The 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement – What You Need to Know

13 February 2014
By Cyrus Namazi

Five years in the “real world” is a long time. When talking about the Internet, five years is exponentially longer.

In 2009, Facebook reached 350 million users, Apple introduced the iPhone 3Gs, Sina Weibo (Weibo.com, today) was launched, Twitter entered the mainstream and Spotify opened free registration in the United Kingdom.

2009 was also the last time ICANN’s Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) had been amended since 2001.

So much has happened in the past five years – from the explosion of cybercrime to the rise of the “Internet of Things,” to the ubiquitous adoption of smartphones around the globe, just to name a few. The Internet of 2014 is not the Internet of 2009. As times change, so must we.

Last summer, ICANN announced the 2013 RAA, which was created to foster transparency and accountability in the domain name industry. The RAA is the contract registrars sign with ICANN that outlines the rules they agree to abide by while doing business. The new RAA represents significant improvements over the 2009 agreement and was developed based on input and recommendations from the multiple stakeholders comprising the Internet community. New provisions seek to protect registrants while simultaneously improving the reputation of the domain name industry as a whole. What follows is a list of some of the key requirements present in the new RAA, along with an explanation of their importance and expected outcomes.

Registrants’ Benefits and Responsibilities

This section of the 2013 RAA clearly defines the type of information registrants should expect to receive from registrars. It also advises registrants that they need to provide accurate contact information and outlines the requirements for maintaining domain name registrations.

  • Why it Matters

    These new rules are meant to ensure all registrants receive vital information about domain registration, including the terms and conditions, fees and registrar customer service processes. Additionally, this measure has the potential to increase the transparency of the Internet by requiring that registrant contact information be real and current. IMPORTANT: Inaccurate contact data may result in the suspension or termination of a domain registration.

  • Tips for Registrars

    ICANN urges registrars to proactively educate registrants on the importance of keeping their contact information up to date, as well as the potential consequences for not doing so.

  • Tips for Registrants

    The most important takeaway is that registrants will now be required to verify their contact information when requested to do so by their registrar. The email address or phone number on file with the registrar will be used in verification. If you fail to verify your information within 15 days of a request, your registrar can suspend or terminate your domain. ICANN recommends that you research your registrar’s policies regarding verification notification, and designate your registrar’s email address as a “safe sender.”

Registrar Duty to Investigate Abuse

Registrars must establish a dedicated email address to receive reports of illegal activity. All reports of abuse must be investigated by the registrar and responded to promptly, and information regarding receipt, handling and tracking of abuse reports must be published on a registrar’s website.  Additional registrar requirements apply to abuse complaints made by law enforcement officers.

  • Why it Matters

    These requirements were created to expedite the review and handling of abuse cases, which helps support a safer, more secure Internet.

  • Tips for Registrars

    Registrars may direct general questions about the new RAA’s abuse report handling requirements to RAAquestions@icann.org.

  • Tips for Registrants

    ICANN reminds registrants to stay compliant with all applicable laws and abide by the terms of their registration agreements.

Registrar Responsibility for Resellers

The terms of the 2013 RAA apply to all registrations, whether sold directly by a registrar or through one of its resellers. The registrar is tasked with enforcing compliance with the terms of their agreements with resellers.

  • Why it Matters

    New rules protect registrants by requiring resellers to incorporate 2013 RAA language into their registration agreements, and by holding the accredited registrar accountable for managing its resellers.

  • Tips for Registrars

    Educate your resellers on these new provisions and enter into contracts with resellers that will ensure you remain in compliance with the RAA.

  • Tips for Registrants

    Be sure to understand who you are doing business with.  If you use a reseller, learn which registrar is ultimately responsible for your registration in case you have issues in the future.


Cyrus Namazi