What’s New in ICANN’s New Domain Transfer Policy?

The amendments to ICANN’s (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) inter-registrar transfer policy have been literally years in the making. At last, they take effect on 1 December 2016. The policy affects registrars, resellers and domain name owners (registrants) of generic top-level domains (gTLDs). The biggest change is in the process of updating registrant information the main purpose of which is to add extra security to domain name ownership and also, to keep registrants better informed about owner changes.

How does the New Transfer Policy Work?

The new policy affects updates of owner’s information in the domain’s Whois Record. When the registrant’s first or last name, organization name, email address or administrative contact email (in the absence of a registrant email) is modified, both the old and new registrant or their designated agents (which can be their domain registrars or resellers) must provide confirmation.
They confirm by ticking a checkbox at the point of registrant change or via a confirmation email after the change has been made.
The other big change in the new policy concerns transfer locks. After the modification of the registrant information is confirmed, the domain is locked for transfer for a period of 60 days unless:

– the old registrant requests an opt-out at the time of registrant information change
– the new registrant requests an opt-out at the time of confirmation. This means that an email will be sent to the old registrant who must accept the opt out and provide a securely generated code.

What should Domain Owners Know about the New Policy Amendments?

Let’s go into detail. If you’re a domain owner of gTLDs, from 1 December, you’ll have to go through a new confirmation process when making material changes to registrant information.
Material changes include even small changes in the first and last name of the registrant, organization name, email address and administrative contact email address if there’s no registrant email. This means that the policy will be initiated even when ownership doesn’t actually change hands.

It will be useful to know:

– When you’re the old registrant and you submit a material change, you’ll get an additional confirmation notice at the time of submission. Then you must confirm the change as the old registrant and also get the prior approval of the new registrant. Without it, the request for change will fail. This effectively makes you the designated agent of the new registrant.
– If you’re the new registrant, you’ll get an additional confirmation notice at the time of submission. Then you must confirm the change as the new registrant.
– If you’re both the old and the new registrant, you can confirm for both at the same time.
– Unless you opt out of the 60-day transfer lock as the old registrant, after the change of registrant information, the lock will come into effect.
– If the new registrant does not confirm the change of registrant details, the old details remain. If the old registrant does not confirm the change within 14 days, the request is cancelled and a new one must be submitted.
– You cannot have two requests for changes processed at the same time. If you submit a second before the first is confirmed, the first one will be cancelled.
– Both the old and the new registrants receive notification emails once the change of registrant is completed.
– Changes of registrant may be denied by the registrar if the domain registration agreement has expired, domain name is subject to a domain dispute proceeding including ICANN’s dispute resolution policies, court order, , etc.
– If you receive a change of registrant information confirmation email that you have not requested and do not expect, please contact your registrar’s support team to inquire.
– You’ll probably be notified of amendments to the terms of service agreement that you have with your domain registrar to comply with the new transfer policy. If not, check their website or contact customer service.

So is it for the Better or for the Worse for Domain Owners?

Time will tell, but if it really improves security for domain transfers, then it will be worth the extra load of emails.

This post is related to domain transfers and security. To get more background, go to <What is Domain Hijacking?> and <How to Choose the Right Domain Name Registrar for you?>.

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