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Domain Name Transfer Help

Domain Name Transfer Help

It's kind of strange, but yesterday I helped two of our client move their domain names, and we helped another today. This isn't the kind of thing that comes up too often, so three in two days is a bit strange. Because of that, I thought I'd just outline the domain name transfer process in case this is something you need done.

Domain Name Transfer Process

In theory, this isn't too difficult to do, but there are some pretty big "gotchas" which come up.

First, let's get clear on the terminology. What you're doing is transferring a single domain name (like webstix.com) from your current domain name registrar to a new domain name registrar. For example, from Tucows to GoDaddy or from NameJuice to NameCheap.

  1. Find the login you have for the current domain name registrar. This may take some work and some password resets (more on this later).
  2. Go into that account and unlock the domain name you want to transfer.
  3. In that same account, look for a transfer code - you'll need this. Copy it.
  4. Create an account at the place you'll be transferring the domain name to.
  5. At the new place, initiate or buy a domain name transfer. They'll want to know which domain you're transferring, so put that in without the "www." part.
  6. To transfer a domain, the domain must be unlocked at the current registrar and you'll need the transfer code from the current registrar as well. Enter (paste) the transfer code at the new domain name registrar when prompted to do so.
  7. Do what you need to do (pay, confirm, stand on your head, etc.) to complete the process at the new registrar. This will initiate the process, which might take 1-2 days.

In most cases, you want the website and email to stay the same, so the default process should be to keep the same name servers. If asked about name servers, in most cases, you'll just choose to keep them the same. This ensures your website and email keep running. This is unless you're planning to do a server move the same time you're changing registrars (which I do not recommend - do one at a time).

Issues That Might Come Up

1. Getting Access to the Current Registrar Account / Forgotten Login, etc.

The biggest issue that comes up is that people don't know how to login to their current domain name registrar. They probably did this a long time ago and didn't keep track of the login - or maybe someone else at their company did it. Getting access might be a huge pain in the butt. I've seen this MANY times. Do whatever you need to do (some tips below).

TIP: Make absolutely sure that once you finally get the login, store it where you'll be able to find it. I suggest keeping this next to where you store your incorporation documents or other important things.

Who is Your Domain Registrar?

To find out who your domain registrar is, you need to do a "whois" request and look for the registrar information. Do the whois here.

Enter your domain and click the Search button:

WHOIS Lookup for webstix.com

The "Registrar WHOIS Server" and the "Registrar URL" will tell you who the registrar is:

WHOIS information about webstix.com

Sometimes companies are a reseller. For example, Webstix Domains is a reseller for GoDaddy. Other companies like Enom and Tucows do this as well (there may be others). The URL they give there should help you get to your account, so copy and paste that into your browser.

2. You Didn't Register Your Domain

Another issue we run into is where someone had a website designed, but the domain name was registered by their previous developer, so they actually control it (we never do this). In some cases, they've even kept the domain hostage (that's bad, folks), but most are willing to let it go - you'll just need to work with them through the process.

3. Name Server Issues

If possible, do not change both the domain and name servers at the same time. Instead, do them separately - like a few days apart. This is because there's really too much that can go wrong and if something does go wrong, it's sometimes difficult to know where to make changes.

I suggest first transferring the domain, keeping the name servers the same, then change the name servers after you've confirmed the domain has moved to the new registrar (by doing a WHOIS lookup as described above).

Again, when transferring the domain, choose to keep the same name servers (this is often the default way of doing it).


This process may seem a little scary, and it certainly can be. There's something to be said about being organized in this situation.

If you get into trouble, first document the steps you already took, make sure you have as many logins as possible, then contact us and we'll see if we can help. If so, you can use our Maintenance Blocks system to buy our time to help you.


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