TL;DR: If you own a .eth domain, you will need to visit manager.ens.domains between May 4, 2019 and May 4, 2020 to migrate your domain to the new registrar.
When we launched ENS two years ago, it had only one top-level domain (TLD), .eth. We launched .eth with a registrar — the smart contract responsible for handling name registrations — based on a vickrey auction. Registering a .eth name under this interim registrar is a multi-step process, requiring bid and reveal transactions that have to be submitted during a fixed period.
The intention from day 1 was always that the interim registrar was a first step, intended to get things running, and to gain experience with ENS and the registration system that we could use to design a better ‘permanent’ registrar. We set a target date of two years from launch for releasing the permanent registrar.
May 4, 2019 is that date, and we’ve learned a lot in the intervening time. We’re pleased to say that we have built the permanent registrar, and we’re planning to deploy it to ENS on the second anniversary of the launch.
Doing this means that current .eth domain owners will need to migrate to the new registrar.
What We’ve Learned
The interim registrar worked well for handling initial registrations in the ‘land rush’ phase, with many people wanting to register the same name. Now that this phase is over, though, most auctions are resolved with only a single bidder, meaning we’re asking people to jump through a lot of hoops to register a name which usually aren’t necessary. Given that, the permanent registrar should simplify and accelerate the registration process as much as possible.
Also, imposing a cost on name registrations is necessary to limit ‘land grabs,’ where thousands of domains are registered for resale. The interim registrar achieved this with a deposit based scheme: funds bid on the name are locked up in a deposit contract, and refunded when the name is released. But experience has shown us that this is less effective than we had hoped.
Registrants seeking to resell the domain only have their funds locked up until they find a buyer, or until they release the domain, while registrants intending to put the domain to use must consider the funds locked up indefinitely. Any permanent registrar needs to change this balance, ensuring that speculative registration is at least as expensive as it is for legitimate users.
One major development in the Ethereum ecosystem in the last two years is “meta-transactions” — the ability to separate the entity authorising a transaction from the entity paying for it. Limitations on the ability to do this in the interim registrar have reduced opportunities to provide simple UIs for registrants. Meta-transactions allow for simpler user-experiences, and by designing the new registrar with this in mind, we can make those UI experiences available for users of the ENS registrar as well.
How the Permanent Registrar Works
For the permanent registrar, we have focused on simplification, both in design and operation. We want registration, renewal, and transfer of names under the new registrar to be as simple and straightforward as possible, both for users and for code.
With that in mind, here are the key attributes of the permanent registrar:
Simple registration: Registering a name is nearly instant. Users submit two transactions, first committing to registering the name, then actually registering the name. In order to prevent front-running, these two transactions must be mined at least 1 minute apart. Our Dapp, at manager.ens.domains, will guide you through this process.
Yearly rent: Owning a 7+ character .eth domain will cost $5 USD per year, paid in ether. Anyone can renew a domain at any time, and for any duration. This means you can guarantee ownership of your name for as long as you wish.
It also ensures that anyone can ensure the continued existence of a ‘common good’ name, even if abandoned by its original registrant — for example, if you own ‘my.name.eth’ you can renew ‘name.eth’ yourself if the owner fails to. Subdomains, and non-.eth domains registered via our DNSSEC integration remain free.
Easy transfers: Under the permanent registrar, .eth names are non-fungible tokens (NFTs), meaning they can be managed and transferred using standard NFT tools.
7+ characters: Just like the interim registrar, the permanent registrar will initially only support names that are 7 characters or longer. We’ll be relaxing this requirement later, after running an allocation process for shorter names.
What You Need to Do
If you own a .eth name
Visit manager.ens.domains between May 4, 2019 and May 4, 2020. Enter your name, and choose to either ‘Migrate’ your name or ‘Release’ it.
If you migrate your name, the deposit you paid to register it under the interim registrar will be returned to you in full, and your name’s expiry date will be set to May 4, 2020 — the first year of registration is free. At any time after migrating your name, you can extend your expiry date by paying $5 in ether per year’s registration.
If you release your name, the deposit you paid to register it under the interim registrar will also be returned to you, but the name will be released, available for registration by other users.
If you don’t migrate or release your name by May 4, 2020, your name is returned to the available name pool. If this happens, you can still recover your deposited funds, however there’s no guarantee the name will still be available for you to register.
If you own a subdomain (eg, myname.etherbase.eth)
Check that the owner of the parent domain (e.g., etherbase.eth) has committed to safely migrating the name. Don’t use your name after May 4, 2019, until you can verify this! Look out for instructions on how to check this soon.
If you develop software that resolves ENS names
You don’t need to do anything! The process for resolving ENS names is not changing.
If you develop software that registers ENS names
Read our docs on the .eth permanent registrar, and implement support for the new registrar. Disable support for the old auction registrar on or before May 4 2019, when it becomes inoperable.
Next Steps for ENS
After the launch of the new registrar, we’re intending to start opening up registrations of names shorter than 7 characters.
This will start with a preregistration process, during which owners of existing DNS domains can claim the corresponding ENS name for their project. After that, we’ll run an auction process in which anyone can bid on the newly available names, and then finally open the rest up for instant registration. Read more about our plans here.