Continued Operations Instrument (COI)
The purpose of the Continuing Operations Instrument (COI) is to ensure the availability of funds to provide continuity of service to registrants of new gTLDs should an issue with a registry arise. Per Specification 8 of the base Registry Agreement, Registry Operators (ROs) shall have a COI that provides for sufficient financial resources to cover the five critical registry functions in Section 6 of Specification 10, for a determined time period as defined in Section 1 of Specification 8. The Registry Agreement (RA) requires that sufficient COI coverage is maintained for a term of six years from contract execution.
Please see below for additional details:
As ROs fulfill their 6-year COI obligation, TLDs will no longer be required to maintain a COI. The COI Obligation End Release Service facilitates the release of COI(s) that are no longer required per Specification 8 of the RA.
August 2020 Update. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICANN began to facilitate digital releases (i.e. release without returning the physical letters of credit) with banks. Due to adjustments in bank policies and requirements, ICANN has been prevented in some cases from facilitating digital releases. As a result of these challenges, ROs may now need to take action to release their COI.
ICANN will continue to notify ROs of their COI obligation end date. In addition, ICANN org will notify the RO if they must take action to facilitate the release of the COI. ROs may consider the following options.
- The RO may request the issuing bank to amend the COI to align the COI Final Expiry with the obligation release date. If the RO selects this option, ICANN requests the RO to open a case in the Naming Services portal for alignment and approval on the obligation end date. Please keep in mind, banks may charge a fee to process an amendment.
- ROs may ask their bank to issue a non-renewal notification once the COI is no longer required or when an auto-renewal date extends further than the COI is obligated to be maintained with ICANN. This will result in the COI expiring upon the next upcoming anniversary date.
- If the COI is a cash escrow agreement or Letter of Credit advised by Bank of America, ICANN will continue to process a release without required action by the RO.
- An RO that utilizes a COI allocation schedule will continue to be notified of gTLD coverage that may be removed from their COI document. While no action is required, ROs may choose to work with their Issuing Bank to submit an amendment for the removal of gTLD(s) no longer requiring coverage.
- ROs may also opt not to take any action and allow the COI to expire upon the date provided in the COI (unless a Final Expiry is not present).
The COI Amendment Service provides a method for ROs to request approval to change the value of their COI funds to align with their projection of domains under management (DUMs) for a gTLD or to amend a COI's Final Expiry date. In order to be eligible for the COI Amendment Service, the registry must be in good standing and its TLD must have been in General Availability for a minimum of six months.
There are (3) three phases in the process:
- Submit COI Amendment request – listed under the title "Continued Operations Instrument (COI) Amendment" in the Naming Services portal (NSp). ROs will select the service case based on their COI form (i.e. letter of credit or escrow agreement) and provide the following:
- The TLD(s)
- Current DUMs and COI amount
- Projected DUMs (three year horizon)
- Requested COI amount
- ICANN Review – ICANN org reviews the proposed request to determine whether additional information or clarification is required to make an informed determination. At the end of ICANN Review, ICANN org will notify the RO of next steps, which may include working with the Issuing Bank or drafting a proposed escrow agreement amendment.
- Final Processing – ICANN org will initiate the authorization process. ROs may be asked to coordinate with their issuing bank to authorize an amendment for ICANN org to execute.
ICANN org will ensure sufficiency of COIs as set forth in the RA. If found to be insufficiently funded at any time, the RO will be referred to the COI Amendment Service and asked to amend their COI within 60 days.