There is an exciting project afoot in the international domain name community: according to ICANN’s recently released implementation plan for the next round of new gTLDs, the application period is set to open in April 2026.
Between policy development, infrastructure building and more, there are a lot of moving parts and other dependencies that could change the target date. Nevertheless, the timeline recently carved into stone (or rather, published in PDF) is a beacon of light for those who have been dreaming of obtaining their own “right of the dot”. This is an opportunity that hasn’t come around since 2012, when the last round of gTLD applications occurred. This resulted in over 1,000 new gTLDs being introduced.
Who can apply for a new gTLD?
Anyone, really—from businesses, to entrepreneurs, to NGOs. The current domain landscape is comprised of TLDs that serve many purposes and follow a variety of business models. Some common types of TLD concepts are:
- TLDs representing geographic areas, like municipalities and communities, giving an opportunity for domains to identify with a more specific region than a ccTLD (e.g. .kiwi is designed specifically for New Zealanders.)
- TLDs serving a business need in a certain industry, often a valuable and common keyword (e.g. .eco for environmentally-focused domains.)
- TLDs held by corporations to bolster their brand and unique digital footprint, with no intent to sell domains to the general public (e.g. .mls for the Canadian Real Estate Association.)
This round, we can expect to see thousands of applicants with ambitious ideas. Note that, as in the first round, there will be an application fee, and the amount will be announced at a future date. For applicants that find the fee prohibitive, ICANN has funding available, with more details in their implementation plan.
Can someone without domain industry experience run a TLD?
While you might have a great idea for a new TLD, we understand all of the acronyms and technical specs can be a bit daunting to those who aren’t familiar with the domain industry. CIRA can help applicants in two ways:
New gTLD application consulting services
CIRA can help guide you through the TLD application process. We have years of experience running a world-class ccTLD, expertise in-house and actively participate in the international domain community. If you have questions regarding what it takes to run a domain registry, whether for a community, brand, service, or otherwise, we’re here to help.
Registry Service Providers: CIRA can run your back-end infrastructure
In addition to operating the .CA domain registry, we are also the “Registry Service Provider” (RSP) (also called the Back-End Registry Operator) for other TLDs. Over the last few years, we have been working with ccTLDs, including New Zealand (.nz) and Ireland (.ie), brands and gTLDs.
Some of the new gTLDs (or should we dub them “newer gTLDs” to distinguish between the 2012 cohort?) may choose to run the registry’s infrastructure on their own, while others will go with an external provider. Why reinvent the wheel? CIRA’s registry platform meets the needs of a modern TLD, we offer customization to meet the business needs of different registries and even offer a portal option that enables one person to run a registry on their own.
Seize the opportunity: now is the time to start preparing your new gTLD application
This application period is an opportunity that hasn’t come knocking for a while. And while the April 2026 target may seem far away, getting your ducks in a row now will put you in a better position for when the period opens.