Can registries reclassify your domain to premium before renewal? – Domain name thread

A reader asks about registries moving domains to premium rates.

Domain Name Wire reader Collin Love recently contacted me with a question about premium domains in new top-level domains.

Premium domains are those priced higher by the registry. Most premium domains come with higher initial registration fees and higher renewals.

Collin was lucky enough to register a lot of great .xyz domain names (e.g. advertising.xyz, encryption.xyz, hub.xyz) before the registry implemented premium pricing on top names. He wrote:

I was lucky enough to avoid this “premium” mess like all my .X Y Z domains have the registry’s default price (which, based on bills from my registrar, currently appears to be $8.56 per year). However, a potential buyer recently asked me if the .X Y Z registry could ever change the price of a .X Y Z default registry domain to somewhere in the “premium” price range.

The buyer’s concern is if they acquire the domain from Collin and the registry later reclassifies the domain as a premium domain with higher renewal prices.

The answer to this question can be found in Section 2.1.c of the Registry Agreement. Here is the relevant section:

(c) In addition, Registry Operator shall apply uniform pricing for renewals of domain name registrations (“Renewal Pricing”). For purposes of determining the renewal price, the price of each domain registration renewal shall be identical to the price of all other domain name registration renewals in effect at the time of such renewal, and such price shall take account of the universal application of any refunds, rebates, rebates, linked products or other programs in place at the time of renewal. The foregoing requirements of this Section 2.10(c) do not apply (i) for purposes of determining the renewal price if Registrar has provided Registry Operator with documentation demonstrating that the Name Holder domain name concerned has expressly agreed in its registration agreement with the registrar to a higher renewal price at the time of the initial registration of the domain name after the clear and conspicuous disclosure of this renewal price to such Registrant, and (ii) a reduced renewal price pursuant to a Qualified Marketing Program (as defined below). The parties acknowledge that the purpose of this Section 2.10(c) is to prohibit abusive and/or discriminatory renewal pricing practices imposed by Registry Operator without the written consent of the applicable Registrant at the time of initial domain registration and this Section 2.10(c) shall be interpreted broadly to prohibit such practices.

This section indicates that the renewal price should be the same for all domains. There is an exception that allows registries to charge a higher renewal price for premium domains:

The foregoing requirements of this Section 2.10(c) do not apply (i) for purposes of determining the renewal price if Registrar has provided Registry Operator with documentation demonstrating that the Name Holder domain name concerned has expressly agreed in its registration agreement with the registrar to a higher renewal price at the time of the initial registration of the domain name after the clear and conspicuous disclosure of this renewal price to this domain name holder…

Domains can have annual premium renewals as long as the holder is notified of the premium renewal in advance. Registries that offer bonuses with this model require registrars to tell registrants when they register the domain.

The last sentence of the quoted text emphasizes what concerns the reader. ICANN clearly explains why the Registry Agreement includes a restriction on charging a higher domain renewal than other domains if it is not marked premium when registered:

The parties acknowledge that the purpose of this Section 2.10(c) is to prohibit abusive and/or discriminatory practices in the pricing of renewals imposed by Registry Operator without the written consent of the applicable Domain Name Registrant at the time of initial domain registration and this Section 2.10(c) shall be construed broadly to prohibit such practices. (added emphasis)

ICANN doesn’t want a registry to be able to say, “Damn, someone put a lot of money into building a site on this domain, so let’s charge a lot to renew it because it won’t have no choice but to pay. »

So the answer to Collin’s question is Nopea registry cannot decide that the domain you registered at standard prices should be moved to a premium level when you renew it.

Registers box change the base price for renewals, however. Some registries have raised prices, but in every case I know of, the registry has grandfathered existing recordings.

Additionally, if a domain name expires and drops, the registry may apply a bounty to the next registrant. Two examples of registries applying bounties to deleted domains include .co and .xyz.