Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) are responsible for providing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecom companies with IP addresses and other internet ‘numbers’ so their customers can connect to the internet.

There are five RIRs: ARIN, RIPE, APNIC, LACNIC and AFRINIC. ARIN is responsible for North America, RIPE is responsible for the European region, LACNIC is responsible for Latin America America region and AFRINIC is responsible for the Africa region. The allocation of IP addresses and AS numbers for countries in the Asia Pacific region is managed by APNIC.

Registries can also exist under the RIR, such as National registries (NIR) and General registries (LIR). These registries receive Internet addresses and numbers from APNIC and can assign them to their subordinates.

Also read: What is APNIC? Inside the backbone of Asia’s internet

Establishment and jurisdiction

ARIN was officially formed after the restructuring of the previous organization, InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center). InterNIC was a collaborative effort between the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and Network Solutions, Inc. As the Internet grew and the demand for IP addresses increased, the decision was made to transition from a centralized InterNIC to a decentralized model with multiple Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) serving different geographic regions.

ARIN’s operational region includes The United States, Canada, A portion of the Caribbean, including countries such as the Bahamas and many North Atlantic islands.

ARIN’s jurisdiction is primarily focused on the allocation and assignment of IP addresses and ASNs within this designated service region. While ARIN has a specific regional responsibility, it collaborates with other RIRs globally to ensure coordination and consistency in the management of IP address space on a global scale.


The organization operates under the principles of an open, transparent, and community-driven model. Policies related to the allocation and management of Internet number resources are developed through community consensus, and anyone within the ARIN community can participate in the policy development process.

It’s important to note that the establishment and jurisdiction of ARIN are part of a larger framework of RIRs worldwide, each serving its respective geographic region with the goal of responsible and fair distribution of IP addresses to support the growth and stability of the Internet.

Community Participation

ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers) encourages and values community participation in its operations and decision-making processes.  The organization follows an open and transparent model, allowing members of the Internet community to actively contribute and shape policies related to the allocation and management of Internet number resources (IP addresses and Autonomous System Numbers).  

Here are some key aspects of community participation at ARIN:

Public Policy Meetings

ARIN holds regular Public Policy Meetings, where community members, including representatives from ISPs, network operators, and other stakeholders, come together to discuss and propose changes to policies. These meetings provide a platform for the community to share ideas, express concerns, and work collaboratively to develop and refine policies that govern the distribution and usage of IP addresses and ASNs.

Policy Development Process (PDP)

ARIN’s PDP is a community-driven process that enables anyone to propose changes to ARIN policies. Proposals are typically discussed and refined through mailing lists and at Public Policy Meetings. The PDP ensures that the community has a voice in shaping the rules and guidelines for the allocation and management of Internet number resources.


Open Mailing Lists

ARIN maintains open mailing lists where discussions related to policies, technical issues, and general community matters take place. These mailing lists serve as a forum for members to express their opinions and engage in constructive dialogue.

ARIN Advisory Council

The Advisory Council (AC) is a group of volunteers elected by the ARIN community. The AC’s primary responsibility is to facilitate the PDP, reviewing and advancing policy proposals. The AC plays a crucial role in representing the interests of the community and ensuring that policies are developed in an open and fair manner.

ARIN Members

ARIN is a membership-based organization, and its members play a significant role in influencing the organization’s direction. Members have the opportunity to vote in elections for the ARIN Board of Trustees and the Advisory Council, providing them with a direct role in the governance of ARIN.

Community Outreach and Education

ARIN engages in community outreach and educational initiatives to ensure that stakeholders are well-informed about Internet number resource policies and best practices. Training sessions, webinars, and informational resources are provided to help the community better understand the technical and policy aspects of ARIN’s work.

Overall, ARIN is committed to an inclusive and participatory approach, recognizing that the strength of the organization lies in the collective wisdom and expertise of its diverse community. Community input is essential in shaping policies that are fair, effective, and responsive to the evolving needs of the Internet community in the ARIN region.


Fei Wang

Fei Wang, a reporter at BTW media dedicated in Internet Governance and IT infrastructure. She is studying bilingual broadcasting and hosting at Communication University of Zhejiang. Send tips to f.wang@btw.media

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