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New gTLDs: What to Expect in 2012

Important Dates: Last day to register in TAS is 29 March 2012; Application Window Closes on 23 April 2012

Tremendous anticipation, planning, and work drove toward 12 January, 2012, the day ICANN began accepting applications for new gTLDs. Whether you've applied or not, your next question might be: "It's after 12 January. What happens next?"

Organizations who choose to apply to operate a top-level domain have merely begun a journey that will most likely carry them into 2013. If you're curious about the next phases of ICANN's New gTLD Program, here are highlights of what to expect.

29 March: Registration Closes

In the online TLD Application System (TAS), an applicant must first register, and then apply. 29 March 2012 is the last date for new user registrations, to meet the 12 April 2012 application deadline. This date is important as there are various processing requirements both in TAS and in the automated clearing houses that enable international financial transactions.

12 April: Application Window Closes

This is the last day ICANN accepts applications, including all evaluation fees, for a gTLD. ICANN will then shift focus to processing and evaluating the applications received.

1 May: "Reveal Day"

After checking all applications for essential completeness, ICANN will publicly post all TLD character strings that have been applied for, and who applied for each. This event triggers several more activities in the New gTLD program. Two of them are:

  • Application Comment Process. Anyone interested may submit comments to express any points to be considered by the independent evaluation panels while evaluating any of the new gTLD applications. The comment period closes 30 June.
  • Objection Period. Anyone with grounds to do so may submit a formal objection to any of the new gTLD applications. For more information, download the Objection and Dispute Resolution Fact Sheet. There's approximately a 7-month window to file a formal objection to any of the applications received.

12 June: Initial Evaluation Begins

Beginning 12 June, various evaluation panels will conduct the string reviews and applicant reviews that make up the Initial Evaluation. String reviews focus on whether an applied-for TLD is confusingly similar to an existing TLD, or even another applicant's; whether the TLD violates a reserved string; whether it contributes to DNS instability; and whether it is a geographic name which is not allowed. Applicant reviews focus on the applying organization to determine if they have demonstrated the appropriate technical, operational, and financial capabilities to run a registry. The applicant's proposed registry services will also be reviewed to determine whether they might cause DNS instability.

12 November: Results of Initial Evaluation

The initial evaluation period ends. ICANN posts the outcome of Initial Evaluation; whether applications have passed or failed evaluation. Some results may be posted earlier than this date. TLDs that failed the initial evaluation can request Extended Evaluation.

29 November: Last day to request Extended Evaluation

The Extended Evaluation period allows for one more exchange of information between the applicant and evaluators, to clarify information in the application. It is available only for applicants who failed certain reviews in initial evaluation.

30 November: Later phases for complex applications

In the ideal case, an application that has encountered no problems has passed evaluation by this date. The applied-for string can begin a transition that will result in being delegated into the root zone, and eventually the string will be live and reachable on the Internet as a TLD. However, some applications will be subject to special processes depending on the circumstances. For example, if more than one party has applied to operate the same TLD (a circumstance referred to as string contention), attempts to resolve the contention begin. (See Applicant Guidebook Module 4 for details.)

As you can see, the New gTLD Program forecasts a busy 2012. Some new gTLDs will clear the process late in the year, and be ready for delegation in early 2013. Other new gTLDs will have a longer path.

The dates listed here are based on the estimated timeframes as laid out in the Applicant Guidebook. Should the volume of applications or other circumstances require adjustment to the timeframes, ICANN will post updated information.

Now you know what else to expect from the New gTLD Program this calendar year.


Please note that this is a summary for information only. This posting is not intended to modify the Applicant Guidebook or any other aspect of the ICANN New gTLD program. If any information provided here appears to be inconsistent with any information published elsewhere by ICANN, please do not rely on this information without confirmation or clarification from ICANN.