What exactly happens when you want to move your domain to a different location, or in technical terms, to a different registrar? This is known as a domain transfer, and in this guide we will walk you through the process, making it as simple as ABC.
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Understanding the Domain Transfer Process
Think of a domain name as a piece of online property. Just like a physical property, it has an address (the domain name) and a property manager (the registrar).
The registrar is the company where you registered your domain name. They manage your domain’s records and can provide other services like web hosting. Popular registrars include GoDaddy, Namecheap, Network Solutions, and Names.com.
My personal go-to source is Namecheap. They have a reliable service with domains at very reasonable prices
Now, imagine you want to change your property manager because another company offers better services or lower prices. In the online world, this is what we call a domain transfer. It’s the process of changing the company (registrar) that manages your domain name.
There are two main ways to do this, either by transferring the domain in between two different registrars, or by transferring the domain within the same registrar.
Let’s take a detailed look at the steps involved behind both these type of domain transfers.
Transfer Domain Between Registrars
This is like moving your property management from one company to another. You’re not changing your address (domain name), you’re just changing the company that manages your property (registrar).
This process is a bit like telling your old property manager you’re moving out, getting the necessary paperwork, and then setting up with the new manager.
Transferring a domain between two different registrars involves 5 main steps.
Step 1: Unlocking the Domain
The seller (current owner of the domain) unlocks the domain name and requests an authorization code from the current registrar. This code is unique to the domain and is crucial for the transfer process.
When we say ‘unlocking the domain’, we’re referring to a security feature that’s put in place by registrars. Just like you lock your house to keep it secure, your domain name is locked to prevent unauthorized changes.
This lock needs to be removed before you can transfer your domain to a new registrar.
The process of unlocking a domain varies slightly depending on your registrar, but it generally involves logging into your account, finding your domain settings, and then clicking something like ‘Unlock Domain’.
It’s a bit like turning a key in a lock; once it’s done, your domain is ready to be moved.
Step 2: Requesting an Authorization Code
Once your domain is unlocked, the next step is to request an authorization code, also known as an Auth-Info Code, EPP code, or transfer key.
This code is a unique identifier for your domain, and is used to confirm that you have the authority to transfer the domain.
Again, the process to get this code varies by registrar, but it generally involves going to your domain settings and clicking ‘Get Authorization Code’.
Some registrars will display the code immediately, while others will email it to you.
This code is crucial for the transfer process. When you give it to the new registrar, it’s like saying, ‘I have the authority to make changes to this domain’.
Without the authorization code, the domain transfer can’t proceed.
In the first two steps you are preparing your domain to be transferred. The next steps will involve interacting with the transferee to start the actual transfer of the domain to the new registrar.
Step 3: Providing the Authorization Code
Once the seller has unlocked the domain and obtained the authorization code, the next step is to provide this code to the buyer.
This code acts as a sort of ‘digital key’ to the domain, allowing the buyer to initiate the transfer process on their end.
The authorization code is typically provided via email for convenience and security. It’s important to note that this code should be handled with care, as anyone with the code could potentially initiate a domain transfer. It’s akin to handing over the keys to a house. You wouldn’t want to give them to just anyone.
The seller should ensure that the email containing the authorization code is sent to the correct recipient, usually the buyer or their designated representative.
It’s also a good idea to confirm receipt of the email to ensure that it hasn’t ended up in a spam folder or been otherwise missed.
Step 4: Initiating the Transfer
Once the buyer has received the authorization code from the seller, they are ready to initiate the transfer process at their chosen registrar. This is like the buyer taking the keys to their new house and officially moving in.
Here’s how it generally works:
Choose a Registrar: The buyer needs to decide which registrar they want to use for their domain. This could be based on a variety of factors, such as price, customer service, additional services offered, and personal preference.
Initiate the Transfer: The buyer will then go to their chosen registrar’s website and look for the option to transfer a domain. This is usually clearly marked and easy to initiate.
Enter the Domain Name and Authorization Code: The buyer will be prompted to enter the domain name they wish to transfer and the authorization code they received from the seller.
This is a crucial step, as the authorization code is what verifies that the transfer is legitimate.
Each registrar will have a slightly different process for transfers. The buyer will need to follow the steps provided by their chosen registrar. This may include confirming their contact information, agreeing to terms and conditions, and paying any necessary transfer fees.
Once the transfer has been initiated, an email is usually sent by the new registrar to the seller to confirm the transfer request. The seller will be requested to approve the transfer.
Step 5: Completion of domain transfer
Once the transfer process has been initiated and all the necessary steps have been completed, the registrar (the company currently managing the domain) needs to approve the transfer.
This approval is essentially the registrar confirming that all the necessary requirements have been met and that the domain can be moved.
After the transfer is approved, the registrar then has five business days to release the domain name.
Releasing the domain is like officially signing over the property to the new owner. It’s the registrar’s way of saying, ‘This domain is no longer under our management’.
It’s important to note that while the registrar has five business days to release the domain, the entire process can take up to seven calendar days. This is because the transfer process also includes time for various verifications to ensure the security and legitimacy of the transfer.
The 60-Day Domain Name Transfer Lock Rule
If you have just registered a domain name or transferred a domain name to a new registrar, you usually have to wait 60 days before you can transfer it out again.
This is known as the ‘60-day domain name transfer lock rule’. It’s a bit like a cooling-off period to prevent people from constantly moving domains around.
However, some registrars, like Uniregistry, allow customers to opt-out of this 60-day lock. This means you could potentially transfer your domain again sooner. Also, if you’re just moving the domain to a different account at the same registrar (push transfer), the 60-day lock doesn’t apply.
At some registrars, if you change any of the owner’s information (like the first name, last name, organization, or email address), it also triggers the 60-day lock. This is a security measure to help prevent domain theft.
Domain Push at Current Registrar
The second type of domain transfer is known as a Domain push, and this is a much simpler process, because it involves transferring the domain name to someone else, who uses the same registrar, you can simply ‘push’ the domain to the new owner’s account.
This process is usually quicker and easier than a full transfer between different registrars because it’s all happening within the same company. It’s just a matter of updating the account details, rather than setting up a whole new account.
Here’s how it works in more detail:
Agreement to Transfer: First, you and the other party agree to the transfer. This could be because you’ve sold your domain name, or perhaps you’re transferring it to a colleague or friend.
Initiate the Push: You’ll then log into your account at the registrar (the company where the domain name is registered) and find the option to ‘push’ the domain. This is usually found in the settings for the specific domain name.
Enter the Recipient’s Account Information: The registrar will ask for the account information of the person you’re pushing the domain to. This is usually their username or email address associated with their account at the registrar.
Confirm the Push: After you’ve entered the recipient’s account information, you’ll confirm the push. The registrar will then send an email to the recipient to confirm they accept the domain.
Recipient Accepts the Domain: The recipient will log into their account, find the notification of the domain push, and accept it. Once they’ve done this, the domain name will appear in their account, and they’ll have full control over it.
A domain push can often happen very quickly. In many cases, it can even be instantaneous, happening the same day you initiate it. It’s a bit like handing over a physical item to someone; once you give it to them, they have it immediately.
Because this process can happen so quickly, it’s important to make sure any payment for the domain has been properly handled before you start the push.
One of the big advantages of a domain push is that the 60-day domain name transfer lock rule doesn’t apply.
In simple terms, a domain push is a quick and easy way to move a domain between accounts at the same registrar, without having to worry about the usual waiting period.
ICANN Policy for Domain Transfers
In December 2016, ICANN (the organization that oversees domain names) had issued a policy that standardizes the requirements for domain transfers.
The ICANN policy includes the following requirements.
- Any changes to the owner’s information will start a trade process. This is a bit like entering a new contract whenever you change your details.
- Clear confirmation from both the current and new owners is required before a change can be completed. This is to make sure everyone agrees to the change.
- After a change of owner has been completed, both the previous and new owner need to receive notifications about the change. They also have the option of reversing the change.
- After a change of owner has been completed, the domain is automatically locked for transfers to a new registrar for the next 60 days. This is to give everyone time to make sure everything is correct before any more changes can be made.
These rules had been created to make sure that when a domain name changes hands or details, it’s done securely and with everyone’s agreement.
Transferring a domain name is a bit like moving houses. It can take some time and paperwork, but with a little patience and the right steps, it can be a smooth and straightforward process. This is an important process you need to be well aware of as you proceed in your journey of domain investing.
As we wrap up this guide, we hope you’re feeling more confident about domain transfers, but our series of guides into the realm of domain name investing is far from over. In our next article, we’ll delve into the importance of matching your domain to your brand name.
For the full list of knowledge articles head on to our Domains Investment Hub.