FAQs

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

General

A standard .cpa domain costs $225 per year. Premium domains i.e., two or three characters in length, city name, industry vertical, etc., are available and priced accordingly.

It's not an equivalent comparison to compare .cpa and .com domains.

.com is an unmanaged, uncontrolled generic internet domain. Users are not verified and there is no implementation of security best practices. Essentially, .com is a very low-level domain with corresponding commodity pricing.

.cpa is a high-value restricted internet domain with verifications and controls. It is only available to licensed CPA firms and licensed individual CPAs, and a fair amount of infrastructure (and consequently, expense) is required to validate professionals and provide ongoing monitoring services to ensure .cpa is limited to this restricted community. There is great benefit in doing so however, as it also means it is more secure and less prone to many of the online threats targeting .com domains.

A more equivalent comparison for .cpa are institutional domains like .bank and .pharmacy which are priced starting at more than $900 per domain per year.

CPA.com use a service from Neustar that proactively monitors for known threats, such as malware, botnets, etc. Neustar is required to notify CPA.com of any detections. CPA.com would in-turn notify your firm. We do NOT have access to any of your specific internet traffic or data, Neustar is performing this monitoring service via their proprietary system that includes nodes in data centers around the world. This means that you are still responsible for ensuring the security of your infrastructure, as normal. Neustar’s monitoring is a free added benefit that helps provide additional security protection. This monitoring is not required in legacy TLD’s like .com, .net., etc.

Because restricted domains restrict access to non-verified parties. .cpa is restricted to licensed CPA Firms. This allows us to prevent fraudsters from buying .cpa domains and imitating a CPA firm online to trick you or your clients (known as ‘imitator domains’). Domains, like .com, are unrestricted and available to anyone for purchase.

Every time you visit your favorite website or send an email you are using a top-level domain (TLD). TLD’s are the portion of the website address that come after the dot. For example, .com is the most widely known TLD. There are however many other TLD’s. Some are restricted to specific groups or communities, such as .edu for educational institutions or .mil for the military. Others, like .com are unrestricted wherein anyone can register and use a name. For example, the most common top-level domains include .com, .net, .edu and .gov. ICANN, the governing body that manages domain usage, supported the issuance of new domains several years ago — a move which will ultimately reshape the internet landscape.

Industries, governments and well-known businesses are beginning to change their domains. In fact, even Major League Baseball (.mlb), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (.mit) and New York CIty (.nyc) have gotten on board. And now, only for individual CPAs and licensed CPA firms, the .cpa domain is available and administered by the AICPA and CPA.com.

Moving your firm to a new .cpa domain does not need to be confusing for your clients. Clients are most familiar with your domain by visiting your website and sending you email. We will be providing tools and services to make this process simple and inexpensive.

There are clear marketing and branding benefits to this update, starting with the fact that only licensed, recognized CPA firms can secure the .cpa domain for their businesses. Short, verified domain names are not only catchier and more memorable, but they signal to visitors that your business is legitimate and progressive. These days, all the most desirable .com domain names are taken, leading many firms to settle for longer, less elegant domain names.

Some have turned to .net names or added CPA or LLC to the domain name. For clients and prospects, these are small but important signifiers that shape their perceptions of your brand. Since a .cpa domain is restricted to the CPA community, brand-friendly domain names that are shorter and more desirable will be available to firms that move quickly to secure them.

You may not have noticed yet, but other professions and industries are already shifting to their own unique domains. Banks, for example, are already beginning to adopt the .bank domain. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has introduced the .pharmacy top-level domain to provide the public with a path to ensure the pharmaceuticals they buy online are from trusted pharmacies that adhere to licensing and professional requirements. Many companies have already purchased new domains but have not yet publicized this update.

CPA firm licensure is managed by state boards of accountancy. Please check with your respective state board of accountancy if you are unsure whether your firm is a licensed CPA firm.

.cpa domain names are currently only available for early registration. Firms that register to secure a .cpa domain now are securing their place in line, so to speak, with rollout scheduled for later this year. There has been widespread interest from larger firms that have already begun laying the groundwork for this change, and we expect firms of all sizes to follow suit.

You can choose to wait until General Availability or later, like many did when .com first became available. If you want to secure the domain you always wanted, then it is best to do it in the earliest phase possible. Requests for domains can be submitted as early as September 1st, 2020 when committing to basic activation requirements or for firms who have trademarks.

Yes, eligibility will be validated at time of purchase and each renewal. We will also have additional measures in place to monitor and validate ongoing adherence to the eligibility requirements.

Yes, We discourage the practice of cyber-squatting or purchasing domains with the sole intent of resale. However, if two registrants decide to transfer ownership of a domain, we will support the transaction as long as both entities meet eligibility criteria and can be verified.

Trust will be created over time as .cpa becomes more widely used. At the same time, it’s a natural inclination for clients to make the connection that only CPA firms will have access to .cpa domains. This is similar to how we instinctively trust .gov domains (only permitted to be used by the government entities). The registry operator for .gov restricts access and verifies eligibility before issuing these domains, similar to .cpa.

Simply using a .cpa domain does not remove the threat of phishing or other attacks. However, with a .cpa domain we are able to take away the more popular attack vectors used by cyber criminals (i.e., imitator domains and IDNs or Internationalized Domain Names). We do this by restricting access and preventing them from using .cpa domains altogether. This will reduce the threat of an online attack. This is why we refer to this as a shared security responsibility, very similar to how Amazon secures their AWS cloud infrastructure. CPA.com, and its vendors, are securing the TLD, its registrars, and preventing fraudsters from using it. Customers are still responsible for the security of their infrastructure and wherever the domain is used.

Application Process

To apply for a .cpa domain, you must either be: (i) a licensed CPA firm with a CPA firm license issued by a state board of accountancy and/or (ii) when .cpa is opened up to individuals (in January), an individual with a CPA license.

In most jurisdictions, a firm must have a CPA firm license to hold out to the public as a CPA firm, and an individual must be a licensed CPA to hold out to the public as a CPA. Our
eligibility criteria were established to address these “holding out” rules.

If you are unsure as to whether you are a licensed CPA firm or have questions related to becoming a licensed CPA firm, please refer to your respective state board of accountancy.

The .cpa domain application process has been established based on other domain issuance best practices. The process has been designed to ensure domains are issued in accordance with a systematic logic-based criterion that has been reviewed by an independent third-party:

Timeframe
Eligibility
Objective
Application Process

Phase 1
(Sep 1, 2020 - Oct 31, 2020)
  • All licensed CPA firms are eligible.
  • Allow firms to acquire a .cpa domain most consistent with their current digital branding.

  • Domains issued at end of 60-day application period.
  • Basic activation requirements apply.
  • Multiple domain applications can be submitted.

Phase 2
(Nov 5, 2020 - Jan 14, 2021)
  • All licensed CPA firms are eligible.
  • Allow firms to acquire other preferred domains.

  • Domains issued on a first-come first-served basis.
  • Basic activation requirements apply.
  • Multiple domain applications can be submitted.

Phase 3
(Jan 15, 2021 onwards)
  • All licensed CPA firms and individual licensed CPAs are eligible.
  • Allow firms to acquire other preferred domains.
  • Domains issued on a first-come first-served basis.
  • No activation requirements for purchased domains.
  • Multiple domain applications can be submitted.

 

Certain geographic and industry terms have been reserved and will not be issued to firms. However, firms are encouraged to apply for geographic and industry terms in their domain applications. The early application phase (prior to Oct 31, 2020) allows firms to acquire a .cpa domains most consistent with their current digital branding. Domains containing geographic and industry terms issued in this early phase will be limited to firms that have existing digital brands around geographic and industry terms. There is no such restriction after the early application period.

No. Unlicensed firms are not eligible to apply for a .cpa domain because of state law restrictions relating to “holding out” as a CPA firm.

Currently, .cpa domains are available only to US-based licensed CPA firms. In the US, we have an established pathway for verifying eligibility. We are in the process of establishing similar capabilities with jurisdictions around the world and hope to make .cpa available in certain international markets in 2021.

Prior to the General Availability phase, only firms with state-issued CPA firm licenses are eligible for .cpa domains. This is a nationwide uniform rule intended to accommodate state restrictions on unlicensed businesses “holding out” as CPA firms. Individually licensed CPAs can apply on or after January 15th, 2021 for (i) personal use .cpa domains or (ii) domains to be used in connection with a firm where permitted by state law.

Once you submit your application you will receive several emails including:

  1. Order Confirmation (from CPA.com);
  2. Credit Card Receipt (from payment processor Stripe);
  3. Email address verification (from our registrar, Encirca).

It is very important that you click the link in the Email Verification email to show that you control the email address you provided us. Also, immediately upon submission our support team will start verifying your eligibility and identity. This process can take some time depending on the availability of verifiable data.

At the end of the launch phase (10/31) we will notify all applicants. This notification will be sent via email to the address you supplied on your application form and will include instructions for completing the setup of your domain.

Yes. If, for any reason, your domain is not issued to you, you will receive a full refund.

You can purchase as many domains as you like, there is no limit.

You will receive an email notification regarding the status of your domain no later than November 5, 2020.

Domains must not be misleading, deceptive, or which may otherwise violate applicable laws or the Code of Conduct. Please check your state board to ensure compliance with any local advertising rules.

Yes, that is correct. .cpa domains are set up as private registrations.

Yes, you can apply multiple times within this period.

Set-Up

Firms purchasing a .cpa domain prior to the General Availability phase (which begins January 15, 2021) are being asked to comply with basic activation requirements. This policy has been put in place to discourage the 'parking' of domains by firms (i.e., purchasing domains just to prevent other firms from acquiring them). To comply with basic activation requirements firms simply need to do the following:

  1. Activate your .cpa domain:
    • Within one month of being issued your .cpa domain, redirect it to your current .com website. This requirement doesn't apply if you have no website.
    • Within one year of being issued your .cpa domain, use it as an active firm branded website. You do not need to make it your primary website (you can, but it is not required). You can set it up as a microsite or landing page (with your firm logo and name prominently displayed). If you purchased multiple domains, you only need to activate one (the others may simply redirect).
    • If your .cpa domain is replacing an existing .com website, we recommend you redirect the .com domain to your new .cpa website and maintain this for an ongoing period of time.
  2. Link your .cpa domain to your email platform:
    • Within one year of being issued your .cpa domain, add it to your firm's email platform.
    • After linking your .cpa domain to you firm's email platform, we recommend you continue to keep your prior email address active, indefinitely.

If your firm needs additional time to meet any of these activation requirements or has questions regarding the process, we encourage you to contact a CPA.com representative to discuss. Our intent is to work with firms to help make this transition as seamless and successful as possible.

Note: Activation requirements do not apply: (1) for domains generally associated with trademarks your firm has registered and (2) for any domains purchased during the General Availability phase.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important consideration for firms who have invested heavily in SEO (primarily the largest firms). However, search providers are keenly aware that many companies may have a business need (rebrand, merger, new TLDs, etc.) to switch their domain over time. Google has published the following guidance on how to optimally migrate web properties: support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9370220?hl=en.

We believe the inherent benefits of .cpa (restricted, more secure, trend to new TLDs) makes the migration to a .cpa domain an effective long-term strategy for the profession. The Internet is evolving, and SEO will evolve with it. We are working with SEO experts to help provide additional education and clarification as the profession moves to .cpa.

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Watch our LinkedIn Live video that discusses how .cpa domains impact your firm’s SEO

No. You only need to use the .cpa registrar partner, Encirca, for basic domain management (i.e. buying/renewing a domain and setting domain properties). Encirca does offer website hosting, DNS, email service, and most other add-on services for your convenience, however, you are free to work with the provider of your choice for these services.

Yes, all applicants need to click the link in the email from Encirca to verify that the email address(es) provided on the application form are under their control. There were two places for an email address to be provided on the form, the Account Owner section and CPA Eligibility section. If you used the same email address in both sections you will only receive one email, and you must click the link. If you used a different email address for each section, you will then receive the same email at both addresses. You need to click the link in both emails. This is part of our verification process to ensure that only licensed CPA firms or individual CPA’s obtain access to a .cpa domain.

This is not a resource-intensive upgrade. It won’t require building a new website, for example. Think of it as an administrative change. If you have an internal technology team or external vendor, it’s a straightforward change. If you run a small firm and handle the site yourself, you should be able to make this update on your own following our clear instructions.

While it tends to take a couple of weeks for some firms, depending on the size and technical specifications of their current sites, some have made the update in a matter of hours. If you need support, we’ll be available to help.

After you are issued your .cpa domain, we recommend firms immediately redirect the .cpa domain to their existing .com site. Doing so is straightforward and we have outlined the process in our position paper.

If you have acquired your .cpa domain during one of the initial two phases of rollout (in 2020), you will need to activate your .cpa domain within twelve (12) months of it being issued (firms needing more time should simply contact a CPA.com representative).

When you do switch over to your new .cpa domain, we recommend firms follow best practices and redirect the existing .com web domain to your primary .cpa website. Search providers understand that companies change domains. Google has published the following guidance on how to optimally migrate web properties: support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9370220?hl=en.

Once your domains are issued, you will receive an email regarding your login set up for your account within Encirca, our current domain registrar. You will have full controls to manage your domain within that account.

No. Our current registrar (Encirca) is integrated with our eligibility platform. Because .cpa is a restricted domain, there are eligibility requirements connected to each domain for verification and monitoring. However, you can still use domain-related services from other registrars or service providers (for DNS, Email etc.). Alternatively, some registrars work through Encirca as resellers to enable management of your .cpa domain outside of the Encirca registrar site. However, you should first check with your registrar.

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