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News and media, public comment, list of accredited registrars.

This filtered list below provides the public contact information, IANA number, and the website link for current ICANN-accredited registrars. These companies have been accredited by ICANN to act as registrars in one or more generic top-level domains (gTLDs). For a list of current and past accredited registrars, please see the IANA list .

The 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) is the most current and only contract governing the registrar relationship with ICANN. The 2013 RAA provides enhanced protections for registrants and an increased level of accountability for registrars, including but not limited to added registrar posting requirements, added compliance enforcement tools, and increased accountability to third parties.

Descriptions and contact information for ICANN-Accredited Registrars are updated on a daily basis.

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ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)

Peter Loshin

What is ICANN?

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the private, non-government, nonprofit corporation with responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system ( DNS ) management and root server system management functions. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority ( IANA ) previously performed these services.

ICANN is pronounced EYE-can, as in "I can at least try to manage the internet."

What is ICANN's purpose and why is it important?

ICANN is a public-private partnership that is responsible for the following functions related to internet names and numbers:

These functions are important to maintaining the stability of the global internet and supporting uninterrupted global connectivity. ICANN must balance local, national, regional and international concerns while managing the DNS in a way that is acceptable to the majority of the world's internet users.

The 1998 memorandum of understanding ( MoU ) between ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce governs how ICANN would handle the functions it's responsible for as an independent and international organization.

The MoU spelled out the following guiding principles for ICANN:

ICANN's domain name system hierarchy of authority

ICANN registry fees

ICANN collects the following three types of fees from domain registrars:

These fees were established after ICANN was formed as an independent organization and government contracts for providing domain and IP address services expired.

ICANN background and organizational structure

The original members of the ICANN board were chosen by the late Jonathan Postel, who headed IANA. IANA derived its authority under a contract from the U.S. government, which financed the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network from which the internet grew.

The need to globalize the governing of the internet -- among other concerns -- led the U.S. government to recommend the creation of ICANN as a global, independent entity to manage the internet's systems and protocols. The U.S. government essentially turned over control of the internet to ICANN, although domain name registration that Network Solutions performed continued under U.S. government contract for a limited time.

ICANN's board of directors includes 16 voting directors and four non-voting liaisons. Board members are almost all nominated by different ICANN sections and committees; one of the non-voting liaison members is appointed by the Internet Engineering Task Force . The ICANN president and CEO are also on the board.

Criticism of ICANN

Since its beginning, ICANN has had to deal with controversy. Concerns have included areas such as what new generic top-level domains should be permitted and whether alternative root server systems should be allowed.

In its early years, when ICANN was funded through the U.S. Department of Commerce, critics questioned whether such an important function to global connectivity should be controlled by the U.S. government. As it has gained independence, though, critics have pointed to its global importance and argue that ICANN should be more transparent and accountable to the public it serves.

ICANN's accountability model

According to its bylaws, ICANN periodically reviews how well it uses mechanisms for public input, accountability and transparency. It must ensure its actions reflect the concerns of the internet community and are accountable to it.

The ICANN Accountability and Transparency Review is the means by which this accountability model is enforced through ongoing assessments, reporting and process improvements.

ICANN recognizes the following three types of accountability:

ICANN meets its transparency commitments by openly and routinely publishing all documents relating to its operations and activities. Information may be withheld from the public only when there is a clear reason for confidentiality. For example, ICANN does not publish personal information about employees or information related to confidential discussions with governments.

History of ICANN

Some milestones in the history of the ICANN and predecessor organizations include the following:

Find out how some are reimagining fulfillment of ICANN's functions in the future, for example by using nonfungible tokens to manage domain names .

Continue Reading About ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)

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Logo of ICANN - Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers


Internet corporation for assigned names and numbers.

Please note:

You are viewing archival ICANN material. Links and information may be outdated or incorrect. Visit ICANN's main website for current information.

The global Internet community working together to promote the stability and integrity of the Internet

What is ICANN?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. These services were originally performed under U.S. Government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities. ICANN now performs the IANA function.

As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.

What is the Domain Name System?

The Domain Name System (DNS) helps users find their way around the Internet. Every computer on the Internet has a unique address called its "IP address" (Internet Protocol address). Because IP addresses (which are strings of numbers) are hard to remember, the DNS allows a familiar string of letters (the "domain name") to be used instead. So rather than typing "," you can type "www.icann.org."

What is ICANN's Role?

ICANN is responsible for coordinating the management of the technical elements of the DNS to ensure universal resolvability so that all users of the Internet can find all valid addresses. It does this by overseeing the distribution of unique technical identifiers used in the Internet's operations, and delegation of Top-Level Domain names (such as .com, .info, etc.).

Other issues of concern to Internet users, such as the rules for financial transactions, Internet content control, unsolicited commercial email (spam), and data protection are outside the range of ICANN's mission of technical coordination.

Ensuring predictable results from any place on the Internet is called "universal resolvability." It is a critical design feature of the Domain Name System, one that makes the Internet the helpful, global resource that it is today. Without it, the same domain name might map to different Internet locations under different circumstances, which would only cause confusion.

How does ICANN work?

Within ICANN's structure, governments and international treaty organizations work in partnership with businesses, organizations, and skilled individuals involved in building and sustaining the global Internet. Innovation and continuing growth of the Internet bring forth new challenges for maintaining stability. Working collectively, ICANN's participants address those issues that directly concern ICANN's mission of technical coordination. Consistent with the principle of maximum self-regulation in the high-tech economy, ICANN is perhaps the foremost example of collaboration by the various constituents of the Internet community.

ICANN is governed by an internationally diverse Board of Directors overseeing the policy development process. ICANN's President directs an international staff, working from three continents, who ensure that ICANN meets its operational commitment to the Internet community.

Designed to respond to the demands of rapidly changing technologies and economies, the flexible, readily implemented policy development process originates in the three Supporting Organizations. Advisory Committees from individual user organizations, and technical communities work with the Supporting Organizations to create appropriate and effective policies. Over eighty governments closely advise the Board of Directors via the Governmental Advisory Committee.

ICANN's Board has included citizens of Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

ICANN's Accomplishments

Among ICANN's recent accomplishments:

ICANN established market competition for generic domain name (gTLD) registrations resulting in a lowering of domain name costs by 80% and saving consumers and businesses over US$1 billion annually in domain registration fees.

ICANN implemented a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which has been used to resolve more than 5000 disputes over the rights to domain names. The UDRP is designed to be efficient and cost effective.

Working in coordination with the appropriate technical communities and stakeholders, ICANN adopted guidelines for the deployment of Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), opening the way for registration of domains in hundreds of the world's languages.

ICANN's Ongoing Work

In 2005-6, four new additional sponsored TLDs (.cat, .jobs, .mobi, and .travel) were successfully launched. ICANN's GNSO is currently developing policy recommendations for introduction of additional gTLDs.

In response to community concerns over privacy and accessibility, ICANN is hosting several workshops regarding Whois, the public database of domain name registrations.

With the deployment of IPv6, the new IP address numbering protocol, global network interoperability continues to be a primary mission for ICANN.

ICANN Welcomes Participation

Participation in ICANN is open to all who have an interest in global Internet policy as it relates to ICANN's mission of technical coordination. ICANN provides many online forums which are accessible through ICANN's website, and the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees have active mailing lists for participants. Additionally, ICANN holds public meetings throughout the year.

For more information on the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees, please refer to their websites:

Address Supporting Organization (ASO) - < www.aso.icann.org >

Country Code Domain Name Supporting Organization (CCNSO) - < www.ccnso.icann.org >

Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) - < www.gnso.icann.org >

At-Large Advisory Committee - < atlarge.icann.org >

Governmental Advisory Committee - < www.gac.icann.org >

More information on ICANN can be found on ICANN's website: < http://www.icann.org >

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Home » Blog » Internet Governance

What Is ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers?

Let us introduce you to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Learn about ICANN structure and its responsibilities.

what is icann

ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is a nonprofit organization designed as the postal system of the Internet. It’s the governing body that manages the central repository of IP addresses , the Domain Name System (DNS) and root servers. ICANN also coordinates the total supply of IP addresses. 

The organization emerged in 1998 to assist the US government and maintain the core infrastructure of the World Wide Web. However, today, it works to standardize and run the entire naming system used on the web across the world.

ICANN’s mandate is to manage around four billion IPv4 addresses and 180 million domain names in 240 countries. In other words, the entire world. 

In this piece, we are not only aiming to answer the main question – what is ICANN? We also want to explain what the organization is responsible for, how it affects the Domain Name System, IP addresses and, ultimately, your website. We have a lot to cover, so let’s get to it.

What does ICANN really do?

ICANN initially manages the domain name system, root servers and the central repository of IP addresses. 

It focuses on managing identifiers, or the internet’s unique identifiers (names and addresses), that allow us to locate websites on the internet. Still, ICANN doesn’t control the content on those domains, so it cannot control people’s internet access, nor can it stop spam or malware. 

That said, ICANN organizes the domain name system and the allocation of addresses while keeping the internet secure and open.

Such a centralized authority is necessary as it enables us to locate websites and keep devices connected easily. To put it simply, ICANN coordinates the global internet.

This is, of course, the grand picture, but what does it mean for you and your website? Why do you need to understand what ICANN is? Well, ICANN plays an essential role in the existence of IP addresses, the DNS and domain names, three things essential when running a website.


The Domain Name System manages domain names – names we use to access websites. That’s why the DNS is crucial in helping us remember an address and making the internet accessible to everyone. 

Domain names are used instead of IP addresses for the simple reason that it would be difficult for individual internet users to remember strings of numbers that could contain up to 32 digits.

The DNS converts IP addresses into letters, which is how we get the names. Once the conversion is complete, you can quickly locate a website using its domain name. But behind the scenes, computers keep using IP addresses to communicate with each other. 

Domain Name System

The DNS also enables us to easily change domains and IP addresses, ensuring domains aren’t tied to a single device. It features a very flexible infrastructure, so that whenever a change occurs, the entire internet recognizes it in less than 48 hours.

So, what does ICANN do here? It manages domain name registrars – services that allow you to purchase a domain name. In other words, ICANN organizes the entire system and helps us easily find and access any website on the web.

ICANN and IP addresses

An IP address consists of simple strings of numbers used as an address on the web. Computers and other devices use IPs to:

IPs are, effectively, like regular addresses in the physical world. They are essential because, without them, we wouldn’t be able to find anything online . 

ICANN’s role here is crucial. The organization keeps and manages the entire repository of IP addresses. It covers the entire globe that’s divided into five geographical regions, known as the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs):

Each RIR is responsible for managing domain registrations and addresses for its region. ICANN uses IANA , or the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, to coordinate all IP addressing systems and autonomous system numbers . IANA functions as the system’s administrator that ensures every IP address is unique, but it doesn’t own the entire system.

Five Regional Internet Registries

ICANN and domain names

We pretty much covered what domain names are and how they allow us to locate particular websites more quickly than when using IP addresses. One more thing to note is that each domain name comprises two main elements:

SLD is the part that comes before the dot in a specific URL or web address. This is the actual name of the website internet users recognize. For example, the SLD of google.com is google .

TLD is the part that comes after the dot in a URL. Some of the most popular TLDs are .com , .net and .org . There are also country-sponsored TLDs used by national governments, like .gov , and unique country code TLDs like .us for the United States or .fr for France. A single registry handles domains for every particular TLD.

SLD (google) and TLD (.com) of a domain name

ICANN manages SLDs and TLDs, which is why most domain name services or domain registrars that facilitate the domain name registration process seek to join the ICANN accreditation system . This puts them on the list of verified domain name registries , which you can find on the official ICANN website. 

You should always choose a domain registrar from this list when registering a domain, as these registrars meet ICANN’s standards. 

How is ICANN related to root servers?

DNS is administered through a hierarchy of specific managed areas, also known as root zones. Root servers are the nameservers that operate in every root zone. They answer queries within the zone while also delegating requests to specific TLDs. 

There are 13 root servers, and they act as the base for all sites on the web. 

List of root servers.

These servers are rarely consulted because computers within a network don’t need to check if addresses have changed in a specific TLD constantly. However, root servers are still vital if we want the internet to continue operating as well as it does. 

The authority behind this DNS root server system is the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). It has the responsibility to delegate the management of each root zone to ICANN. In turn, ICANN operates one of the 13 servers and assigns control over the rest to various organizations.

How is ICANN structured?

ICANN works along with several supporting organizations, and each represents a specific section of the web. There are three supporting organizations:

ICANN also consists of four committee teams that advise the organization. These advisory committees represent:

The ICANN structure also includes the Technical Liaison Group that cooperates with organizations creating basic protocols for internet technologies. 

Despite this complicated structure, the Board of Directors makes the final decisions. The ICANN board has 21 members, but only 15 board members have voting rights, while the other six act as liaisons. An independent nominating committee chooses eight voting members, while the supporting organizations choose the other seven. 

ICANN also has a President and CEO who leads the numerous ICANN staff members located worldwide. The current president, Göran Marby, was appointed to the position in 2016.

The structure of ICANN

ICANN’s decision making

ICANN organizes the internet, which is why the decision-making process is quite complicated. 

Supporting organizations can suggest changes to any of the advisory committees. The committees have to discuss these changes or complaints and release a report to the public. If the changes affect another group within the ICANN hierarchy, they have the opportunity to voice their opinions, which are also public. 

Once everything is ready, the Board of Directors reviews a single report from these reviews and recommendations. The Board can then approve or deny some or all of the changes. 

If the Board denies a change, the report goes back to the supporting organizations to make further changes. This can result in a little bit of back and forth until everyone agrees and the organization can make the changes. 

ICANN’s accountability

Since ICANN’s work is so important, the organization must be accountable both internally and externally. 

Internally, ICANN has to answer to its own bylaws, an independent review panel, dispute resolution procedures, an ombudsman, the global board, an independent nominating advisory committee, senior staff members and a board reconsideration committee. 

Externally, ICANN has to abide by the law of the State of California and, consequently, the judicial system of the United States. The organization also has to respect corporate law since it operates as a nonprofit. 

ICANN, registries and registrars

ICANN cannot possibly supervise the constant registration and re-registration of domain names throughout the world. That’s why it accredits specific domain name registrars. These independent organizations and companies allow you to purchase and register a particular domain name. 

If you register a name with one of these accredited registrars, that name will automatically enter the domain name registry or the database of top-level domain names. This information then reaches the centralized registry database.

Another vital part of this system is the Network Information Center (NIC), also known as the registry operator. There are many operators, and each one is responsible for converting domain names into IP addresses for their specific TLDs. 

ICANN maintains and keeps the internet operating in the way we are all accustomed to. And, as you now know, its role is pivotal for the smooth operation of your own website and every other website online. 

Without ICANN’s contribution, the internet as a whole would be entirely different. If it stopped coordinating the supply of IP addresses or managing the domain name system and root servers today, the world as we know it would fall into chaos.

About the author

Author Edvinas

Edvinas Račkauskas

Business Analyst

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