There is no such thing as an "ICANN Accredited" Reseller

By , June 2, 2010

While looking into a web hosting company the other day I noticed they also had a “domain reseller” business and was surprised to see a pretty official looking ICANN logo that had the words “ICANN Accredited Reseller”.

there is no such thing as an ICANN accredited reseller The company had since become directly accredited via ICANN, but the website icon seemed to exist prior to that, simply because ICANN does not provide any kind of “reseller” logos. This one must have been photoshopped to change the word “Registrar” to “Reseller”.

If you search on google for “ICANN Accredited Reseller” you find a few outfits using exactly that phrase on their domain offer pages.

Make no mistake, there is no such thing as an “ICANN Accredited” reseller. There are ICANN Accredited Registrars, and some Registrars operate almost exclusively via resellers (Tucows comes to mind). But resellers that represent themselves as accredited by ICANN are misleading you.

Prior to the 2009 revamp of the ICANN Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), ICANN identified the fact that they have no relationship with resellers:

Contractual relationships with resellers

Incorporate terms in the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) that augments the responsibilities placed on registrars with regard to their relationships with resellers.

ICANN’s primary relationship with entities that sell gTLD registrations is governed by the RAA. While many registrars act as retail outlets for domain name registrations, some function exclusively as “wholesale” outlets that market domain name registrations through reseller entities. Other registrars function using a combination retail/wholesale model. Problems encountered by registrants when dealing with a reseller can be aggravated by the fact that the business relationship is not direct. At times the customer has no idea that there is a registrar responsible for its registration. ICANN has no direct contractual relationship with resellers. (emphasis added)

Once the 2009 RAA came out, ICANN put the responsibility to keep resellers in compliance with ICANN policies squarely on the Registrars who use them: Reseller arrangements

The 2009 RAA also imposes new obligations on Registrars working with Resellers – persons or entities that the Registrar contracts with to bring in customers and in some cases to provide some registrar services. The 2009 RAA requires Registrars to include specific items in the Registrar/Reseller Agreements, including: prohibiting the Reseller from making representations that it is accredited by ICANN; requiring that all Reseller registration agreements include all provisions that the Registrar is required to include in its Registrar/Registered Name Holder Agreement; requiring the posting of all links to all ICANN websites that the Registrar is obligated to post; and identification of the sponsoring Registrar. The Reseller is also required to make sure that that if a customer is using a Reseller’s privacy or proxy registration service for a domain name registration, the Reseller does one of the following three things: (1) deposit the identity and contact information of the customer with the Registrar; (2) deposit the identity and contact information in escrow; or (3) post a notice to the customer that their contact information is not being escrowed. (emphasis added)

The RAA also requires the Registrar to take compliance and enforcement action against a Reseller violating any of the required provisions.

So there you have it. If you ever find yourself about to register or transfer a domain name via any party espousing to be an “ICANN Accredited” Reseller, ask for clarification. Some places simply use the word “Reseller” instead of “Registrar” quite innocently. They really may be ICANN Accredited and if they are, then they will be listed in this list of ICANN Accredited Registrars posted on the ICANN website.

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