New TLD contracting
The following is an outline of the Contracting process for New gTLD applicants as defined by ICANN. It is our goal to supplement this with actual contracting timelines and action items that are encountered by new TLD applicants. Information can be edited directly, or contact Elise Ferguson, elise[at]tldesign.co
- 1 Steps & Timeline
- 2 Contracting Information Request (CIR)
- 3 Registry Agreement
- 4 Registry Onboarding: Step 1
- 5 TMDB Integration Testing
- 6 Pre-Delegation Testing
- 7 Transition to IANA and Delegation
- 8 Delegation
- 9 Registry Onboarding: Step 2
- 10 Registry Onboarding: Step 3
- 11 Applicant Examples
- 12 References
Steps & Timeline
- approx. 4-6 weeks from CIR invitation to RA provisioning
- Sign Registry Agreement
- ICANN estimates it will take 60 days from signing the RA to Delegation if there are no delays
- Registry Onboarding: Step 1
- TMDB Integration Testing
- Pre-Delegation Testing (approx. 3-4 weeks)
- Transition to IANA (approx. 4-6 weeks)
- Registry Onboarding: Step 2
- Registry Onboarding: Step 3
- TLD Startup Information
- Sunrise (min. 60 days)
Contracting Information Request (CIR)
- UPDATE: as of February 18, 2014, ICANN has released a new CIR form that is designed to be more user friendly. Guidelines addressing the new CIR have been posted on ICANN's website. This new form should not affect any applicant who has already successfully submitted the CIR. However, for those currently filling out the CIR, their data should be transferred onto the new CIR form.
- The main changes to the CIR include: removing the COI section and Exhibit A section. Although these sections are no longer included in the CIR, COI information and any declarations of cross ownership must still be provided through cases in the CSC portal in order for the overall contracting process to move forward.
- The one element that seems to be added to the new CIR is a Billing Point of Contact section.
- See Contracting Information Request summary and example.
- ICANN's CIR Guide, with examples & Sample Disclosures of Cross Ownership Interests and Irrevocable Standby Letters of Credit
- CIR invitations go out on Wednesdays.
- ICANN suggested timeline between the CIR and RA: 4-6 weeks 
- An applicant will have 9 months after receiving the initial CIR invitation to enter into a Registry Agreement with ICANN. Applicants may also request an extension of this period through the Customer Service Portal (CSC). Applicants who have already received CIR invitations will start their official 9 month period on Wednesday January 29, 2014.
- New information from ICANN Singapore suggests that the time between filling out the CIR and executing the RA could take as little as 3 weeks. However, as many as 61% of applicants "are processed within 41 calendar days."
- Applicant timeline examples:
- Download Base Agreement, supplement
- ICANN suggested timeline: 7 days, based on the following weekly schedule. 
- Thursday-Monday: draft RAs
- Tuesday-Wednesday: send the RA out for signature
- Thursday: execute RA
- Friday: post RA
- Note: ICANN's estimate of 7 days represents how long it takes ICANN to create and process the RA internally. However, because applications are processed by priority number, this step may take longer. Taking this into account, new ICANN data suggests that the average execution time for the RA once it is send to the applicant is 13 days, possibly due to renegotiation and other delays.
- Applicant timeline examples: ____ days
- Donuts Inc., which has signed RAs for a significant number of applications, generally has received RAs ready for signature on Tuesday with ICANN returning them countersigned by Thursday. 
Registry Onboarding: Step 1
- ICANN suggested timeline: 6 weeks, simultaneous with 6 week PDT 
- Applicant timeline examples: ____ days
- Registry Onboarding takes place in steps throughout the contracting process.
- The first step of Registry Onboarding can take place after the execution of the RA, and it includes gathering contact information and verifying “credentialing and operational support.” 
- Contact Sheet - Establishes appropriate contacts for various contingencies.
- Onboarding Information Request (ONB-IR) - Can be established concurrently with PDT, but must be completed prior to Delegation. Includes information on Zone File Access; Bulk Thin Registration Data Access; Data Escrow Registry Reporting; URS; EPP; IDN Tables; SLA Monitoring.
- Without completing this step, one cannot move on to delegation. 
Applicant Tips and Experience
- The ONB-IR is sent out as a text file and must be submitted as a text file, unlike other documents ICANN asks registries to submit.
- Registries also must submit individual paperwork for each new gTLD.
- New information given in a recent Applicant Update Webinar stated that while step 1 of Registry Onboarding was expected to be completed simultaneously with PDT, many applicants are not ready to submit or have not already submitted the ONB-IR information by the end of PDT. This may increase the time it takes to reach delegation.
TMDB Integration Testing
- Integration Testing can start after the RA or RAA is signed, though a registry operator or registrar can request a registration token via email prior to signing if they have an active gTLD application. 
- ICANN suggested timeline: Integration Testing must be completed before TLD Startup Information can be submitted. It does not need to be completed before PDT.
- Applicant timeline examples:___
- Certification that one has passed TMDB Integration Testing is a necessary component of the TLD Startup Information.
- To begin TMDB Integration Testing process, use the new gTLD name and registration token to register on TMDB's website.
- TMDB Integration Testing for registries will include the following tests:
- Download a SMD Revocation List.
- Download a DNL list.
- Upload a Sunrise LORDN file with at least three (3) domain names that have been validated using the "testing SMDs" generated by the Trademark Clearinghouse; retrieve the related LORDN log file.
- Download a Trademark Notice (CNIS file) using a test 'Lookup Key' obtained by downloading a "sample DNL" file from the TMDB OT&E. Upload a Claims LORDN file with at least three (3) domain names that have been validated using the "testing CNIS files"; retrieve the related LORDN log file." 
- If the connection to download the CNIS appears to be hanging check your source IP matches the ACL IP in the CNIS TMDB Test Profile.
- For step by step instruction on TMDB Integration Testing, see ICANN's TMDB Registration and Platform Access Process Document or the Registry User Manual Version 2.3.
- Reading the Terms and Conditions of the TMDB, located here, ahead of time can be helpful. 
- TMDB Integration Testing does not have to be completed before PDT; it only needs to be completed before submitting TLD Startup Information.
- Exemption for additional TLDs can be applied for after three (3) certification passes, see  for the template, populate section 1 only and email the .doc file to IBM.
- See Pre-Delegation Testing for summary
- The current PDT capacity is 20 testing slots per week. The number of testing slots can be increased if there is advanced notice; however, the PDT system has not yet reached or exceeded weekly capacity.
- PDT invitations go out on Fridays, appointments are confirmed on Tuesdays, and results are released on Thursdays.
- ICANN suggested timeline: 3-4 weeks
- Applicant timeline examples: 17-24 days, with an outlier of 39 days.
- 21 days, Aug. 5-Aug. 26; DotShabaka. Yasmin Omer has explained that as the first applicant to go through PDT, their experience should not be taken as indicative of current ICANN processes.
- 24 days, Nov. 4-Nov. 28; Dot Chinese Online and Dot Chinese Website  
- 17 days, Nov. 25-Dec. 12; for Donuts Inc.'s .holiday 
- This is the fastest time frame for PDT Donuts Inc. has experienced. 
- 24 days; for Donuts Inc. 
- 18 days, Nov. 4-21; for DotStrategy's .buzz
- 39 days, Jan. 13-Feb. 20; for Top Level Design's .ink.
Tips & Resources
- Changes to the PDT Process may be made by ICANN, possibly regarding data escrow, in the coming months; those applicants who have already completed PDT will not be held accountable for new or differing requirements.
- Be prepared to complete any additional ONB-IR requests during PDT.
- Applicants need to use a specific PDT encryption key for testing Data Escrow services.
- See the PDT encryption key
- ICANN's Self-Test Tools
Transition to IANA and Delegation
- ICANN's list of delegated strings
- ICANN suggested timeline: 4-6 weeks 
- An initial ICANN 48 presentation stated there was an estimated 2 week period for transitioning to delegation, an update of the slide presentation from Buenos Aires shows that this estimate has since been lengthened. 
- In an ICANN 49 presentation, it was stated that an applicant would normally receive a delegation token about a week or so after the successful completion of PDT.
- Generally, Delegation POC requests are sent out on Tuesdays and Delegation Tokens are sent on Thursdays.
- Applicant timeline example from the end of PDT to delegation:
- 21 days, Oct. 17-Nov. 6; for Donuts Inc.'s .singles 
- 20 days; for Top Level Design's .ink
- Applicant timeline examples from date of ICANN's invitation to delegation:
- Applicant timeline example from receiving delegation token to delegation:
- 6 days, Dec. 12-18; for DotStrategy's .buzz
- 14 days, Feb. 27-Mar. 12; for Top Level Design's .ink
Transition to IANA
Below is a brief overview of the transition process provided by ICANN:
- Open the Transition to IANA Case in the Customer Portal
- Provide Delegation POC
- After ICANN validates the delegation POC, obtain IANA token later used to start delegation 
See ICANN's Customer Portal User Guide: Transition to Delegation PDF for specific instructions.
At ICANN 49, an IANA representative offered some advice to applicants to help their transition to IANA go more smoothly:
- Know that every contact provided by the registry to IANA will be contacted and must respond from each email account listed, even if the accounts belong to the same person.
- Make sure the appointed delegation POC is prepared to receive the pin via email.
- IANA will ask for the name of the organization, the name provided by the delegation POC must exactly match the name on the RA; if it does not, it will fail IANA's verification mechanisms.
- If you receive a notice from IANA regarding a technical failure on the part of the registry or its credentials, there may not be a need to panic. IANA's verification and checks are designed to be conservative and may result in false positives. If you are notified of this kind of failure, contact IANA.
Below is an overview provided by the dotShabaka Registry:
- Notification of eligibility for Alternate Path to delegation and report
- Request for Delegation POC
- Delegation token sent through CSC portal
- Delegation PIN sent to Delegation POC
- Token and pin entered into RZM system to initiate process
- Following information entered:
- Manager: also know as the "Registry" or "Sponsoring Organization"
- Administrative and Technical Contacts
- Authoritative Name servers maintained to serve the TLD
- Registration Information: additional information including location of whois server" 
- dotShabaka also had some recommendations for the delegation process, such as:
- making sure that the Delegation POC and Primary Contact are the same
- ensuring that whois is located at whois.nic.tld
- and hosting the whois server at a different location during the delegation process
- Some applicants have found it helpful to have TLD Startup Information prepared and ready to be submitted directly after the new gTLD is delegated.
- The quick 5-6 day turn around seems to be fairly consistent for delegation. Plan accordingly, and be prepared with plans for the new gTLD's website, nic.newtld.
- A recent webinar clarified that it is not required for the applicant to have a website at nic.newtld but that at delegation whois.nic.newtld should be set up.
- When listing your name servers for IANA during the delegation process, make sure you enter both the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses separated by a space.
- Make sure both Delegation POC and Primary Contact are responsive.
Registry Onboarding: Step 2
- Step 2 of Registry Onboarding starts at delegation.
- It mainly involves using the information provided in Step 1 to institute service infrastructures.
- See ICANN 48's Contracting and Registry Onboarding Presentation for an overview of the complete list of infrastructures set up during Step 2.
Registry Onboarding: Step 3
- Step 3 can begin "as early as delegation." 
TLD Startup Information
- TLD Startup Information Form: outlines the Sunrise, Claims, and other registration periods for the new TLD, in addition to describing the registry's policies, such as any specific restrictions on registration during the Sunrise and Claims Periods.  It should also include certification that the registry has passed TMCH Integration Testing. 
- Blank TLD Startup Information Form
- A sample (pdf) of Donuts Inc.'s Trademark Clearinghouse TLD Startup Information Form for .gallery
- A sample (.docx) of dotShabaka's Trademark Clearinghouse TLD Startup Information Form
- Launch Program Application: can be completed anytime after the contracting process has begun and needs to be submitted to ICANN before the Sunrise Period starts.
- Launch Program Application (PDF) provided by ICANN.
- A sample (pdf) of dotShabaka's Launch Policy
- New information on Qualified Launch Plans (QLPs) is expected to be released by ICANN. There is currently a draft that is open to public comment that addresses if and how registries could allocate some of their 100 reserved names to 3rd parties for the promotion of new gTLDs. QLPs could allow applicants to give names to 3rd parties as long as the name is not on the TMCH list (unless it will be allocated to the rights holder or public authorities).
- Launch Program Application (PDF) provided by ICANN.
Tips & Additional Information
- It is not necessary to provide gTLD prices or pricing strategies in Startup Documents.
- After the 7 day window ICANN uses to process the TLD Startup Information, it then will schedule dates that fit the TMCH requirements with IBM for the claims period. Both the registry and IBM will then confirm the dates. 
- An update from the TMCH indicates that it will continue to provide Notice of Registered Names (NORN) to trademark holders if an individual registers domains matching their TMCH stored trademark after the 90 day period required in the new gTLD program ends. 
- See Sunrise Period summary, (min. 60 days)
- ICANN's current list of Sunrise and Trademark Claims Periods
- A sample (pdf) of Donuts Inc.'s Complete Registry Policy for .guru
- A sample (pdf) of dotShabaka's Sunrise Dispute Resolution Policy
- A sample (pdf) of .buzz's Sunrise Policy and Sunrise Dispute Resolution Policy
dotShabakadotShabaka, beginning with the execution of their registry agreement. 
- NOTE: dotShabaka's 30 day Landrush Period is scheduled to begin on Jan. 2 and to conclude on Jan. 31, 2014. It's General Availability (GA) date is set for Feb. 4, 2014. 
Dot Chinese Online and Dot Chinese Website
- PDT begins-Monday Nov. 4, 2013
- PDT ends-Thursday Nov. 28, 2013
- Sunrise begins-Friday Jan. 17, 2014
- Sunrise ends-Monday Mar. 17, 2014
- 2 day quiet period
- Landrush begins-Thursday Mar. 20, 2014
- Landrush ends-Thursday Apr. 24, 2014
- 3 day quiet period
- GA begins-Monday Apr. 28, 2014
DotStrategy's .Buzz Timeline
- CIR Form-Wednesday Sept. 11, 2013
- RA Executed-Wednesday Oct. 2, 2013
- PDT Eligibility Notice-Friday Oct. 4, 2013
- Additional ONB-IR Q38 and Q39-Monday Nov. 4, 2013
- PDT begins-Monday Nov. 4, 2013
- PDT ends-Thursday Nov. 21, 2013
- Transition to IANA: POC Request-Friday Dec. 6, 2013
- Transition to IANA: Token-Thursday Dec. 12, 2013
- Delegated-Wednesday Dec. 18, 2013
- Start-Up Information Submitted to ICANN-Friday Dec. 20, 2013
- Launch Dates confirmed-Monday Dec. 23, 2013
- Sunrise begins-Wednesday Jan. 15, 2014
- Sunrise ends-Tuesday Mar. 18, 2014
- Landrush begins-Thursday Mar. 20, 2014
- Landrush ends-Thursday Apr. 10, 2014
- 5 day quite period
- GA begins-Tuesday Apr. 15, 2014
Top Level Design's .wiki
.wiki is currently going through the new gTLD contracting program and will update its timeline as it hits important landmarks in the process.
- Signed RA-Thursday Nov. 7, 2013
- PDT begins-Monday Jan. 6, 2014
- PDT passed-Thursday Jan. 30, 2014
- Transition to IANA: POC Request-Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014
- Transition to IANA: Token-Thursday Feb. 7, 2014
- Transition to IANA: Information Sent-Monday Feb. 10, 2014
- Delegation: Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014
- Submitted Start-up Information: Thursday Feb. 20, 2014
- ICANN Confirms Launch Dates: Wednesday Feb. 26, 2014
- Sunrise Begins: Monday Mar. 3, 2014
- Sunrise Ends: Monday May 5, 2014
- Quiet Period 1: May 6-7, 2014
- Land Rush Begins: Thursday May 8, 2014
- Land Rush Ends: Thursday May 22, 2014
- Quiet Period 2: May 23-25, 2014
- General Availability: Tuesday May 27, 2014
Top Level Design's .ink
.ink is currently going through the new gTLD contracting program and will update its timeline as it hits important landmarks in the process.
- Signed RA-Thursday, December 5
- PDT Begins-Thursday, Jan 30
- PDT Ends-Thursday, Feb 20
- Note: This 39 day period in PDT seems to be longer than the averages suggested by other applicants.
- Transition to IANA: POC Request-Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014
- Transition to IANA: Token-Thursday, Feb 27, 2014
- Transition to IANA: Information Sent-Friday, Feb 28, 2014
- Delegation: Wednesday March 12, 2014
- Note: 13 days seems to be longer than average amount of time to reach delegation based on the other timeline examples.
- Submitted Start-up Information: Friday March 14, 2014
- ICANN Confirms Launch Dates: Thursday March 20, 2014
- Sunrise Begins: Monday, March 31
- Sunrise Ends: Monday, June 2
- Quiet Periods 1: June 3-4
- Land Rush Begins: Thursday, June 5
- Land Rush Ends: Thursday, June 19
- Quiet Period 2: June 20-22
- General Availability: Monday, June 23
- Be sure your TLD is on the PSL so that it works smoothly with major browsers.
- Applicants found ICANN's customer service responses to questions to be helpful and timely. Contact ICANN through the Customer Service Portal or by emailing questions to newgltd@ICANN.org.
- Be prepared for important documents or notices to be sent out for completion by ICANN on Fridays.
- While .buzz initially received priority #746, it was the 54th string delegated. Having a higher priority number, then, may not necessarily slow down the delegation process at this point in the new gTLD program.
- The February Applicant Update Webinar released these statistics: applicants who signed RAs in November or December were able to reach delegation in 60 days on average as opposed to 75 days which was the average for applicants who signed RAs before November. ICANN representatives identified the decrease in time as a result of applicant responsiveness and readiness.
- Filing a change request can result in a 4-6 week delay depending on the change. Changing POCs can take as little as 1-2 days. Large "material" changes can result in applicant re-evaluation which can cost up to $10,000 for financial or technical changes and $2,000 for registry services, and take longer to review.
- Look for possible changes to the contracting process regarding name collision proceedings for delegated vs. not-yet-delegated names as ICANN has just released a new Name Collision Mitigation Report that suggests possible changes to the current new gTLD program. However, the report is still undergoing public comment.
- Statements made at ICANN Singapore suggest that strings that have already been delegated will not be affected by any new proposal adopted but will use the previously agreed upon name collision mitigation techniques.
- http://singapore49.icann.org/en/schedule/mon-new-gtld PDF Download. Willett, Christine. Singapore New gTLD Program Update
- http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/announcements-and-media/webinars PDF download Applicant Update Webinar, February 21, 2014.
- http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/announcements-and-media/webinars New gTLD Applicant Webinar, Jan. 22
- http://buenosaires48.icann.org/en/schedule/mon-new-gtld PDF New gTLD Program Update from ICANN 48 Buenos Aires Presentation
- Ondo, Crystal. Personal Communication.
- Papac, Krista. Registry Onboarding. PDF download
- http://buenosaires48.icann.org/en/schedule/mon-new-gtld/transcript-new-gtld-18nov13-en PDT Papac, Krista.
- http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/about/trademark-clearinghouse/scsvcs PDF TMDB Registration and Platform Access Process Document
- Omer, Yasmin. dotShabaka Registry – Delegation & Beyond, ICANN 48 Presentation
- http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/announcements-and-media/webinars GDD Update Webinar held May 21, 2014
- PDT FAQ v.2.2, ICANN
- http://internetregistry.info/pre-delegation-testing-start-date-announced-dot-chinese-online-%E5%9C%A8%E7%BA%BF-dot-chinese-website-%E4%B8%AD%E6%96%87%E7%BD%91/ TLD Registry: The Essential New Chinese TLDs
- http://edm.illuminantpartners.com/t/r-1391716757ABD0662540EF23F30FEDED TLD Registry Newsletter, Dec. 2013 issue
- Doshier, Bill. Personal Communication.
- Kuhl, Rubens. Personal Communication
- http://singapore49.icann.org/en/schedule/mon-launch-onboarding Lentz, Karen and Krista Papac. TLD Launch Process Experiences and Registry Onboarding
- http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/customer-service/user-guide-transition-delegation-05sep13-en.pdf PDF Customer Portal User Guide: Transition to Delegation
- PDF http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/about/trademark-clearinghouse/rpm-requirements-faqs-12nov13-en.pdf Trademark Clearinghouse Rights Protection Mechanism Requirements Frequently Asked Questions
- http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/about/trademark-clearinghouse PDF Trademark Clearinghouse Rights Protection Mechanism Requirements: Approved Launch Program Application Process
- http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/announcements-and-media/webinars, 22 January 2014; Additional Questions and Answers PDF
- http://domainnamewire.com/2013/12/13/a-little-bit-more-about-the-trademark-clearinghouses-extended-alert-service/ Allemann, Andrew. Retrieved on 13 Dec. 2013
- Murphy, Kevin. First Come, First-Served Sunrise Periods on the Cards. http://domainincite.com/14627-first-come-first-served-sunrise-periods-on-the-cards
- http://internetregistry.info/go-live-dates-dot-chinese-online-%E5%9C%A8%E7%BA%BF-dot-chinese-website-%E4%B8%AD%E6%96%87%E7%BD%91/ Isokoski, Arto. "Go-Live Dates for Dot Chinese Online (.在线) & Dot Chinese Website" (.中文网)