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ICANN's Domain Transfer Policy

Everything you need to know about ICANN's new Domain Transfer Policy

Planning to transfer your domain name registration to InfoQuest?

Here's details on ICANN Domain Transfer Policy

Latest update: December 1, 2016

On December 1, 2016, ICANN started enforcing a new transfer policy that modifies the process of changing domain ownership from one registrant to another. The implementation of the policy is imposed on all registrars. 

What is the Policy?

The policy we are discussing here is the ICANN Transfer Policy, formerly known as “Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy” or IRTP. Up until now, this policy only covered domain transfers between registrars (it’s the policy that mandates the Forms of Authorization to be completed by a registrant prior to a transfer). The new policy also covers the process of changing ownership of the domain from one entity to another (registrant to registrant). Every time a change of registrant takes place, the policy is called upon and a series of confirmation and approval emails are triggered. What’s important to note is that simple updates to a registrant’s first name, last name, organization and email address on a particular domain also triggers the same slew of notification and confirmation emails.

When is it going into effect?

The new transfer policy is effective on December 1, 2016.

How will it impact your business?

Once the policy is in effect, the impact on resellers and their end users will be visible. It can be summarized as follows:

  • It will no longer be possible to change the registrant of a domain name with a simple domain modification request.
  • Any changes to first name, last name, organization or email address fields for the owner of any gTLD domain name will now start a trade process.
  • The process involves obtaining explicit confirmation from current and new registrants before a change can be completed.
  • After a change of registrant has been completed, previous and new registrant will receive a confirmation notice informing them that the change has completed
  • After a change of registrant has been completed, the domain is by default locked for transfers to a new registrar for the following 60 days

How does the new process work?

The process starts with the reseller submitting a request to modify the owner of a given domain name.

OpenSRS will then check if the New Registrant has previously accepted Tucows to act as a Designated Agent (DA). If so, OpenSRS would auto-approve the change for the New Registrant. Otherwise OpenSRS will send an email to the New Registrant, asking them

  • to approve or decline the Change of Registrant,
  • to confirm that their information is correct (as per Registrant Verification), and
  • accept Tucows to act as a Designated Agent for all future changes of registrant (optional)

Once the change has been approved by the New Registrant, OpenSRS will check if the Prior Registrant has accepted Tucows to act as a DA. If that is the case, OpenSRS would auto-approve the change for the Prior Registrant. Otherwise, OpenSRS will send an email to the Prior Registrant, asking them

  • to approve or decline the Change of Registrant, and
  • opt out of the 60-day registrar transfer lock after a Change of Registrant (optional).

After both approvals have been recorded, OpenSRS will complete the Change of Registrant and send a final confirmation to both Prior and New Registrant which notifies them about the completed process. In this scenario, the New Registrant will not receive a subsequent email to complete the Registrant Verification process, as this has already been completed with the initial confirmation.Even if the email of Prior and New Registrant is the same, the policy requires OpenSRS to send two separate emails. There is no further response required from registrants at this point of the process.

In case the New or Prior Registrant decline a change, or the request times out after 7 days, the entire process is aborted, and the present owner details will stay in place.

To help you better understand how this works, we have simplified the new process into five likely scenarios that may apply to all resellers. Please note: our systems will accommodate all scenarios. 

What is a Designated Agent in the context of this policy?

The Transfer Policy allows Registrants to delegate giving their consent to a Change of Registrant to a third-party on their behalf. The policy defines such third-party as a Designated Agent (DA):

1.2 “Designated Agent” means an individual or entity that the Prior Registrant or New Registrant explicitly authorizes to approve a Change of Registrant on its behalf.

In practical terms, this means that a Registrant can give authority to Tucows (the legal entity that operates the OpenSRS registrar) to confirm a Change of Registrant. When Tucows is enabled to act as a Designated Agent, the Registrant will not need to receive or confirm an email in order for a change to proceed. Instead, Tucows will always auto-approve any Change of Registrant.

In order to support this option, Tucows has made a change to its Registration Agreement, which is the legal document that each and every Registrant has to accept in order to manage a domain name through OpenSRS. In this agreement, we have added the following language:

21. TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP. […] Registrant explicitly authorizes Tucows to act as their Designated Agent, as stipulated by the ICANN Transfer Policy, to approve a Change of Registrant on their behalf.

Domain Registration Agreement

View the domain registration agreement here.

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