Michigan Chapter

.CPA Domains: Clarification Received Around Basic Activation Requirements

Published October 23, 2020 By Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP, PAFM
This past June, the AICPA was awarded the .cpa (dot CPA) top level (worldwide) domain which has been reserved exclusively for entities confirmed by the AICPA to be affiliated with the CPA profession.  This was done to promote long term confidence when visiting a website with the .cpa extension or receiving an email from a person with an email address ending in .cpa instead of .com.  The .cpa extension would be “restricted,” meaning that anyone utilizing .cpa would have been vetted and verified, which is NOT the case with .com extensions that are largely unrestricted. Today, there are over 352 million .com domains which are given out freely, increasingly allowing hackers to create “lookalike” websites and email addresses with slightly different .com names (SmithJonesCPAs.com vis SmithJonesCPAz.com).  Because .com names are unrestricted, these fake .com domains can be set up anonymously, further facilitating hacking and phishing efforts.

To move to the CPA restricted domain, the firm will transition from using their current .com address to a .cpa address, but this will help the firm in the long run by minimizing threats from fraudulent .com websites and will allow .cpa firms to be able to take advantage of future security protocols for top level domains, further building trust. Firms will also be protected against “cybersquatters” that reserve the most common .com names (and try to sell them at a premium) as the AICPA will vet and only authorize proven CPA entities. Firms that currently have CPA as part of their domain name will have a more relevant and possibly shorter address which may further increase the firm’s brand as the CPA extension will be featured.  For example SmithJonesCPAs would become SmithJones.cpa and their employee email addresses would be: yourname@smithjones.cpa. Firms can continue to hold their .com domain and forward emails/web queries to their new .cpa domain  as long as they keep their registration current.  According to CPA.com: “another benefit to trust and security is the brand benefits that firms will see with their .cpa domain transition. With an entry into the exclusive club of verified firms, firms (especially small firms) will have the competitive edge as they seek to serve new clients. Additionally, there are other marketing benefits of having a stronger online brand presence with .cpa domain which include being able to be found more easily online by your clients and prospects.”

The cost for a firm to reserve their .cpa domain is approximately $195. To find out more and register your firm during the early registration period, visit https://domains.cpa.com with .cpa domains being reserved beginning September 1, 2020 and awarded November 1, 2020!

In October 2020, the AICPA released some Basic Activation Requirements to help clarify confusion surround the .cpa domains:

- within one month of being issued your domain, redirect it to your current .com website
- within one year of being issued your domain, use it as an active firm branded website. You have multiple options:

  • Create a microsite
  • Create a web page(s) with your name, logo and content
  • Make it your primary website

- if you bought multiple domains, you only need to activate one of the domains purchased

- within one year of being issued your domain, link it to your firm's email (not obligated to change all emails, this could be an alias option)

Firms requiring additional time should simply contact CPA.com

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.

Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP, CGMA is Director of Firm Technology Strategy for Right Networks and partners exclusively with accounting firms on production automation, application optimization, and practice transformation. He has been named consistently listed as one of INSIDE Public Accounting’s Most Recommenced Consultants, Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People, and CPA Practice Advisor’s Top Thought Leader. He is also a PAFM and an Advisory Board Member to CPAFMA.