New: ICANN Domain Trade Policy

On December 1, 2016 a new policy will be put into effect by ICANN (the organization that governs the domain name system). This policy states that updating the name, organization or email address in the owner contact for a generic top-level domain (gTLD) constituted a “trade” of that domain from one person/organization to another.

ICANN considers any change of the owner contact name, organization or email address to be a trade, or transfer of the ownership of the domain between the two parties. That means that it is a “trade” even if the change doesn’t actually cause the domain to change hands.

There’s no charge for a trade of a generic top-level domain and no time is added to your registration. It’s NOT a domain transfer.


What makes a registrant trade a trade

A “non-trade” trade: if you update the spelling of your first name (i.e. change it from Kate to Kathryn) or change the owner contact email from one email address you use to another (i.e. from to, ICANN sees that as a trade between two people even though both are the same person.

A “real” trade: if you actually change ownership of the domain via a contact change, the trade rule obviously also applies. Changing the owner contact name from Larry Smith to Sarah Jones or the email contact from to is clearly a trade of the domain between two parties.

Updates to your phone number or address will not trigger a trade. 


What happens?

When you make a change to the name, organization or email field in the owner contact of your domain in your Hover account, you will see an advisory that the change being made is considered to be a trade.

ICANN requires that the domain name is locked to prevent a domain transfer to another registrar for a period of 60 days after the trade is made.

However, the policy allows for the registrant who is making the change to opt-out of applying that lock if they wish. You’ll see a checkbox that allows you to choose whether to lock the domain for 60 days or not.

If you don’t intend to transfer the domain to a different registrar, you can leave this unchecked. If you do intend to change registrars then you’ll want to check this box. It is possible to remove that lock within the 60-day period, but you will make another change to the owner name, organization or email and select the opt-out option. It’s far better to leave the lock off if you have any intention of transferring in the 60-day period.


Once the contact update is submitted, both the old and new email addresses will receive emails informing them that the trade has taken place. Note that in cases where the email address isn’t updated, you’ll likely receive two emails saying the same thing as you are both the old and new owner of the domain.


ICANN Verification Remains

Note also that verification of your contact information is still required by ICANN so you may receive another email sent to the new owner’s email address to verify that the information provided is accurate and that the new owner is able to receive email at the new email address given.

You do need to act on this verification email. Visit the link in the email to prove you can receive email at the new address.

We’ll let you know in the dashboard if you have any domains that require verification. If you update the owner contact to match that of another domain you own that is already verified, you won’t need to do it again.

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