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.
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 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.
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.
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 as your primary website 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 retire the existing .com 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.
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.
Watch our LinkedIn Live video that discusses how .cpa domains impact your firm’s SEO
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:
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.
Yes. If, for any reason, your domain is not issued to you, you will have 5 business days to request 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.
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: