by New gTLD Customer Service Center | 7 March 2012
Prior to the 12 April 2012 close of the New gTLD application window, an even more important deadline is quickly approaching: 29 March 2012 marks the last possible day to register with ICANN's TLD Application System (TAS) in order to apply for a New gTLD.
All applicants must officially register by completing their TLD application request no later than 23:59 UTC on 29 March 2012. This date is critical for all new and existing applicants in order to ensure that they are registered and therefore are allowing a sufficient amount of time for the entire application submission process to be completed by the close date of 12 April 2012.
An announcement discussing this critical date was released on 29 February 2012 (http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-29feb12-en.htm). As a follow up to the announcement, the New gTLD Customer Service Center recently sat down with Michael Salazar, New gTLD Program Director and Robb Antrobus, New gTLD Operations Director, to talk about the importance of this deadline and additional information that might be useful for applicants.
CSC: Let's start with the obvious question, why is it important for applicants to meet the 29 March registration deadline when the application window does not close until 12 April?
Michael: The entire application process is complex and can be time intensive. A number of steps have to be taken throughout the process that can potentially take several days to complete. We have put in place the 29 March registration deadline as a tool to ensure that all applicants are given sufficient time to complete the entire application process from start to finish.
CSC: Can you describe the various steps of the application process?
Robb: Sure, there are 7 steps in the application process:
Step 1, the applicant creates a TAS account and completes their user and/or applicant profile by answering questions 1 – 12 of the application.
Step 2, the applicant requests an application. This is the step that must be completed by 29 March 2012.
Step 3, ICANN performs the legal compliance check of the application request.
Step 4, the applicant then pays the USD 5000 registration fee.
Step 5, ICANN reconciles the registration fee payment and releases the TAS credentials.
Step 6, the applicant submits their application.
Lastly, in Step 7, the applicant pays the remaining USD 180000 evaluation fee.
So as you can see, there are a number of steps involved in the process that can take several days to complete, hence the importance of the 29 March registration deadline.
I want to share with you a graphic that helps to illustrate the steps I've just talked about:
CSC: So what exactly does the 29 March deadline mean? Which of the steps that you have just described must be completed by 29 March?
Robb: The simple answer is that 29 March is the last day to complete step 2.
If you have not registered in TAS and plan on submitting one application, you will need to complete Step 2 by the 29 March deadline.
If you have not registered in TAS and plan on submitting multiple applications, you will need to begin the registration process at least 5-7 business days ahead of the 29 March deadline. The reason is that only existing TAS users can request multiple applications. Alternatively, if you wait until the 29 March deadline and plan to file multiple applications, you must register for a separate TAS user account for each application you plan to submit.
What does this mean? Well, to submit multiple applications under a TAS user account, you must first complete steps 1 through 5 and receive your TAS login credentials. Once you receive these credentials, you can request additional applications under that TAS user account.
However, because of the various ways in which TAS users can use their account to request additional applications (up to 49 per TAS user account) the process can be fairly complex. Please refer to the detail in the TAS User Guide (http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/tas/user-guide-11jan12-en.pdf [PDF, 8.1 MB]). What is important to note is if you plan on requesting a number of applications, you should familiarize yourself with TAS and the TAS User Guide as early as possible.
CSC: Is an applicant only allowed to submit a request for one application at a time?
Robb: Not necessarily. Only one application may be requested during the initial registration process for a new TAS user account (i.e., completing steps 1 through 5). After you receive your TAS login credentials, you may request multiple applications at the same time under this TAS user account. In other words, you do not need to wait for ICANN to approve one application request before submitting another. Once again, the subsequent requests can still take some time to complete thus you should start this process as early as possible.
CSC: What about the USD 5000 registration fee payment? Is that due by the 29 March deadline as well?
Michael: As we mentioned previously, the 29 March deadline is really the last day for you to submit a request for an application. The USD 5000 registration fee payment may be sent after this date. However, it is in the best interest of the applicant to send the USD 5000 registration fee by 29 March. There are many variables around the payment of the registration fee that can lengthen the application process. Some of which are outside of ICANN or the applicant's control such as the time that it takes for the bank to transfer the money, incomplete information on the wire that delays ICANN's ability to reconcile payments (especially true with ACH wires), etc. So we strongly recommend that applicants send in their registration fee payments as early as possible to account for these factors and give themselves enough time to subsequently submit the application and wire the remaining USD 180000 evaluation fee before the close of the application window on 12 April 2012.
CSC: You mentioned the legal compliance check and payment reconciliation. How long do those steps take?
Robb: The legal compliance check generally takes 1-2 business days to complete, and the payment reconciliation, meaning ICANN Finance reconciling the payment details submitted by the applicant in TAS against the details provided by our bank, takes approximately 3-5 business days to complete. Remember that the 3 to 5 business days is in addition to whatever time it takes for our bank to receive the wired funds. So the actual time really depends on the circumstances of the application.
CSC: Can you expand on what some of those factors may be?
Robb: Sure. On the legal compliance check, incorrect or insufficient information in TAS could result in ICANN taking longer than 1-2 business days to complete this process.
On the payment reconciliation, there are a number of things that could cause a delay in the reconciliation of the payment. Some examples include:
- Incomplete registration fee payment details captured in TAS. We have noticed some applicants have forgotten to go back into TAS and add this information after sending the wire. Without this information, there is nothing for ICANN to reconcile payment against so we remind applicants to complete this step after sending the wire.
- A second example that can cause a delay in the reconciliation of the payment is if the payment is less than the required USD 5000 amount because transaction fees may have been deducted from the sending bank, intermediary bank, or receiving bank. Remember that ICANN must receive USD 5000 net of all taxes and fees so applicants must ensure that they indicate that the sender will bear these costs and not the recipient (i.e., ICANN). In cases where ICANN does receive less than USD 5000, the applicant must execute another wire to cover the remaining fees before they can proceed.
- A third example is the wire transfer mechanism used can create delays. We have noticed that wires sent via ACH take significantly longer to reconcile because of the extremely limited information ICANN receives with the wire. We strongly recommend that applicants send their payments via SWIFT.
- And lastly, delays can occur when inaccurate or insufficient information is provided in either the Payment Details screen or in the wire notes. We have experienced a number of instances where the wire reference ID or application ID has not been given to the bank to include in the wire details. We strongly encourage that applicants ensure this information is included to help expedite the payment reconciliation process.
CSC: What if the applicant cannot prepare their application by the 29 March deadline, is there any mechanisms to request an extension?
Michael: At this time, there are no mechanisms to request extensions. We strongly recommend that the applicant register in TAS as soon as possible in order to receive the TAS login credentials. Then, the applicant will have until 12 April to submit the application. Remember that if you wait until 29 March to submit your first registration for TAS then you may only have a few business days left to complete the rest of the application submission process given the processing times and potential processing delays highlighted by Robb.
CSC: What if the applicant has changes to their TAS user account (user or applicant profiles)? Is there a deadline to submit requests for these changes?
Michael: That's a great question. The answer is that in general, any changes that will require ICANN to perform another legal compliance check will have to be submitted by 29 March.
CSC: What are some examples of changes that would require ICANN to perform another legal compliance check?
Robb: Examples would include changes to the payer information (i.e., the organization paying the USD 5000 or USD 180000 registration fee), changes to the applicant name, shareholder/officers/partners information. These changes would typically require ICANN to perform another legal compliance check.
CSC: Well, thank you very much for being with us today. We appreciate your clarification on the importance of the fast-approaching registration deadline.
Michael and Robb: Thank you very much.