Complaints and Disputes
Please refer to the ICANN.org Complaint Submission & FAQ at: http://www.icann.org/en/resources/compliance/complaints to submit a complaint or learn more.
- Before You Register a Domain Name
- How do I register a domain name?
- My domain name? Oh, you mean my website name! Why do you call it a domain name?
- I pay for the domain name registration fees, what do you mean it isn't mine?
- I registered a domain name and someone is putting advertisements on it. What should I do?
- What are the rules for registration of .biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, .org, and .pro names?
- What are the rules for registration of .aero, .coop, and .museum names?
- Can I register a domain name that includes non-ASCii characters (such as Arabic or Chinese)?
- When I register a domain name, will my name and contact information become publicly available?
- How long does a registration last? Can it be renewed?
- I have seen advertisements for domain-name registration by companies not in the accredited registrar directory. Are these legitimate?
- I just registered a domain name. How do I turn this into a working website?
- Some registrants do not know that the domain name registrar can be different from the entity providing web-hosting/email services.
- Am I required to sign up for hosting services from the same company where I registered the domain name?
- What is an "A" record and how do I change it?
- What is an 'MX' record and how do I change it?
- What happens if a registrar goes out of business?
- What does registrar suspension mean?
- Why would an ICANN-accredited registrar be suspended?
- How long will a registrar suspension last?
- How will the public be made aware of a registrar suspension?
- If I have domain names with a registrar that has been suspended by ICANN, will I lose my domain names?
- My domain name with the suspended registrar is about to expire. How can I make sure it is not lost during the suspension?
- What happens if a domain name is registered through a reseller of the suspended registrar?
- What will happen to the suspended registrar after the suspension period?
- What happens if the suspended registrar's accreditation is eventually terminated by ICANN and how will registrants be affected?
- What support does ICANN need from registries to suspend a registrar?
- How will registries be informed of registrar suspensions?
- How should registries respond to inquiries about a suspended registrar?
- Should registries process auto-renewals for suspended registrars?
- Will there be a standard execution time?
- If a registrar cures all breaches referenced in ICANN's notice of suspension, will the suspension period be shortened?
- Under what circumstances will ICANN consider extending the suspension period?
- How will registries know if a registrar suspension will be extended or lifted?
- How should registries report the status of a "suspended" registrar in their monthly reports to ICANN and what additional tracking information should be reflected in the monthly reports once a registrar comes off of suspension?
- Will ICANN indemnify a registry for actions taken in support of a registrar suspension?
- Will suspended registrars be prohibited from complying with court orders pertaining to inbound transfers?
- What is ICANN's Contractual Compliance Approach and Process?
- What is the difference between the Informal resolution and Formal resolution process?
- What is the turn-around time during the contractual compliance Informal Resolution process?
- How does ICANN manage the contractual compliance complaints?
- What are ICANN's role and responsibilities regarding alleged illegal activities on websites?
Registering a Domain Name
Before You Register a Domain Name
You will find multiple companies offering various types of domain name registration services. Before completing any transaction relating to domain name registration, ICANN offers these general guidelines:
- Know who you are dealing with. ICANN has accredited a number of companies for provision of domain-name registration services. We recommend dealing directly with an ICANN-accredited registrar. The full list of accredited registrars is available here. If you choose to register a domain name with a company that is not an accredited registrar, make sure to read the registration agreement carefully to identify any other parties you may also be contracting with,
- Research the registrar's customer service. Does the registrar offer the types of services you require? What type of support do they offer for their services? Do they have readily accessible contact information? Can they answer the questions you have? When you do an online search, do you come up with a list of complaints against them? Checking this information ahead of time can save you a lot of problems later.
- Read and understand the terms and conditions. When registering a domain name online, you will be asked to accept the terms and conditions of a registration agreement. By completing the domain registration, you are agreeing to these terms. The agreement contains important information about the rights you have in the domain name, the use of your personal data, the fees a registrar may charge you, and under what conditions you may switch service to new providers. While it may be tempting to speed through this step and click "I AGREE," taking the time to read this first can save you from unpleasant surprises later.
How do I register a domain name?
Domain names can be registered through many different companies (known as "registrars") that compete with one another. A listing of these companies appears in the Registrar Directory on this site.
The registrar you choose will ask you to provide various contact and technical information that makes up the registration. The registrar will then keep records of the contact information and submit the technical information to a central directory known as the "registry." This registry provides other computers on the Internet the information necessary to send you e-mail or to find your web site. You will also be required to enter a registration contract with the registrar, which sets forth the terms under which your registration is accepted and will be maintained.
There are now also many different top-level domains (TLDs) in which domain names can be registered. For more information, contact your registrar or visit the list of TLDs at http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db.
My domain name? Oh, you mean my website name! Why do you call it a domain name?
Your domain name registration is not the same thing as a website or a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). While some people assume that the registration of a domain name automatically means you have a website, what they do not understand is that a domain name is like a street address for getting postal mail: there must still be a building or post office box at the street address for delivering letters or packages. You must purchase, find, or implement services like web-hosting or email to make your Internet presence known and make your domain name functional and accessible to others.
I pay for the domain name registration fees, what do you mean it isn't mine?
The registrant, also known as the "Registered Name Holder" is the person or entity that holds the rights to a domain name. Check with your registrar to see who the Registrant of record is for your domain name. If you have outsourced a third-party, such as a developer, to help manage your domain name, they may have registered the domain name using their own contact details (even if you have paid them to register and manage the domain name). Therefore, they may be listed as the official Registrant of record for the domain name. You may need to provide proof of your payment to the third-party/developer to prove to your registrar that you are the rightful holder and should be the registrant of the domain name.
Remember, paying to register a domain name is not the same as "buying" it outright or permanently. You do now "own" a domain name. What you are doing is more like leasing the domain name from the registry operator that the domain name is associated with. Registration periods can vary depending on the registry operator. You cannot buy a domain name forever. However, you can continually renew its registration (before the registration period expires) to maintain control over it. While the term "buying a domain name" is also commonly used in relation to purchasing an existing domain name registered to someone else, the purchaser is not buying the domain name, but just acquiring the rights to register it to themselves and continue to manage and re-register it in the future.
I registered a domain name and someone is putting advertisements on it. What should I do?
If you register a domain name but do not acquire or implement web-hosting and/or email services as well, in some instances you could experience "parking" on your domain name. Domain name parking occurs where the registrar sets the domain name's nameservers and uses the site for advertisements. Contact your registrar if you see advertisements on your domain name to see if and how you can have them removed. You can also acquire web-hosting/email services to gain fuller control over the content associated with your domain name.
What are the rules for registration of .biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, .org, and .pro names?
Please contact your registrar for more information or visit the Registry websites listed below.
- The .biz domain, operated by NeuStar, Inc., is restricted to businesses.
- The .com domain, operated by VeriSign, Inc., is a generic top-level domain originally intended for commercial businesses around the world.
- The .info domain, operated by Afilias Limited, is an unrestricted domain for websites containing information about you, your organization, your products or any other information you'd like to make available to a global audience.
- The .name domain, operated by VeriSign, Inc., is reserved for individuals.
- The .net domain, operated by VeriSign, Inc., is a generic top-level domain used by many types of organizations and individuals globally; it was historically intended for and is still commonly used by Internet service providers.
- The .org domain, operated by Public Interest Registry, is unrestricted, but was intended to serve the noncommercial community.
- The .pro domain, operated by Afilias plc, is restricted to certified professionals and related entities.
What are the rules for registration of .aero, .coop, and .museum names?
The .aero, .coop, and .museum TLDs are sponsored TLDs and are designed for use within a specified community. Registration restrictions for these TLDs have been developed by the sponsor with input from the community. For more information, contact your registrar or visit the sponsor sites listed below.
- The .aero domain, sponsored by Société Internationale de Télécommunication Aéronautiques (SITA), is exclusively reserved for the aviation community.
- The .coop domain, sponsored by DotCooperation LLC, is restricted to use by bona fide cooperatives and cooperative service organizations that ascribe to the Cooperative Principles of the ICA, such as member ownership and control.
- The .museum domain, sponsored by the Museum Domain Management Association (MuseDoma), was developed exclusively for the museum community.
Can I register a domain name that includes non-ASCii characters (such as Arabic or Chinese)?
Some top-level domains are offering Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) registrations. These can be registered by participating registrars. Contact your registrar for more information.
When I register a domain name, will my name and contact information become publicly available?
Information about who is responsible for domain names is publicly available to allow rapid resolution of technical problems and to permit enforcement of consumer protection, trademark, and other laws. The registrar will make this information available to the public on a "WhOIS" site. It is, however, possible to register a domain in the name of a third party, as long as they agree to accept responsibility -- ask your registrar for further details. More information about WHOIS can be found at whois.icann.org.
How long does a registration last? Can it be renewed?
Each registrar has the flexibility to offer initial and renewal registrations in one-year increments, provided that the maximum remaining unexpired term shall not exceed ten years.
I have seen advertisements for domain-name registration by companies not in the accredited registrar directory. Are these legitimate?
Many companies that are not accredited by ICANN offer domain registration services - some are reselling names obtained from accredited registrars. ICANN recommends that you deal directly with an accredited registrar.
- View a complete list of ICANN-Accredited Registrars
I just registered a domain name. How do I turn this into a working website?
For a domain name to resolve on the Internet, you will need to secure hosting services for the domain.
In general terms, you'll need to obtain a static (fixed) IP address for your computer from your ISP (although there are work-arounds for dynamically-assigned IP addresses). You'll need to arrange for two external computers acting as nameservers to point your domain at your IP address. Your registrar can then point your domain at the two nameservers which have been configured with your information.
For more detailed instructions, please ask your ISP, registrar, or search the web or Usenet for advice.
Some registrants do not know that the domain name registrar can be different from the entity providing web-hosting/email services.
While some registrars do provide web-hosting/email services along with domain name registration services, it could be the case that your web-hosting/email services are being provided by a different entity than your domain name registrar (who may also be a provider of web-hosting services). Your domain name is not the same thing as a website or a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). While some people assume that the creation of a domain name automatically means you have a website, what they don't understand is that a domain name is like a street address for getting postal mail: there must still be a building or post office box to receive letters or packages. You must purchase, find, or implement services like web hosting or email to make your Internet presence known by your domain name functional and accessible to others.
Am I required to sign up for hosting services from the same company where I registered the domain name?
No. Some registrars may offer hosting services or include them as part of a package when you register the name, but you are not required to use these services.
What is an "A" record and how do I change it?
Your 'A' record is your 'Address' record. By assigning a name to the IP address or vice versa, the web becomes easier to use. Contact your registrar to find out your options for changing your "A" record.
What is an 'MX' record and how do I change it?
Your Mail Exchanger (MX) record specifies where mail for a domain name should be delivered. The record must be an assigned domain name, which in turn points to an IP address. Contact your registrar to find out about your options for how to change it.
What happens if a registrar goes out of business?
If your registrar has gone out of business, it is common that they will pass their domain name registrations to another registrar. In some instances, such as when the registrar's accreditation is terminated by ICANN, the registrar or ICANN will identify an alternative registrar to take over management of the domain names of the registrar that has gone out of business. The new registrar will likely contact you. However, you can always determine the current registrar of your domain name by looking up the domain name in the Registration Data Directory Service at https://lookup.icann.org.
Registrar Suspension Questions
What does registrar suspension mean?
It means a registrar's ability to sponsor new domain names or initiate inbound transfers is temporarily suspended by ICANN. It's not a full suspension of the registrar's accreditation because other registrar services, such as outbound transfers, updates and domain renewals and redemptions, are not affected.
Why would an ICANN-accredited registrar be suspended?
Because the registrar has not fulfilled some important obligations under its accreditation agreement with ICANN. See Section 5.7 of the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) or Section 2.1 of the 2009 RAA.
Registrar suspension is an enforcement tool that is intended to give the registrar an opportunity to address the problems and become compliant with its RAA obligations.
How long will a registrar suspension last?
It will be for a fixed period, as specified in a notice of suspension. The suspension period could last for just a few days, up to 12 months, depending on the severity of the breaches and the surrounding circumstances.
How will the public be made aware of a registrar suspension?
All registrar suspensions (and any updates) will be communicated to the public through the posting of a notice of suspension on ICANN's Contractual Compliance web page.
In addition, the suspended registrar is required to prominently display on its web site a message informing registrants that no new registrations or inbound transfers will be accepted.
If I have domain names with a registrar that has been suspended by ICANN, will I lose my domain names?
No. Your domain names are still sponsored by the suspended registrar and governed by the terms of your registration agreement with the registrar and applicable ICANN Consensus Policies.
My domain name with the suspended registrar is about to expire. How can I make sure it is not lost during the suspension?
Domain renewals are not affected by registrar suspensions.
What happens if a domain name is registered through a reseller of the suspended registrar?
Your rights and obligations as the registered name holder (registrant) are not affected by a suspension. However, you should check the terms of your services agreement with the reseller to make sure you are aware of any additional terms that may affect you.
What will happen to the suspended registrar after the suspension period?
- If the registrar cures the breaches within the required timeframe, the suspension will end on the date specified in ICANN's notice of suspension to the registrar.
- If the registrar does not cure the breaches in a timely manner, ICANN may extend the suspension and eventually terminate the registrar's accreditation.
What happens if the suspended registrar's accreditation is eventually terminated by ICANN and how will registrants be affected?
What support does ICANN need from registries to suspend a registrar?
ICANN needs registries to implement blocking mechanisms to ensure that a suspended registrar is not able to create new Registered Names or initiate any inbound transfers of Register Names.
How will registries be informed of registrar suspensions?
ICANN will send the relevant registries a copy of the notice of suspension immediately after issuing the notice to the registrar.
ICANN will request that the relevant registries acknowledge receipt of the notice of suspension and confirm that blocking mechanisms will be implemented during the effective dates of the suspension.
How should registries respond to inquiries about a suspended registrar?
Registries should direct inquirers to the suspension notice and the related FAQs published on ICANN's web site and, if appropriate, to the complaint system or email.
Should registries process auto-renewals for suspended registrars?
Auto-renewals are not affected by suspension and thus can be processed under the normal course of business.
Will there be a standard execution time?
Yes. The suspension execution time will be stated in the notice of suspension. For example: The registrar suspension is effective 17:00:00 (UTC/GMT) 15 February 2012 through 17:00:00 (UTC/GMC) 15 March 2012.
If a registrar cures all breaches referenced in ICANN's notice of suspension, will the suspension period be shortened?
No. The suspension period referenced in the notice of suspension is fixed and will not be shortened.
Under what circumstances will ICANN consider extending the suspension period?
The suspension period may be extended if: (1) the impacted registrar fails to cure all breaches and ICANN must proceed with RAA termination; or (2) it is determined that additional time will be provided to the registrar to cure all breaches.
How will registries know if a registrar suspension will be extended or lifted?
ICANN will provide registries notice before the suspension is scheduled to end, whether the suspension will be extended or lifted.
How should registries report the status of a "suspended" registrar in their monthly reports to ICANN and what additional tracking information should be reflected in the monthly reports once a registrar comes off of suspension?
At this time, no additional reporting or tracking concerning suspended registrars will be required in registry monthly reports.
Will ICANN indemnify a registry for actions taken in support of a registrar suspension?
No. Complying with terms of suspension is no different than complying with a termination and considered a Registry Service under the Registry Agreement.
Will suspended registrars be prohibited from complying with court orders pertaining to inbound transfers?
A suspended registrar will not be prohibited from complying with an order from a court of competent jurisdiction ordering the inbound transfer of domain name.
Questions related to Contractual Compliance Approach and Process
ICANN approach and process can be found at this link: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/approach-processes-2012-02-25-en. ICANN, in collaboration with the different ICANN stakeholders, implemented the Informal and Formal Resolution processes. The processes ensure consistency for all parties involved, including ICANN's global staff, contracted parties and complainants.
ICANN undertakes various activities to ensure compliance with contractual obligations; some of the activities are a result of complaints, some are monitoring and others are audit-related.
The monitoring activities are ICANN-initiated, based in part on industry articles, social media postings, previous complaints, and trend analysis in an effort to proactively address any alleged failure to comply with contract terms.
Please refer to this link https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/audits-2012-02-25-en to learn more about ICANN Contractual Compliance Audit program and activities.
The Informal Resolution process allows ICANN's contractual compliance team to work closely with Registrars and Registries to help them understand their contractual obligations and overcome any contractual compliance challenges and issues they may have. ICANN attempts to resolve contractual compliance matters informally before pursuing formal remedies available under the agreements. ICANN does not provide details regarding contractual compliance activities in the informal resolution phase, in the interest of facilitating open dialogue and resolution. In certain cases, when ICANN determines that a contracted party must resolve a critical issue immediately, an escalated notice is sent. Failure to adequately respond to an escalated notice may result in a breach notice.
The Formal Resolution process, also known as the Enforcement Process, commences when contracted parties have either failed to sufficiently collaborate during the Informal Resolution process or otherwise continue to be noncompliant after attempts at informal resolution have been unsuccessful. Notices sent during the Formal Resolution process are published on https://www.icann.org/compliance/notices, and ICANN updates the progress of each enforcement action.
ICANN Contractual Compliance staff strives to address new complaints within 3-5 business days of receipt. The time it takes a contracted party to respond to contractual compliance matters in the informal resolution process varies. Depending on the type of complaint, a contracted party will have a certain number of days to respond to the complaint. The majority of complaint types follow a 5-5-5 business day deadline for each of the first three notices, respectively. In other words, there is a first notice with a 5 business day deadline to respond; if not resolved, there is a second notice with a 5 business day deadline to respond; and if not resolved, there is a third notice with a 5 business day deadline to respond. There are exceptions to the 5-5-5 business day structure for the first three notices based on timelines set by ICANN's agreements and consensus policies, and sometimes by other facts and circumstances. For example, Registrars have 15 business days to respond to a WhOIS Inaccuracy 1st Notice, and certain complaints have 24 hours turnaround (such as TEAC, URS suspension complaints and certain UDRP complaints). When a 3rd notice deadline passes in the Informal Resolution process and compliance issues remain, escalated notices will follow, up to and including breach notices, the scope of which depends on the collaboration, completeness and remediation time from the contracted party.
Metrics regarding the turn-around time of Registrars and Registries are shared with the community and posted in the outreach materials at https://www.icann.org/resources/compliance/outreach.
How does ICANN manage the contractual compliance complaints?
ICANN reviews all complaints it receives, regardless of the source, where the complaints are within the scope of agreement and consensus policies. ICANN works constructively with Registrars and Registries to foster a culture of contractual compliance.
The consolidated complaints processing system that ICANN uses to respond to complaints separates complaints by category. Certain complaints are automatically closed by the system, such as suspended domains in WHOIS inaccuracy complaints or if the complaint is outside the scope of the contracted party's contractual obligations to ICANN.
ICANN's contractual compliance department maintains working relationships with contracted parties and may engage with them informally regardless of whether there is a pending complaint. There does not need to be an open complaint for ICANN to engage in dialogue with a contracted party.
What are ICANN's role and responsibilities regarding alleged illegal activities on websites?
ICANN accredits companies as domain name Registrars and works to ensure contractual compliance with the terms and conditions of the 2009 and 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreements (RAAs). Although ICANN generally does not become involved with disputes regarding website content, ICANN investigates all reports of non-compliance with contractual obligations under the RAAs and takes appropriate action consistent with the terms of the RAAs.
ICANN is not a governmental or law enforcement agency and has no law enforcement authority. ICANN is also not a court and is not empowered to resolve disputes when parties disagree over what constitutes illegal activity in multiple countries around the world. Therefore, ICANN relies on governmental regulatory authorities and courts to police illegal activity. ICANN supports law enforcement efforts to fight illegal drug sales and will continue to work within the scope of its contractual authority to assist law enforcement and regulatory agencies, where empowered to do so. For example, where law enforcement or a regulatory agency obtains an appropriate court order, ICANN will comply with the court order and require its contracted parties to do the same.