ICANN Transfer Policy Change


As of 1 Dec 2016 ICANN has enforced a new policy for changing or updating the Registrant information of gTLD domains (eg .com, .net, .org). While the purpose of the policy is to make domains more secure and reduce ownership disputes, in practise it can make simple Registrant updates into a cumbersome process.

To simplify the process and avoid Registrants receiving a flood of authorisations, our chosen registrar, Tucows, acts as a Designated Agent. Only your initial update requires authorisation but subsequent authorisations from the same Registrant details are automatically approved on your behalf, when submitted via your secure konsoleH control panel.

Our Hosting Terms and Conditions reflect Tucows as a Designated Agent, acting on your behalf for gTLD domain Registrant updates.

What is the Transfer Policy?

The Transfer Policy previously only covered domain transfers between registrars but now also covers the process of changing ownership of the domain from one entity to another (Registrant to Registrant). This typically happens under the following scenarios:

  1. When a domain is transferred to Hetzner (eg Transfer to Hetzner from ENOM).
  2. When Registrant details are updated through the Domain Update Tool in konsoleH.
  3. When Registrant details are updated through a successful Internal Transfer from one Hetzner customer to another.

Which domains are affected?

The ICANN policy applies to all gTLD domains. These Global Top Level Domains are all international, non-country specific domains eg .com, .net, .org, .info and .biz.

What is the effect?

  • Any changes to first name, last name, organization or email address fields for the owner of any gTLD domain name will now start a trade process.
  • The process involves obtaining explicit confirmation from current and new Registrants, via a series of confirmation and approval emails before a change can be completed. If either party declines the change, then the change of Registrant request is cancelled and the previous whois info remains the same.

What is Hetzner doing about it?

The Transfer Policy allows Registrants to delegate giving their consent for Registrant updates to a third-party, called a Designated Agent, on their behalf.  

To simplify the process and avoid Registrants receiving a flood of authorisations, our chosen registrar, Tucows (the legal entity which operates the OpenSRS registrar), will act as a Designated Agent,  acting on your behalf for gTLD domain Registrant updates.

Our Terms and Conditions have been updated accordingly (see Domain Registration #5.4) and communicated to customers on 30 November 2016.

What is a Designated Agent?

The Transfer Policy allows Registrants to delegate giving their consent to a Change of Registrant to a third-party on their behalf. The policy defines such third-party as a Designated Agent (DA):

1.2 “Designated Agent” means an individual or entity that the Prior Registrant or New Registrant explicitly authorizes to approve a Change of Registrant on its behalf.

In practical terms, this means that a Registrant can give authority to Tucows (the legal entity that operates the OpenSRS registrar) to confirm a Change of Registrant. When Tucows is enabled to act as a Designated Agent, the Registrant will not need to receive or confirm an email in order for a change to proceed. Instead, Tucows will always auto-approve any Change of Registrant.

What does it mean for Tucows to act as the Designated Agent?

Tucows, through Hetzner, keeps a database of unique datasets and once a unique dataset has been populated to our and Tucows’ database, all trade emails will be accepted by Tucows on behalf of the current and / or new Registrant. A dataset is a unique combination of a Registrant’s first name, last name, organisation and email address. Therefore, once we have a unique dataset, auto approval of Registrant changes will automatically apply to all existing and future domains that use that dataset.

How will this affect me?

  • As a Hetzner customer, you have already accepted Hetzner’s Terms and Conditions, thereby authorising Tucows to act as your Designated Agent. Domain updates are now accepted on your behalf, bypassing the cumbersome trade process.
  • Where the current or new Registrants are not listed in Tucows dataset, the trade process applies, with 7 day voting period. If the current or new Registrants have not responded, the change is aborted.
  • After a change of Registrant has been completed, the previous and new Registrant will receive a confirmation email informing them that the change has completed.
  • After a change of Registrant has been completed, the domain is by default locked for transfers to a new registrar for the following 60 days, unless the previous Registrant has chosen the opt-out option on the confirmation email.

How can I update the Domain Registrant Details?

You are able to easily update your domain Registrant details online in konsoleH, and any changes you make will automatically be updated by Tucows. You will receive a verification email if this is your first update.

Note to resellers and web developers: The end-user of a domain must always be listed as the domain Registrant. The reseller or web developer may be listed as the administrative contact. The Registrant needs to approve any change of ownership but the administrative contact approves any change of registrar e.g. in the case of a transfer.

What about Domain Transfers?

If you want to transfer and change the Registrant at the same time, you should transfer the domain first, and then change the Registrant. Failure to do so will result in your domain being locked for 60 days.

What happens if the current Registrant email is invalid or not accessible?

If a confirmation email sent to the New or Prior Registrant bounces, or it is no longer accessible, Hetzner will have the opportunity to resend the confirmation request

  • to the same email address (if the bounce was just temporary), or
  • via SMS to the phone number supplied for the Registrant.

Please contact admin@hetzner.co.za for assistance.

If the phone number is incorrect, the current Registrant details can be updated with a new, valid mobile phone number. Updating just a Registrant’s phone number is not considered a change of Registrant by the Transfer Policy, so this update can be processed without confirmation. Once the phone number is correct, the confirmation email will be resent to the new, updated phone number.

Does the Policy apply to all Registrars?

Yes, the ICANN Transfer Policy applies to all registrars, but it is important to note that registrars implement the policy in differing ways. Therefore transferring domains to or away from Hetzner, where a registrar other than Tucows is involved, may follow a different process.


For detailed information, refer to OpenSRS/Tucows