New Domain Transfer Rules

As of this Friday, November 12, domain transfers will be a lot easier. If you want to move a domain from one registrar (say, Network Solutions) to a better one like GoDaddy or, it will be easier to do than ever. That's the good news.

Update on 11/12/2004: Apparently we were mistaken in our original take on this issue. Thanks to John Gruber for linking to this article that explains the situation better. Transfer of ownership of domains is not really affected by the policy change. Your domain cannot be stolen without confirmation from you. If someone attempts to change ownership of the domain, and you don't confirm it, the transfer just fails, the way it always has.

That said, making sure your contact information is up to date is still very important, because that's what will allow to transfer from a crappy domain registrar to a good one. And if you happen to like your registrar, as we do, you might want to lock your domain there. It is, however, not as imperative as we thought. Here are the steps you should follow to confirm your domain status and contact information.

  1. Make sure you know who your registrar is. If you don't know, you can find out using a tool called WHOIS. Type your domain in the WHOIS field (it's not labeled domain, which could be confusing). The registrar is shown at or near the top of the results.
  2. Update your contact information with the registrar, if it's out of date. The most important piece of data that must be correct is your email address. Make sure it's an address you check regularly, and also make sure any spam filters you're using allow email from your registrar's domain to get through. To make the update, you'll need your account information for your registrar. With GoDaddy, this is usually a customer number; with Network Solutions, it can be a variety of things, including an email address. There will also, of course, be a password you'll need to find or remember.
  3. Once you know the account information is up to date, you've done the most important work. There is, however, one more step you can do -- lock your domain. GoDaddy calls it Locking a domain, Network Solutions calls it Domain Protect. The generic term appears to be "Registry-Lock", and it shows up in WHOIS results also. The upshot is, if the domain is locked, it cannot be transferred to another registrar or modified in any way. The domain still works just fine, your website and email are still fully accessible, it just can't be changed. You can always turn the lock off if you need to update some information, or if you decide to transfer the domain to a new registrar.

This article is not quite as important as we originally believed, but keeping your domain contact information up-to-date is very important, so we can at least feel good about that.

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