What Happens to My Domain Name When I Transfer It?

Hostway Marketing - March 22, 2010

By Gail Seymour

When you transfer a domain name, you’re telling ICANN the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, that you want an alternative registrar to manage your domain. You may or may not decide to change your hosting provider at the same time.

Changing Hosting v Transferring Domain Name Only

If you decide to switch hosting providers, you will need to ensure you have a full backup of your Web site on your own computer before you begin the process. You’ll also need to ensure any server-side scripts can be installed and will run on your new hosting platform, because you will need to upload your site to your new server. If you’re not sure how to do this, check with your new host to see if they are able to help.

If you’re just transferring the domain registration, your hosting account will be unaffected, and there will be no need to transfer files between servers. Although DNS (domain name server) information should be transferred as part of the process, it’s always a good idea to have a record of them.

The Domain Transfer Process

When you request a domain name transfer, this is the first action in a chain of events involved in transferring a domain:

  • You request transfer with new registrar
  • New registrar sends an email to the administrative contact in the WHOIS database, to approve transfer.
  • Administrative Contact confirms the transfer request and provides the AUTH code for the domain. It’s best to ensure you are listed as the administrative contact and obtain the unlock code from your current registrar before requesting transfer to ensure the request is confirmed. If confirmation is not received within five days, the transfer request will fail and you will have to initiate the request again.
  • The new registrar will then send an email to the organization that manages the TLD (top level domain) extension.
  • Provided there is no reason not to release the domain, the managing body will send an email to the old registrar, for confirmation of the release. At this point if no reply is received within five days, the domain will pass to the new registrar by default.
  • Your new registrar will send you an email notifying you the transfer is complete. In most cases the DNS information will be copied from the old registrar to the new as part of the process, but if this does not happen, you may need to log into your new registrar’s account control panel and enter the DNS information manually.

Reasons a Domain Name Transfer Might Fail

The domain is locked, pending deletion, in a redemption period or inactive. Domains cannot be transferred for 60 days after initial registration or transfer. They will also not be released if they are the subject of legal disputes, such as over ownership or payments due. So before initiating a transfer, make sure your domain is in good standing and ask your old registrar to remove any domain locks, or log into the control panel and remove them manually.

About the Author

Gail Seymour has been a Web site designer for more than 10 years. During that time she has won three Sitesell design awards, and has managed the transfers of dozens of domains between registrars.

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