Strategic planning for the new gTLD program

With the increasing demand for unique and meaningful domain extensions, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has begun preparation for its much anticipated 2nd round of the New Generic Top-Level Domain (ngTLD) Program. ICANN promised to release its implementation plan and schedule in the first week of August, and it delivered on that promise. To keep you informed and ahead of the game, our team of 101domain experts has reviewed ICANN’s recently released implementation plan to provide you with the latest information you need to know on the forthcoming launch of more generic top-level domains, now expected in 2026.

ICANN’s Next New gTLD Program

Since our previous update, ICANN has acknowledged the feedback and suggestions from the community and is dedicated to reducing the timeline for opening the next round of new gTLD submissions. The specifics of the timeline remain dependent on the completion of several workstreams, including the Registry Service Provider Evaluation Program, the Applicant Support Program, and the Applicant Guidebook. However, ICANN’s commitment to accountability and transparency means they will provide implementation updates to the community approximately two weeks before each ICANN meeting, keeping stakeholders well-informed throughout the process.

Dates & Deadlines

June 2024

The Registry Service Provider (RSP) Guidebook will be published that will set requirements for any registries participating in the process.

Q4 2024 New gTLD Program

Submissions for the Applicant Support Program (ASP) will open.

Q2 2025 New gTLD Program

A draft of the Applicant Guidebook will be available to the public.

October 2025

The Applicant Guidebook is expected to be finalized and published, and a list of pre-approved RSPs will be available to the public.

April 2026

The Application submission period is expected to begin.

It’s important to note that some of these dates are estimates and subject to change.  As we’ve seen in the past with ICANN’s processes, dates may change, as the program continues through community development.

The Registry Service Provider Evaluation Program

The Registry Service Provider (RSP) Evaluation Program aims to ensure RSPs (or the registry operators themselves if acting as their own RSP) have the proper technical qualifications for running a TLD. The RSP Program builds on processes from the 2012 round and aims to bring efficiencies to the evaluation process.

RSP candidates will have the option to be pre-evaluated before the new gTLD application submission period or undergo RSP evaluation during the new gTLD application process. Pre-evaluation is expected to open between two and six months, beginning approximately 18 months before the new gTLD application submission period. ICANN expects to publish a list of all pre-evaluated RSPs that gTLD applicants can select from. We are working closely with RSPs and can help you with the selection process.

The Applicant Support Program

The Applicant Support Program (ASP) is an initiative developed to ensure worldwide accessibility to, and competition within, the New gTLD Program. The ASP supports applicants who may find the application fee prohibitive and need access to professional services to help submit their applications. The ASP reduces the gTLD application fee and facilitates access to professional service providers willing to volunteer their time to advise applicants who qualify.

Applicants will be able to apply as early as 18 months before the New gTLD Program application submission period opens. Opening the application submission period for ASP in advance allows ICANN to identify the number of applicants requesting support, inform budget allocations, and select pro bono providers. This also prevents applicants from paying a new gTLD application fee before they know whether they qualify for support. Applicants seeking support will be notified whether they qualify before the New gTLD Program application submission period opens.

The ASP application is separate from the New gTLD Program application. It requires information about the applicant’s organization, demonstrated financial need, and how the entity’s work is related to public interest benefit. The ASP application will not request information related to the string for which the applicant intends to apply, so no priority is awarded for delegating domain extension strings.

When will ICANN begin accepting applications for new gTLDs?

The submission period for new gTLD applications is currently scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2026, with a potential closure in the third quarter of the same year. It’s worth noting that the timeline hinges on the timely completion of essential policy work.

What are the estimated application fees?

While ICANN has not yet released the exact application fees, they have committed to announcing them before publishing the Applicant Guidebook. Early estimates suggest that prices could fall between $200,000 to $270,000. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that ICANN is pursuing a cost recovery fee model, and these figures may change significantly based on ICANN’s cost forecasts.

How many applications will be accepted?

ICANN foresees an influx of approximately 2,000 applications during this round of the New gTLD Program. This number could be even higher due to ICANN’s expanded outreach efforts, coinciding with the Applicant Support Program, which seeks to reach out to potential applicants worldwide over the next three years. Out of these submissions, ICANN expects to approve around 1,200 new TLDs. Considering the high expected interest, it is crucial to begin internal discussions early. 

Strategic planning for success

Waiting until the Applicant Guidebook is published in Q4 of 2025 to initiate internal conversations on applying for a new gTLD could be problematic. The submission period is set to open just six months later, in Q2 of 2026, and could close by the end of Q3 of the same year. Time will be of the essence, and early preparation will be the key to success. You will need ample time to review estimated fees, familiarize yourself with the Applicant Guidebook, select a Registry Service Provider (RSP), and prepare an application that fulfills all of ICANN’s requirements.

Apply for Your Own TLD with 101domain

The next implementation update from ICANN is expected to be released in early October before the upcoming ICANN meeting on October 21-26. We are here to offer expert guidance and support throughout the application process for your new TLD and will keep you updated with all future developments. Please reach out to your dedicated account executive or any member of our corporate team to begin strategic planning and pave the way for a successful intro into the New gTLD Program.

Give us a call today +1.888.982.7940

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