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Is the New .cpa Domain Right for Your Firm?

You may have recently received communication announcing the new .cpa domain being offered by The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and encouraging you to protect your name.

The AICPA has been given exclusive rights over the offering of the .cpa domain, by the Internet’s global governing body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which means the new domain will only be available via the AICPA. The AICPA has stated that only accounting firms will be eligible to buy the .cpa domain.  While this is exciting news, there are some things to consider when deciding if you are going to pursue a .cpa domain.

First of all, firms need to make a decision as to whether or not they are buying the .cpa domain as an 'insurance policy' (to protect your firm name) or will make the switch from their current domain extension (such as .com or .net). If you choose the 'insurance policy' route, it's important to note that there are laws in place which protect your name. In other words, if you have the firm name and abbreviations of your firm name protected (copyrighted or trademarked) then you have legal recourse should someone try to buy that domain. And, if they do buy it, all it takes is a letter and they are required by law to relinquish that domain.

There are two considerations regarding cost. The AICPA is charging 10x more per year for the .cpa domain as compared to other domain registrars. The .cpa domain is priced at $225 per year for a standard domain, and a whopping $690 per year for a 'premium' domain comprised of only 2 or 3 letters. In comparison, GoDaddy charges $12 a year for a regular domain with a small additional cost for private registration.

Then, if you make the decision to buy the .cpa domain and change your domain (e.g., from cpafirm.com to cpafirm.cpa), there are additional costs to consider. For example, ALL collateral (business cards, letterhead, folders, notepads, etc.), email, esignatures, social media channels, directory listings, organizational listings, and subscriptions, to name a few. We recommend starting by taking inventory of all places where your domain resides (print, online, digital, organizational, etc.).

When making a decision regarding the .cpa domain, it may not be as simple as it seems. I, for one, am surprised at the cost. I can see the up charge for the first year, but 10x the cost and the same cost for subsequent years seems outrageous. Plus, the thinly veiled threat of telling firms to act now to protect their name is unfounded – provided you have legally protected your firm's name.

And, we haven't even addressed the SEO issues of changing your domain. That's a whole different ballgame. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us and we would be happy to talk you through the decision! 

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