What do ICANN’s new domain transfer rules mean for you?

To ensure a fair and open Internet, the policies surrounding registration and transfer of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are overseen by a non-profit organisation called ICANN.

ICANN is changing the rules for domain transfers on December 1, 2016. The old transfer policy was only invoked when transferring a domain between two different registrars, for example, transferring a domain registration into File Sanctuary from another provider. The new transfer policy also covers transfers from one registrant (domain owner) to another, and sets out rules for the processes around this. The idea behind the change is to improve security and reduce the risk of domain theft.

Every time a domain registrant’s name, organisation or email address is changed a series of confirmation and approval emails will now be sent to ensure that both the new and old domain owner approve the change. It’s important to note that ANY change will trigger this process, even correcting spelling mistakes.

What are the main changes that ICANN are making to the rules?

  • 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 need to receive notifications about the change, with the option of reversing the change
  • 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

There is some discontent amongst domain registrars at present due to the confusion this will create for domain registrants. It is believed that this process does not add any major positives to the domain transfer process and only increases the difficulty of not only domain transfers, but also simple domain edits (correcting spelling mistakes, for example). That said however, we’re required to comply with ICANN’s new rules, so we’re trying to do so in a way that has the least-possible impact for you, our customers.

These new policies require some changes to our Terms of Service (notably the section on Transfer of Ownership in the Domain Registration Agreement), which has now been updated to reflect the new nature of transfers.

We’ve already had quite a lot of questions about this, so we’ve created a page of frequently asked questions about gTLD domain transfers, which is now available in our knowledgebase.

If you have any questions not covered there please create a support ticket and we’ll get you some answers.