One issue that we see come up from time to time is when one of our clients tries to switch their hosting to us and then they find that they actually do not have their domain name registered in their name. What happened was, their old website designer registered the domain in their name instead. This can be a very big problem when the previous website design company goes out of business or becomes unreachable. It can be near impossible to get ownership of the domain name sometimes - in that case, there are many hoops to jump through.
If you do not have control of your domain name, then the DNS (name servers) cannot be modified to point to our website hosting and this can hold up the launch of your new website. It's best to review who has domain name ownership at the early stages of a website design project with Webstix.
First, don't panic!
Second, see if you can get in contact of whomever registered the domain name. See if they will cooperate in getting the domain name in your (or your company's) name. To find out who registered your domain name, you need to do a "whois" lookup. What that does is give you all that information.
What you want to do is see who the Administrative Contact is. Sometimes, the domain name is registered privately. If that's the case, then it'll say that it's a private registration but there should still be an email address listed. You can send an email to that address and hopefully someone will respond. Sometimes, since that's a proxy email account (relayed), your email could end up in their spam/junk email folder and never be seen.
Third, if you're not able to get in contact with the Administrative Contact for the domain name, then you need to jump through some hoops. You will need to contact the domain name registrar and find out how you can get control of the domain name. You will have to give them some kind of proof like a copy of your business incorporation papers or the like. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. You are best off calling the domain name registrar, opening a case and getting yourself a contact person there that can help you.
Your goal with all these steps is to get an authorization code.
Next, you should go to a domain name registrar and purchase a transfer of a domain. Put in your domain name as the one you want to transfer. That registrar will guide you through the process of doing the transfer and, during that process, you will need to enter the authorization code. Doing that means that you have authorization to move the domain.
We cannot do this for you. You have to do it so that it's in your name this time - or else you'll end up in the same situation in the future again.
It's a good idea to purchase the domain transfer at the same registrar where the domain is registered now. This could make the transfer just a bit easier. Or, we have our https://domains.webstix.com website where we're a reseller for GoDaddy. It's up to you.
With the transfer, usually what happens is that it keeps the same DNS servers as you currently have. That is fine, we would then just have to go in and change them once you get control of the domain. Or, if they let you, you can specify our name servers (ns.rackspace.com and ns2.rackspace.com) and then the new website will be up once the transfer happens (if your new website is ready to be made live).
FYI, technically what needs to happen is the domain name points to DNS servers and there are records there which say which server controls the email for the domain and which server takes care of the website. There's sometimes more to it than that but that's basically what happens.