How To Transfer A Domain Name

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, November 05, 2009 at 04:00 AM with 0 comments

Transferring domain names between people, businesses or entities is a common practice today and something I do quite a bit at my Internet consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC. Where it may be common for myself, for those involved it takes a little understanding, especially as it is something may not do too often. The following is the overall process for transferring a domain name. There may be nuances with each domain name registrar, to which they can help you.

Before We Begin

Domain names are registered through a registrar. In order to do anything with the domain name, you should have a login and password to an account with them. In some cases you may be going through a reseller who will handle much of this for you. If not, the process describes the overall transaction.

You should know who you are transferring the domain name to, their email address and their registrar, which I’ll refer to as the receiving registrar, or receiver. Other information may also be pertinent depending on the receiver. You will ideally get an email or two from the receiver and it should have identifying information to verify to whom you are transferring the domain name. The registrar the domain name is leaving is sometimes referred to as the losing registrar, but we’ll never call them losers! With regards to email messages being sent to the person who is transferring a domain name to someone else, the messages will be sent to the email address which is listed in the contact information of the domain name. Therefore, you should verify the contact information on the domain name is accurate before the process begins. It is also a good practice to ensure all of the contact information for all of your domains is correct as well!

In some cases you may be transferring a domain name to an escrow service, which usually happens when you sell a domain name. Escrow services serve as a middleman between a buyer and a seller. The buyer will pay the escrow service and the seller will transfer the domain name to the escrow service. Once both have been done, the escrow service will transfer the domain name to the buyer and pay the seller, minus some fee. If you are selling a domain name and don’t know to whom you are selling it, it is best to use an escrow service.

There are 2 ways to transfer a domain name to someone else – to another registrar or within the same registrar.

Transferring To Another Registrar

Transferring a domain name to another registrar is initiated by a request from the receiving person. They will do this within their registrar account. The process of transferring a domain name will involve renewing the domain name for an additional year, which will be added to the domain name once it has been received into your account at the receiver. There will most always be a cost for transferring a domain name.

An authorization code is needed from the losing registrar to give to the person initiating the request. Every registrar has their own way of providing you with the auth code. Some, like name.com, make it very easy and it is visible on a domain name’s detail page. Others like GoDaddy.com require you to request it and it is sent by email. Registrar.com requires you to call them to request it by email, which is totally obnoxious in my opinion, but so are their prices! Once received, pass it along to the requestor and they will enter the code on their end during the initiation.

As well as the auth code, the domain name must be “unlocked.” A registrar lock is a preventative measure so a domain name isn’t inadvertently or fraudulently transferred to someone else. You will have to click a link at the losing registrar’s page for the domain name to unlock it. If a domain name is locked and a transfer is initiated, some receiver’s automatically reject it before an order is placed, and if it is placed the losing registrar will definitely reject it.

Once a request is made, there are several steps. Verification of the request is done by the requestor, followed by an email address sent to the contact’s email address. In cases where there are multiple contacts, the email may be sent to all contacts or just the registrant’s email address. This email will require a confirmation in order for the transfer to be performed. In the email is commonly a link to a Web page to approve the transfer. This Web page may either be a page with a yes or no button, or it may require a login to the receiver’s account. If the latter, you should forward the email address to the receiver, thus it’s handy to have their contact information.

If approved, a follow-up email may be sent to confirm the transfer is in process. If it is not approved, a message to that effect may be sent. If the transfer email is ignored, no other emails may be sent or follow-ups may be sent, depending on the registrar. I would not ignore a transfer request, rather I would reject it if it is not desired.

Now the wait begins. It can take up to a week for a domain name to transfer. Once completed, ideally you should get an email from both the receiving and losing registrar’s that the transfer has been completed, but this also varies by registrar.

Transferring Within A Registrar

If the receiver’s registrar is the same as where you have the domain name registered, the process may be more streamlined as it is a transfer within accounts of the registrar. This is commonly referred to as a “push.” Registrars will have their own process of doing so, but it is commonly initiated by the current owner of the domain name, where they are requesting the domain name be “pushed” to another account. The domain name may or may not have to be locked. This process can usually be achieved within a short period of time, hours as compared to days. As well, pushing a domain name may not incur a fee or any renewal.

It Happens Every Day

Domain name transfers occur daily in large numbers. It is important to know the process in case any issues arise. Whether selling or buying or moving domain names of your own from one registrar to another, transfers are a large part of Internet business, and now you are in the know.

I welcome your comments on the process as I outlined it. I was detailed in my explanations, and maybe you have some thoughts on it, or any clarifications that may be helpful for others.


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