I have recently registered some domains on the basically brand new .directory gTLD. Because of operating costs to maintain a gTLD, it is assumed that many of the hundreds being rolled out this year and next will fail. I will admit I am not very knowledgeable on how the TLD process works.

What exactly does a new TLD failing mean? I realize that they lose ICANN accreditation, but does that just mean that they will be no longer be sold? If the .directory TLD were to go under, would my .directory domains be affected? I bought it from domain registrar Gandi if that helps.

up vote 15 down vote accepted

If a registry breaches their ICANN agreement for business or technical reasons, ICANN can force them to transfer data to another registry through the Registry Transition Process.

For gTLDs, an RFP is sent out for someone to take over the registry. If no RFPs are received or approved, then the gTLD will be closed in accordance with the gTLD's sunset rules.

The Continued Operations Instrument is used for new gTLD applicants only. This however is not guaranteed since estimates are used. New gTLD registries have to show 3 years of estimated operating expenses on hand to get approval.

I do not know exactly how these two policies fit together. I suspect that ICANN will attempt to transfer the name to another entity as soon as they can to assure continuity. If they cannot, then the COI can be used to operate the domain for as long as possible.

In addition, all registries are required to escrow their data with a third party. This assures that key whois and other information is not lost in case of a technical or business failure.

  • ICANN has a list of EBEROs: Emergency Back End Registry Operators. These are registries accredited by ICANN and capable to immediately take a TLD (from backups mandated by ICANN to all registries towards a third party, which are also accredited by ICANN) and put it back in a working state, first for the DNS resolution (most important part), then RDDS (whois) then EPP. See icann.org/resources/pages/faqs-2013-04-02-en – Patrick Mevzek Jun 19 at 18:39

The new TLD operators have had to find a large bond upfront to cover the cost in case their business fails. The cost will go towards paying an "emergency registry operator" and is documented in ICANN's Continued Operations Instrument.

  • Thank You! I was trying to find something like this but came up short. Basically if it fails you have a 3 year warning period before the domain shuts down then? – KingCrab Jun 11 '14 at 15:29
  • It might not shut down, depends if the emergency operator finds the business viable, that is how I have read it. – user29671 Jun 11 '14 at 15:30

Not only domains won't be sold, but also they won't be served to the customers - so: yes, your domains from a failed TLD will basically disappear from the internet. That's why it's always good to have regular TLD on top of the ICANN-era one.

  • So if .directory goes under, I instantly lose service to this domain or do you mean I just won't be able to renew it? – KingCrab Jun 11 '14 at 15:13
  • @KingCrab You instantly loose a service. (Ok, to be more specific - as soon as Your browser and DNS finds out that domain is gone - browsers and DNS servers have a cache of domain names and their IP addresses) – MarcinWolny Jun 11 '14 at 15:20
  • @kingcrab it definitely won't be "instant", most likely there will be a period of a month or more to give you enough time to relocate the site. – DisgruntledGoat Jun 11 '14 at 16:10
  • 2
    It all depends on a specific circumstances that are very hard to predict once you remember that nothing identical has happened yet. So I wouldn't use word "definitely". – MarcinWolny Jun 11 '14 at 16:11

As a reseller of domains, it is my belief, gained from past experiences, that if a Registrar goes out of business, there may still be a chance to reclaim your domain name. You will need photo identification and proof that you are already the legal owner of the domain.

I strongly urge you to contact ICANN.

  • Although the OP is asking about what happens if the Registry (not the Registrar) goes out of business and the TLD itself is then under threat. – MrWhite Feb 6 '16 at 11:59

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