Is applying for a new gTLD the same as buying a domain name?

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No. Nowadays, organizations and individuals around the world can buy second-level and, in some cases, even third-level domain names. They simply need to find an accredited registrar or reseller, comply with the registrant terms and conditions and pay annual fees. The application for a new gTLD is a much more complex process. An applicant for a new gTLD is, in fact, applying to create and operate a registry business and sign a contract with ICANN.