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I moved a domain name over Cloudflare's registrar recently, and when inquiring whether I could change the nameservers to point to a third-party host, I was pointed towards a specific part of their Domain Registration Agreement:

6.1 Nameservers. Registrant agrees to use Cloudflare’s nameservers. REGISTRANT ACKNOWLEDGES AND AGREES THAT IT MAY NOT CHANGE THE NAMESERVERS ON THE REGISTRAR SERVICES, AND THAT IT MUST TRANSFER TO A THIRD PARTY REGISTRAR IF IT WISHES TO CHANGE NAMESERVERS.

A quick check tells me that Cloudflare is on ICANN's accredited registrar list and therefore subject to the following provisions of their Registrar Accreditation Agreement:

3.2.1 As part of its registration of Registered Names in a gTLD, Registrar shall submit to, or shall place in the Registry Database operated by, the Registry Operator for the gTLD the following data elements:

3.2.1.1 The name of the Registered Name being registered;

3.2.1.2 The IP addresses of the primary nameserver and secondary nameserver(s) for the Registered Name;

3.2.1.3 The corresponding names of those nameservers;

3.2.1.4 Unless automatically generated by the registry system, the identity of the Registrar;

3.2.1.5 Unless automatically generated by the registry system, the expiration date of the registration; and

3.2.1.6 Any other data the Registry Operator requires be submitted to it.

The agreement between the Registry Operator of a gTLD and Registrar may, if approved by ICANN in writing, state alternative required data elements applicable to that gTLD, in which event, the alternative required data elements shall replace and supersede Subsections 3.2.1.1 through 3.2.1.6 stated above for all purposes under this Agreement but only with respect to that particular gTLD. When seeking approval for alternative required data elements, the data elements set forth in Subsections 3.2.1.1 through 3.2.1.6 should be considered suggested minimum requirements.

3.2.2 Within seven (7) days after receiving any updates from the Registered Name Holder to the data elements listed in Subsections 3.2.1.2, 3.1.2.3, and 3.2.1.6 for any Registered Name that Registrar sponsors, Registrar shall submit the updated data elements to, or shall place those elements in the Registry Database operated by, the relevant Registry Operator.

Cloudflare is clearly overriding section 3.2.2 of the latter, by making their users agree to 6.1 of the former. Can it do that?

EDIT: This question originally quoted an older version of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement. Cloudflare is a party to the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement.

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    Maybe I'm just being dense here, but I'm a little confused regarding what you actually want to do. Are you wanting to point your domain to a different host (but still have your domain name services handled by Cloudflare's nameserver(s), or are you wanting your domain's name services to be handled by a third-party nameserver (with or without changing the actual host)? Maybe I'm also getting my terminology mixed up ... – brhans Sep 3 at 15:28
  • Does the appendix for the Cloudflare agreement "state substitute language for Subsections 3.2.1.1 through 3.2.1.6 as applicable to that TLD"? – L235 Sep 3 at 17:15
  • @brhans yes, I have a domain registered via Cloudflare Registrar whose nameservers I want to point off-Cloudflare to nameserver hosted by a third-party. – Amin Shah Gilani Sep 3 at 20:09
  • @L235 it does not, but even if it did, in the original agreement, sections 3.2.1.1 through 3.2.1.6 are only the labels of records (3.2.1.2 being the nameserver record), the actual subsections regarding updating those records 3.2.2, which the Registrar Agreement does not specify that the Registrar may override. – Amin Shah Gilani Sep 3 at 20:22

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