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From Concept to Reality: A Roadmap to Acquire Your gTLD in 2026

In today’s rapidly evolving internet landscape, staying up-to-date with the latest developments and trends is crucial for businesses looking to strengthen their online presence. One highly anticipated development that organizations have eagerly awaited is the next round of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). These new gTLDs offer businesses with exciting opportunities to amplify their branding, boost visibility, and create deeper connections with their target audience in new and creative ways.

In this post, we will explore the new gTLD timeline from an organizational perspective. We’ll chart out a strategic roadmap aimed at preparing and acquiring a gTLD. Our aim is to ensure that every gTLD possesses a thorough grasp of its fundamental advantages and the strategies and the means to harness its potential value.

Understanding the New gTLDs

Before diving into the timeline, let’s briefly revisit what gTLDs are. Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) are the part of a web address that comes after the dot (e.g., .com, .org, .net). Historically, there were a limited number of gTLD options available, but that changed dramatically with the introduction of new gTLDs.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched the new gTLD Program in 2012, opening the door to a wide range of new domain extensions such as .shop, .law and .canon. These new gTLDs can be specific to interests, brands, or geographic locations, allowing businesses to choose domains that resonate with their brand and audience. The upcoming application window for new gTLDs is scheduled to open in 2026.

The New gTLD Timeline

To understand the new gTLD timeline from a business perspective, let’s break it down into key phases and considerations:

Q1 2024: Assemble Resources. Begin assembling the essential resources required for your gTLD. While this task may appear premature, it’s imperative, especially for multiple applications, large brands, challenging open TLDs, and community applications.

Q2 2024: Build your TLD Dream Team. Assemble your team and provide support to team members who may be new to the gTLD realm. With the team ready to make meaningful contributions, determine the unique value that your top-level domain(s) provide.
If you’re contemplating applying for Applicant Support, the release of the handbook in May will assist you in navigating the application process.

Q3 2024: Evaluate Benefits and Craft Your Roadmap. Assess the potential uses and associated value of the benefits your gTLD will deliver. Develop a strategic roadmap and detailed implementation plans along with your business case that outlines the rationale beyond your application. Developing robust plans is crucial in ensuring your organization can fully realize the benefits. Therefore, it is of utmost importance not to underestimate the time and effort required.

Q4 2024: ICANN Application Support Program. If you’re considering seeking application support, mark your calendars for October when the ICANN Application Support Program will open for submissions.

Q1 2025: Pro Bono Resource List published. The pro bono resource list will be made available to qualified supported applications.

Q2 2025: Registry Service Provider Procurement and Guidebook Completed. Start procurement activities related to Registry Service Providers (RSP) and initiate contracts with third-party resources that will play a crucial role in managing your gTLD. Monitor developments as ICANN is set to complete the Applicant Guidebook in May. Take the time to review this guidebook thoroughly for any changes and updates that may affect your TLD(s).

Q4 2025: RSP Pre-Evaluation List and Guidebook Review. The Registry Service Provider (RSP) pre-evaluation list will be published, confirm that your chosen RSP has received approval. Additionally, the final version of the Applicant Guidebook is set to be published in December. Conduct a thorough review to identify and assess any changes that may affect your application and business strategies. Kickstart the application drafting process. Initiate and conduct internal reviews and make any necessary revisions to ensure alignment with the latest guidelines and requirements.

Q1 2026: Application Completion and Preparation. Finalize your application(s). Thoroughly prepare for the submission of your application. Secure internal approvals and ensure your application fees are ready to be disbursed.

Q2 2026: Application Window Opens and Closes. Mark your calendars for the opening of the application window in April. Keep in mind that it will be open for a limited time, closing in June. Be prepared to submit your application(s) and fees within this timeframe to meet the deadlines.

More than a decade has passed since the last wave of new gTLDs, and during this time, the digital landscape has undergone significant transformations. It is crucial for organizations to ensure that acquiring gTLDs strategically aligns and brings substantial value to their business.

At TLDz, we’ve found that many organizations are unaware of how to ensure their TLD provides tangible value and benefits. Often, they seek assistance to ensure that their chosen TLD will deliver the expected value, along with a well-structured plan aimed at fully realizing the associated benefits.

To make the most of this opportunity, it’s crucial to use the available time wisely. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the gTLD timeline and the potential benefits these domain extensions offer, businesses can make informed decisions and strategically leverage their new gTLDs to their advantage.

By Christa Taylor, TLDz - Co founder

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