Table of Contents    Previous Chapter: 7 International DOI Foundation    Next Chapter: 9 Operating Procedures


8 Registration Agencies


This chapter explains the role and function of Registration Agencies in the DOI® System, including operational and technical requirements and policies. A list of current Registration Agencies and their areas of coverage is available here.

© International DOI Foundation    Last updated: October 17, 2016


8.1 Roles
8.2 Business model for Registration Agencies
8.3 RA non-exclusivity and restrictions
8.4 Becoming a Registration Agency
8.5 Formal relationship between an RA and the IDF
8.6 Fee structure for Registration Agencies
8.7 Operational and technical requirements for Registration Agencies


8.1 Roles

Registration Agencies provide services to Registrants. These services include allocating prefixes, registering DOI names and providing the necessary infrastructure to allow Registrants to declare and maintain metadata and state data (i.e. use of the DOI system) but will also include services not directly involving the DOI system which add value, for example, management of a database of related data with facilities for look-up from metadata to DOI name.

A Registration Agency can be considered as a module of the DOI system, serving a constituency. New RAs can be added at any time, thereby allowing modular growth of the system by adding new communities of users and providing tailored services for them. A community is loosely defined, but could be any group of entities sharing a common application or interest, under any organisational structures (public, private sector, not-for profit, regulator, etc). Adding a module (RA) could also encompass any of the following activities:

The following is a summary of the roles of Registrants, Registration Agencies and the IDF.


Registration Agency:



8.2 Business model for Registration Agencies

Registration Agencies must comply with the policies and technical standards established by the IDF, but are free to develop their own business model for running their businesses. There is no appropriate "one size fits all" model; RAs may be for-profit or not-for-profit organisations. The costs of providing DOI registration may be included in the services offered by an RA provision and not separately distinguished from these. Examples of possible business models may involve explicit charging based on the number of prefixes allocated or the number of DOI names allocated; volume discounts, usage discounts, stepped charges, or any mix of these; indirect charging through inclusion of the basic registration functions in related value added services; and cross-subsidy from other sources.

Registration Agencies may choose to provide other DOI system-related services to Registrants, without limitation so long as they conform with IDF agreements and policies. These services may include any combination of value added services in, for example, data, content or rights management. Registration Agencies may also develop services that exploit the metadata that they collect.


8.3 RA non-exclusivity and restrictions

Exclusivity of DOI name registration rights covering either a specific geographic territory or a wide area of application in general (e.g. "audio") will not normally be granted to any Registration Agency. Exceptions are possible, e.g. where the RA is mandated to operate as a service for an existing closed community and will not offer its registration services outside that community. DOI applications often overlap and in the digital world any number of categorisations are possible, which makes exclusive arrangements difficult. The only exception at present is an implementation for the Publications Office of the EU, covering DOI registration and management of official EU documents.

In order to maintain a persistent identifier, a DOI application normally provides more value than simply registering a DOI, by offering an added value service such as citation linking or metadata management. RAs operate as independent businesses on the basis of these added-value services and unique selling propositions they bring to offer to the market. In order to provide some coherence of DOI services, applications to become a Registration Agency are assessed in the context of likely business implications. Where there is an overlap of the expected market or services of RAs, each will be informed of the potential for overlap or competition and invited to address the problem in such a way as to encourage uptake of the DOI system as a whole whilst ensuring that legitimate business interests are met.


8.4 Becoming a Registration Agency

Registration Agency membership is only available to organizations which (a) have participated in the IDF as a General Member; (b) have made a successful application to the IDF Board to be appointed as a Registration Agency; (c) have signed a Registration Agency Agreement with the IDF.

Registration Agencies will typically register many thousands or millions of DOI names, and have multiple customers and services, thereby generating economies of scale. Registration Agencies for smaller scale applications will probably not be viable as stand-alone entities, though Registration Agencies may collaborate to e.g. share back-office services to improve viability. Communities that cannot identify an acceptable RA should contact the IDF to discuss how the DOI system might be used, and whether a new RA application might be developed.

Organizations interested in becoming a General Member of the IDF with a view to developing a Registration Agency application are encouraged to contact the IDF for an exploratory discussion. See also the detailed IDF membership information in Chapter 7.

All appointments as a Registration Agency are made at the discretion of the Board of the Foundation. It is unlikely that an application simply to register DOI names without offering additional services utilising these registered DOIs will be acceptable or successful. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to review one or more of the existing Registration Agencies for examples of services and operations. Registration Agencies may be of any form (commercial, governmental, or not for profit). Examples of the functions of an organisation which might become a Registration Agency include, but are not limited to:


8.5 Formal relationship between an RA and the IDF

Registration Agencies enter into an agreement with the IDF. A copy of this generic agreement is available.

The RA agreement covers a number of areas (consult the full agreement for definitive wording) including:

1. Grants of rights

2. Obligations of the RA

3. Obligations of the IDF

4. Rights and intellectual property

5. Change procedures, warranties, indemnities, and liability

6. Termination procedures, including


8.6 Fee structure for Registration Agencies

The DOI system is a cost-recovery system. ISO Council resolution 17/2012 "approves that fees can be charged on a cost-recovery basis by IDF in the operation of the Registration Authority for ISO 26324". The cost of common DOI infrastructure (managed by the International DOI Foundation on behalf of all Registration Agencies) is met by a charge made to each Registration Agency, whilst allowing each Registration Agency to adopt individual commercial models incorporating DOI name registration for their services. Each Registration Agency (RA) makes an annual payment to IDF, independent of the number of DOI names assigned or maintained. This includes all costs, i.e. both membership in the DOI Foundation and Registration Agency fees. This model aims to provide the benefits of simplicity of explanation; relative predictability; independence of number of DOI names registered; predictable stability from year to year; and ease of modeling and budgeting. Each year's fee is calculated on a model based on the following formula, and approved as part of the annual IDF Budget process prior to the start of the year:

[A]: IDF central costs (excluding B and C below)
[B]: Technical Services Agreement operating costs paid by IDF
[C]: Handle Fee costs paid by IDF
[D]: Any necessary adjustment (+/-) to maintain an agreed cash reserve
[E]: Income which IDF has from non-RA sources (e. g. non-RA membership fees)
[F]: the resulting sum to be covered by collective RAs = [A]+[B]+[C]+[D]-[E]
[G]: the number of RAs in the year
[H]: the resulting cost per RA = [F]/[G] as a single fee, fixed for the year

The fee will be invoiced in two equal instalments, payable in January and July of the current year. The following exceptions and corrections are applicable to this calculation:

See also the detailed IDF membership information in Chapter 7.


8.7 Operational and technical requirements for Registration Agencies

The following operational relationships exist:

An authorized Registration Agency issues prefixes to registrants and requests the resolution system provider to register such new prefixes in the Handle System. The RA maintains the systems environment for storing a minimum set of descriptive metadata that can be provided and may be integrated with the Handle System. The service provided by each Registration Agency must include quality assurance measures, so that the integrity of the DOI system as a whole is maintained at the highest possible level (delivering reliable and consistent results to users). This includes ensuring that state data is accurate and up-to-date and that metadata is consistent and complies with both DOI Kernel and appropriate DOI data model standards. Registration Agencies must provide adequate security to ensure that only the Registrant (or someone acting with the Registrant's permission) is able to maintain both metadata and state data.

If an RA choses to implement and operate a Local Handle Service for their DOI names, CNRI will provide the RA with the necessary software and technical guidance to help them install and administer their handle server. CNRI is responsible for the scalability of the system and, in consultation with the IDF, for implementing future developments leading to its growth and any improvement to its technical sophistication.

See Chapter 9, Operating Procedures for more information on operational and technical requirements.


Previous Chapter: 7 International DOI Foundation    Next Chapter: 9 Operating Procedures

DOI_disc_logo ®, DOI®, DOI.ORG®, and shortDOI® are trademarks of the International DOI Foundation.