ICANN Implementing Changes To Domain Transfer Policies on 1 December

ICANN logoTransferring domain names between registrars should be a simple but secure process, and it’s a process that ICANN, the domain name system overseer, is updating. The changes are aimed at making it clearer and more secure for domain owners, or registrants, of all generic Top Level Domains. A written confirmation will also be required before any transfer can take place.

The changes to the Transfer and the Transfer Dispute Resolution (TDRP) policies commence on 1 December 2016. They only apply to the transfer of domain names such as .com, .net or .xyz, known as generic Top Level Domains or gTLDs, to or from ICANN-accredited registrars. They don’t apply to country code Top Level Domains, or ccTLDs, such as .uk or .de.

It is important that domain owners are aware of the changes, so we thought we’d explain what the changes mean.

The changes will see a requirement for much greater clarification around confirming both the prior and the new domain owner are aware of the changes to ownership to thwart unauthorised transfers such as through domain name hijacking and other fraudulent activities. Both former and current domain owners will be notified simultaneously of changes. To activate a domain transfer, both the new and old registrars need to complete a Form of Authorization (FOA) available from the ICANN website.

The most important changes to the Transfer Policy include:

  • Registrars must deny a transfer request if the registrar has imposed a 60-day domain transfer lock following a Change of Registrant, and the registrant did not opt out of the lock.
  • The definition of a Material Change as it relates to a Change of Registrant has been clarified.
  • The required information in the notification to the old and new registrant has been modified.
  • Registrars must deny a transfer in the event of a Uniform Rapid Suspension System dispute that the registrar has been informed of.

The changes to the Transfer Dispute Resolution Policy (TDRP) include:

  • New definitions have been added.
  • Registrars must file TDRP complaints with ICANN-approved dispute resolution providers and can no longer file TDRP complaints with registries.
  • Complaints about the TDRP can be made up to 12 months after the transfer. Currently complaints must be made within six months.
  • Updated reasons for denying a domain transfer in the Transfer Policy have been added to the TDRP.
  • Transfers are invalid if the Dispute Resolution Panel decides that the gaining registrar acquired the domain name(s) through an invalid transfer.
  • In the event of an invalid transfer occurring, the domain shall be transferred back to the registrar prior to the invalid transfer.

Any changes to registrant information will also require more administration and authorisation, including to the name of the registrant. So it’s advisable that domain owners should check their registration information for each domain they own prior to 1 December and update it if necessary.

The changes are the result of two consultations ICANN conducted over a number of years, starting back in 2012.

ICANN has published a redline version of the Transfer Policy showing changes to the previous policy that can be downloaded from:
https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/transfer-policy-redline-25may16-en.pdf

There is also a redline version of the TDRP available at:
https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/tdrp-redline-25may16-en.pdf