Transferring a domain name is something that many people who own a website will encounter over the course of running their business. While the process is relatively simple, for most people it is not something that you will do often, and therefor, can seem daunting and risky. Fortunately, the operation is quite simple and straight forward.
Reasons to Transfer a Domain Name
There are several reasons why you may wish to transfer a domain name
- You have purchased a domain from an auction or 3rd party.
- To take advantage of discounted transfer prices and coupons, which often are considerably cheaper than renewing with the same registrar
- To consolidate all your domains into a single account for ease of use, as maintaining multiple registrar accounts can be difficult
Transferring a Domain to a Different Account vs Registrar
Before you begin, especially if your reason for the transfer is #1 above, you may want to simply push the ownership into a different account within the same registrar. The advantages to this are that it is free and typically much faster. It is slightly different depending which registrar you use but normally very easy. With most companies you simply enter the Account ID or Authorization Code of the destination account in the sending account under the proper field for the domain. At this point all that is left is for each party to verify their email accounts, and the process is completed. A few registrars make things a bit more complicated for security reasons, in particular Hover, which requires their customer support agents to oversee the process and have each account holder verify PINs to proceed. Another advantage, as is discussed in the next section, is that a transfer to an account on the same registrar is not blocked by any Auction or Transfer locks, which can occur if a domain is recently transferred or registered for upwards of 60 days.
Things to be Aware of Before Transferring a Domain
Before transferring a domain to an account at a different registrar, you will need to confirm the following:
- That the domain is not under an auction or transfer lock. To prevent fraud, as well as abuse of discount registrations, new domains and those recently purchased from auctions are typically locked by most registrars for up to 60 days. During this period it cannot be transferred to another registrar
- That Whois privacy is disabled. The transfer process involves verifying ownership and confirming emails by both the sending and receiving registrar. With Whois privacy this is not possible. In our experience, this is the most common cause of transfer failures
- That the domain does not have an account set transfer lock. For security purposes, by default, most domains will be locked. This is to prevent illicit parties who socially engineer access from stealing domains. This is usually simple for the sending account to unlock at their registrar. For security purposes, it is highly recommended to keep all domains transfer locked unless actively in the process of transferring.
- The account receiving the domain will need to add at least 1 year of additional registration to the domain in order to transfer it. The price for this varies depending on the registrar.
The Transfer Process
The process varies slightly depending on the registrar involved. See below for specifics to each, but there is a general process involved. To begin the sending account will ensure their domain is unlocked, and disable Whois privacy. In the domain settings, there will be a Transfer Authorization Code. This code is given to the owner of the receiving or buying account. Be very careful who you share this Transfer Authorization Code with, as if the wrong person gets hold of it, there is a chance they could steal the domain. At this point, the receiving account goes to their registrar of choice in the Transfer section and enters the domain and Authorization Code. Once verified, it will enable them to purchase 1 or more years of registration which adds on to however long is left on the domain (for instance, if there are 2yrs left on a domain transferring it will add a 3rd year even if the transferring buyer only pays for 1yr). At this point, there is typically email verification by the sending/selling account owner to agree to have the domain taken from their account. Once they complete this process, the domain is moved to the new owner’s account. Due to the various registrars and iCANN’s involvement, the process can take as little as a few hours or up to a full week.
After the Transfer
Once the domain is moved to its new account, it is essential that the new owner ensure the Whois data is their own and correct. Given the new rules on domain registration, a false Whois entry can lead to the domain being cancelled and lost. It is also important that the new owner ensure the domain is now Transfer locked (though it likely will be automatically for up to 60 days due to the transfer itself), and that Whois privacy is (re)enabled if they wish.
How to Transfer a Domain from Each Registrar
Here is a list of the transfer guides including images and videos for most major domain registrars: