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ICANN Domain Name Transfer Policy Becomes Effective

Marina del Rey (November 12, 2004) – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that its new inter-registrar domain name transfer policy has gone into effect.

The new policy was created through ICANN's consensus-based, bottom-up policy development process and approved unanimously by both ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) and its Board of Directors.

Similar to how telephone number portability works in many countries, enhanced domain name portability will provide for greater consumer and business choice, enabling domain name registrants to select the registrar that offers the best services and price. The new policy also simplifies and standardises the process to prevent abuses and provide clearer user information about the transfer process and options. The policy was originally announced on July 12, 2004.

Central to the new policy and its efforts to provide strong protections against unauthorised transfers and to facilitate choice in domain name registration, all registrars are now required to use a clear standardised form of authorisation that provides for the express consent of the domain name registrant prior to the initiation of any transfer.

Additional policy elements include the following (please refer to the full policy available at for details):

  • Requiring registrars to verify the identity of the registrant or administrative contact requesting the transfer by one of a number of approved methods to deter fraud;
  • Preserving the ability of registrants to "lock" their domains so they may not be transferred from the registrar, but requiring registrars to provide a readily accessible way for registrants to have their current registrar remove this lock at their request;
  • Enabling registrants to transfer their domain names without having to "double-confirm" the transfer once the transfer has been reliably authenticated per the new policy; and
  • Providing a robust dispute resolution process for resolving disputes between registrars, including registries implementing a "transfer undo" functionality to provide for efficiently reversing any transfer initiated in violation of the policy.

Through the new transfer policy implemented today, ICANN expects to expand the domain name user benefits of increased generic top level domain (gTLD) name market competition, including the separation of the registry and registrar functions, that have decreased domain name costs for consumers and businesses by up to 80 percent.

A recent report by the OECD concluded that 'ICANN's reform of the market structure for the registration of generic top level domain names has been very successful. The division between registry and registrar functions has created a competitive market that has lowered prices and encouraged innovation. The initial experience with competition at the registry level, in association with a successful process to introduce new gTLDs, has also shown positive results.'

Domain name users also have benefited from ICANN's implementation of a Redemption Grace Period Service that provides a 30-day period for domain name holders to reclaim their names if deleted unintentionally from a registry database. Through ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), established in 1999, more than 10,000 domain name disputes also have been efficiently and cost effectively resolved.

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."