While the recent focus of the New gTLD Program has been centered around contention sets, auctions, and contracting, it isn’t too early for Registry Operators (especially brand owners) to start thinking about Registry Onboarding.
What is Registry Onboarding?
According to the process laid out by ICANN, Registry Onboarding takes place after the execution of the Registry Agreement, and before Delegation of the gTLD into the root (when the gTLD becomes a “live” gTLD). As a prerequisite for Delegation, the Registry Onboarding process consists of syncing the Registry Operator with ICANN to ensure smooth ongoing operations. It includes important steps such as completing Pre-Delegation Testing, establishing emergency points of contact with ICANN, and registering with the Trademark Clearinghouse.
What’s the timeframe?
Officially, the Registry Operator must complete the Registry Onboarding process within 12 months of signing the Registry Agreement. However, the Registry Operator could tackle multiple tasks simultaneously, and it may be able to complete the entire onboarding process in 8 weeks or less with proper preparation.
What do brand owners need to know?
It’s important to make sure arrangements with your back-end provider are clear and that you have a process in place, especially if you want to move quickly through the onboarding process. Here are a few key considerations new Registry Operators should keep in mind as they move through the process.
First, the Registry Operator should connect with the back-end registry service provider to review responsibilities and coordinate communication with ICANN. While ICANN provides instructions in the Welcome Kit for New gTLD Registry Operators, the delineation between the Registry Operator’s responsibility and the back-end’s responsibility is not always clear.
The Registry Operator should also establish clear internal points of contact and responsibilities. Unlike previous phases of the New gTLD Process, the onboarding process will require the Registry Operator to manage two communication portals with ICANN – the Customer Service Center (CSC) Portal and the Global Domains Division (GDD) Portal. Moreover, 22 points of contact must be provided to ICANN during onboarding. One individual may take on multiple responsibilities, but the Registry Operator should ensure that it is fully aware of the expectations.
Finally, the Registry Operator’s contract with the back-end may include additional fees for onboarding services. Therefore, it is important to review the relationship with the back-end registry service provider to ensure that there are no surprises.
Registry Onboarding serves as a basis of the operational relationship between the Registry Operator and ICANN. Once this step is completed, the Registry Operator will be able to proceed to the TLD Launch phase, and eventually to general registration and use.