Every device connected to the Internet has an IP address, until recently an IPv4 address, although IPv6 addresses are becoming more and more common. Servers hosting a domain have an IP address, through which users can find the domain. It is obviously much easier to remember a Domain Name, say acme.com than an IPv4 address of the form 123.456.789.012.
The Domain Name System, DNS, is a database of IP addresses and their associated Domain Names that given a domain name allows networking software to retrieve the associated IP address and make a connection to it.
When the Domain has a new IP address, perhaps in a change of service provider, the DNS entry needs updating to reflect the new IP address. A Domain Name Transfer can also happen when a wholesaler of domain names sells one to a client.
This Domain Name Transfer can be a simple process and should only take a short time to take effect, but many people are fearful because they just don’t know the process.
To ease the pain, Managed Service Providers like HostSailor usually offer a Domain Transfer and Registration service, although an individual user can do it themselves. Here is an overview of the process, written from the viewpoint of the seller, though the buyer should also know the steps that are being taken.
Domain Name Transfer – The Registrar
A domain name registrar is an individual, or more likely a business that reserves domain names and IP address assignments on behalf of individuals and organizations. A Domain Name Transfer may require one or two registrars to complete the work.
Domain Name Transfer – The Preliminaries
The first, and most obvious thing is, unless there is no change of ownership involved, to ensure that the buyer and seller have agreed on a price. A couple of things here, agree who pays the time remaining on the subscription period, and that the buyer agrees to pick up the subscription costs when the period ends.
From the buyers standpoint, make sure that the seller has the rights to sell, and that they have valid contact details. Obvious, but it is surprising how often buyers are fooled into paying out for no result.
Domain Name Transfer – The Process
You will need the assistance of both the existing and new domain name registrar when transferring the domain name.
The process is as follows, though not all steps may be needed.
The seller must:
- Make all the information in the DNS entry visible. In normal circumstances, part of the DNS entry is hidden for privacy and security reasons. The new registrar will need to know who is currently in charge of the domain, so that information will need to be unlocked by disabling WHOIS.
- Unlock the Domain. Again, in normal circumstances, the domain is locked for security reasons so it cannot be transferred or have its IP address details altered to prevent the domain being stolen or hijacked.
- Find the Transfer Authorization Code. This is a code held by the seller’s registrar without which the domain cannot be moved. It isn’t always called the Authorization Code, but sometimes could be an “EPP Key”, “Auth Code”, or just “Code”.
The Buyer must now:
- Open up their account with their registrar and submit a domain transfer request.
- If required, pay any fees, including the subscription fee.
The seller must now:
- Ensure that the new registrar sends an email to the old registrar informing them of the transfer request.
- Accept anything that needs to be accepted in respect of the domain transfer.
- Ensure that the old registrar and new registrar complete any and all further steps to complete the transfer. For example, locking the WHOIS entry for the new domain registration.
One point to understand is that this is a “people” process not an automated one. Keeping records of all the steps taken and tracking all the steps in the process is essential in case of any problems down the line.
A fuller description of the process can be found here.
The very final step is that, following the Doman Transfer, the world-wide DNS entries are automatically updated with the new address. The whole process can be quite quick, but however, it can be time-consuming and a little bit intimidating for a user, so it is often best left to managed service providers who carry out transfers on a regular basis.
If you want to have an informal chat with us at HostSailor or have any queries or concerns about a domain transfer, please don’t hesitate to contact us.