From wanting to improve your website speed and performance, to consolidating your business’s several domains, or even legal issues, there are a ton of reasons why you may want to transfer your domain to a new domain registrar.
And what’s even better, some of the best domain registrars on the market today are also the best web hosting providers, meaning you can get full-suite web solutions for your domain if you decide to make a move.
Here’s the thing. Transferring your domain is super easy but the several steps can get overwhelming if you are managing a domain or a website for the first time.
In the rest of this guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps you need to take to successfully transfer your domain to a new registrar… with no downtime!
- Reasons to transfer your domain: Change web hosts, improve website performance, adapt to business changes, relocate geographically, or address legal issues.
- Common issues during domain transfer: Eligibility requirements, domain unlocking, disabling domain privacy, obtaining authorization code, and backing up website files.
- Initiating the transfer: Selecting a new registrar, submitting transfer request, paying fees, and confirming the request.
- Completing the transfer: Responding to confirmation emails, waiting for transfer completion, verifying domain ownership, and updating DNS settings.
- Troubleshooting transfer problems: Contact current registrar, check eligibility requirements, verify authorization codes, disable domain privacy, verify contact information, contact new registrar, and retry if needed.
- Ensuring a successful transfer: Minimize website downtime and preserve business continuity.
Why Transferring a Domain May Be Necessary?
Your domain is like the home address for your website. Only now, when you’re ready to move, you can take your address with you! There are several cogs that work hand-in-hand to keep your website up and running.
Wondering if you should migrate your domain at all or if your reason to do it is valid enough? Here are some of the reasons other webmasters like you have moved their domains and were better off for it:
Migrating to a New Web Host
One of the most popular reasons why webmasters migrate or transfer their domains to another registrar is usually as a consequence of migrating to a new host.
Your website host affects your domain’s response time, loading time, uptime, level of security, and your website’s footprint. Plus, different web hosts have different packages at different prices.
Now here’s the thing. Many hosting providers today also provide domain registrar services. And since your domain is tightly bound to your website host, if you’re migrating to a new host, it makes sense and is recommended that you also transfer your domain to the host (who’s usually also a direct or third-party domain registrar) for seamless performance.
Your domain registrar gives you a portal to search for potential domain names, updates the domain name you choose to a domain registry, and gives you all the tools to manage your domain seamlessly.
From payment to managing your domain properties, and even when you’re ready to transfer your domain out, your domain registrar should give you all the tools to manage your domain out-of-the-box.
It is very important that you choose a good domain registrar that makes it all easy. If you feel like your current domain registrar isn’t meeting up to your expectation, then it may be a good idea to transfer to another registrar.
Is your business undergoing a major overhaul? Are you looking to take your business to new heights and looking to change your brand name or are you selling your business to a new entity that has bigger plans for the empire you’ve built?
Many times, when business owners sell their businesses or are changing their business name to a more suitable one (e.g. Facebook rebranding as Meta to encapsulate their plans for emerging tech and Web3), domain names need to change too.
If you are rebranding, you may need to change domain names completely or make your current domain a subdomain of your new one.
Domain registrars are not all the same. Some registrars have better infrastructure to manage domains for large businesses and corporations while others may be better suited to small to mid-sized businesses.
So, if your business is about to experience major change as a result of growth, you may need to transfer your domain to a better-suited provider.
Now, most times, when registering a domain name, your location won’t matter much, especially if you have an online business targeting an international audience. However, for local brands targeting a particular region or country, country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and geographic top-level domains (GeoTLDs) are often preferred. E.g.: domains with .uk, .eu, .ng, .ca, etc.
Also, websites that are subject to local regulations, e.g.: news websites, activist sites, adult content sites, etc, prefer offshore domain hosting.
If for whatever reason, you are moving your business to a new physical location or are expanding, or you are posting content that may have strict publishing laws, you may need to transfer your domain to a new registrar.
Legal issues are common with domain names where two businesses or individuals sue for the rights to a domain name.
For example, if an entity registers a new domain name that’s similar to the brand name of an established business, the latter might sue with the point that their customers may confuse the entity that registered the new name with their brand.
If you’re experiencing similar issues, it’s possible that you feel your current domain registrar is not handling matters as they should and may want to transfer your domain out.
If you run several businesses or sell several products with dedicated web pages, it is always better to consolidate all your domains, i.e.: move all your domains to one domain registrar.
Consolidating your domains allows you to manage all your domain names in one safe place. Also, doing so allows you to move all your domain names to a cheaper, more affordable solution if you feel the annual costs with your current domain are too pricey. The most important benefit of consolidating your domains is the convenience of managing all your domains and important information about them at a glance.
By consolidating your domains, you won’t have to log into several registrar accounts and bother with the hassle of checking important details – e.g.: expiry dates, renewal prices, etc. across several providers.
Preparing to Transfer a Domain
Transferring your domain name is easy but it’s a multi-step process. Before you initiate the transfer, there are several steps you need to take and changes you need to make under your domain name setup settings with your current registrar, to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. Here’s the breakdown:
Checking Eligibility for Transfer
Before you can transfer a domain out, it has to be eligible for the transfer. The ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the governing body for domain names and assigned numbers to entities worldwide. ICANN enforces a mandatory 60-day registrant lock for any new name registration (domain names, brand names, etc.)
So for your domain name to be eligible for a transfer, it needs to have been registered with your current registrar for at least 60 days. To check your domain transfer eligibility, simply log in to your account, navigate to your domain list, click on ‘manage’, and see your registration date. If the registration date was more than 60 days in the past, it is eligible to be transferred.
Unlocking the Domain
A domain lock is exactly what it sounds like – a security feature to prevent unauthorized transfers of your domain to other registrars, especially attempted by malicious entities. In order to transfer your domain, you’ll need to unlock your domain.
Using NameCheap as an example, many domain registrars make unlocking your domain as easy as clicking a button. Under ‘Sharing & Transfer’, then ‘Transfer Out’:
Simply click ‘Unlock’ and your domain will be free to be transferred out. While the UI of your domain registrar might be slightly different, most still provide a very user-friendly interface to help you manage your domains conveniently.
Disabling Domain Privacy
Domain privacy is one of the most important features to look out for when choosing a domain registrar but in some cases, you may need to disable your domain privacy to successfully transfer it out. When you register a new domain, your personal details – name, phone, address, email, etc – are publicly available on the WHOIS directory. This comes with the risk of potential hacks, email spam, etc.
To solve this, many domain registrars provide domain privacy where your details on the WHOIS directory are replaced with pseudo details provided by the registrar so that if someone tries to look up who owns your domain, your details are not shown.
Check out an example of what Namecheap’s protected details look like on my account:
You can simply turn off domain privacy if it is required but many times, you can still transfer a domain without needing to.
Obtaining the Authorization Code
To provide an extra level of security, you’d need to generate an authentication code (EPP code) to give permission for your domain to be transferred. The auth code creates an extra shield against an unauthorized transfer being made if you somehow get hacked and is sent to the registered email address tied to your domain registrar account. The Auth code also serves as a link between your old and new registrar and gives the latter the authority to migrate your domain.
To request your Auth code, simply go to your domain transfer settings and look for an ‘Auth code’ or ‘EPP code’ button. Usually, you’ll only need to select a reason for why you want to transfer, and the option to fill a form with more details, then just click ‘Send code’:
Check your email and you should see the auth code. Copy it and paste it into the prompt that comes up next.
Backing Up Website Files and Databases
Before you transfer your domain finally, it is important to back up your website files and databases especially if the transfer also means you are moving to a new host. The most convenient way to backup your website’s files and database is in cPanel which is offered by most hosts.
In cPanel, go to ‘Files’ and click ‘Backup’. Click on the ‘Full Backup option from the prompt that shows up and select the ‘Home Directory’. This backs up your whole website’s files and databases (user information) plus settings and email.
Click ‘generate backup’ and then you’ll see a prompt indicating that the backup is in progress. Once it’s complete, go back to the previous page and a tar.gz. The backup file will be available for you to download. Click on it and select the destination on your computer’s drive which the compressed file should be added to.
Initiating the Transfer
And now, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to actually initiate the transfer of your domain to a new registrar. But just before that:
Selecting a New Registrar
If you don’t know which registrar you want to migrate to or are looking for other alternatives and wondering how to choose, here’s a brief guide to selecting a registrar for your domain:
A high-quality domain registrar should:
- Be an ICANN accredited registrar
- Give you all the tools you need to manage your domain
- Be reasonably priced and have a transparent billing structure (no hidden fees)
- Have a user-friendly interface
- Have incredible customer support for any inquiries you may have
- Have WHOIS protection and high-security features
- Also, offer complementary services like hosting, security features, email, etc.
- Have policies in place for domain expiry – a grace period, additional fees, etc.
Submitting the Transfer Request
Next, you’ll need to create a user account on your new registrar’s website. After creating an account, navigate to their domain transfer page and submit a transfer request. You will then fill in the Auth code you generated earlier to give your new registrar permission.
Once the request is made, you will be contacted by both your old and new registrar to make sure that you are actually authorizing the transfer. Once you confirm that, your new registrar takes over the process and you can sit back and relax.
Paying Transfer Fees
Next, you have to pay fees for the transfer, and sometimes, your old registrar may also charge a small fee for the transfer which is why it’s important to check their transfer policies. Many registrars allow new users to transfer their domains from other registrars for free but often, you’ll need to pay for at least a year of their service.
If your new registrar is also a web host, keep in mind that the domain hosting pricing varies from host to host. If you plan to use their services, many hosting providers give you the first year of service for free.
Confirming Transfer Request
You’ll need to confirm the transfer as stated earlier. Depending on the registrar this may be a simple step like filling in a confirmation code sent to your email address. You will be contacted by both your old and new domain registrars to give both parties permission to proceed with the necessary.
It is very important that the contact details you provide are accurate and you still have access to the email address linked to your registrars. If you are not sure or no longer have access, it is very important to update your contact details with your old registrar even before you initiate the transfer.
Also note that the Auth code generated by your old registrar is usually valid for 5 days so if for any reason you don’t complete the process, you’ll need to generate a new code.
Completing the Transfer
The final phase of your input to transferring your domain involves you responding to confirmation emails and verifying your domain ownership.
Responding to Confirmation Emails
Cyber Hacks are very common with domains and hosting providers so in order to ensure that you are actually the one transferring your domain, your current and new registrars need double-level confirmations.
After initiating your transfer it is important to check your email inbox regularly and even the spam folder so that you don’t miss any confirmation requests.
Without the confirmation process, it will be easy for malicious entities to try migrating your domain without your consent. Registrars have high-security confirmations in place and most depend on your email!
Waiting for the Transfer to Complete
Now, the easy part. It’s all in the hands of your new registrar to make the transfer. It usually takes a few days to a week for your domain to be transferred. You can always check the status of your transfer under ‘Transfer requests’ in your dashboard on your new registrar.
Sit back and relax and when the transfer is done you will get a confirmation email. Do note that transferring your domain won’t cause any downtime as your nameservers on your old registrar will still handle your website delivery.
Your new registrar will give you a time frame for your domain transfer (up to 14 days, but usually less), and you’ll likely receive status updates from both your old and new registrar via email.
Updating DNS Settings
Your domain name system or DNS, is how your website content is served to a visitor on your site.
If your new registrar is also in charge of your hosting, you may not need to tweak your DNS settings. However, if you are only migrating your domain and want to stay with your current hosting provider, you will need to point your new registrar to your current hosting provider’s nameservers.
Using Namecheap as an example. Navigate to your DNS settings:
- Next, click on ‘Add Nameservers’ and select custom nameservers
- Go to your current hosting provider dashboard and then your domain list
- Click on the DNS settings for your domain name
Using BlueHost as an example, a page with the nameservers for your current host should appear:
Copy the nameservers names and paste them into the portal on your new registrar to point your domain to your host and avoid any downtime.
What Are the Common Issues That Can Arise During Transfer?
Even if you are transferring a domain for the first time, the process should be very easy for you but it is possible you face some of these issues:
Domain Not Eligible for Transfer
Remember that your domain needs to have been registered with your old registrar for at least 60 days before you can transfer it. If 60 days have not elapsed since your registration you won’t be able to transfer your domain out. Also, for some kinds of domain names – e.g.UK, .es domains, etc., there may be a few extra requirements for you to transfer them out.
It is important to check the eligibility requirements for both your new and old registrars to make sure your domain is eligible.
Incorrect Authorization Code
The Auth code is what gives your new registrar authority to start moving your domain. If your Auth code is incorrect, then your domain won’t be transferred. It is important to copy and paste the Auth code directly from the portal on your old registrar to the new registrar and not try to type it by hand.
Domain Privacy Services
Domain privacy or WHOIS privacy is a great feature for any domain registrar to have and is becoming the industry standard. However, domain privacy can also be a roadblock in successfully transferring your domain. Some new registrars require that you turn off domain privacy in order to access your information and at the same time, it may also be a requirement for your current registrar.
Leaving your domain privacy on can cause delays in verifying Important information.
If your payment provider or solution is delaying approving your new registrar’s bill, this can lead to delays in your domain transfer. Insufficient funds, rejected payment methods, and server downtimes, are some of the common payment issues that can hinder a seamless domain transfer.
How to Resolve Domain Transfer Problems?
Many first-time webmasters have run into these issues but just as many have figured them out quickly. Here’s your quick troubleshooting list if it’s becoming a hassle to transfer your domain:
Contact Your Current Registrar
One of the quickest ways to resolve any domain transfer issues is to contact your current domain registrar. By contacting an agent, you can quickly find out if your domain is eligible and receive guidance on how to request the Authentication code. Don’t worry, your registrar won’t be hesitant to help you because you’re leaving them.
Check Eligibility Requirements
Confirm that it’s been at least 60 days since you registered your domain with your current registrar. If that’s out of the way and it’s not eligible then your registrar may have a few extra requirements. Check your registrar or hosting provider’s knowledgebases to find all the requirements for domain transfer eligibility and follow the steps.
Verify Authorization Code
When you receive the Auth code in your email, copy and paste it into the input box on your new registrar’s website. It’s not advisable to type it in by hand as you may make a mistake or leave out small details like case sensitivity.
Disable Domain Privacy Services
To transfer your domain, your new registrar may need to verify your ownership and personal details. If the domain privacy offered by your current registrar is getting in the way of that, then you should disable it. After your domain transfer is successful, you will get a brand new domain privacy package from your new host. So, no worries!
Verify Contact Information
Verify and update your contact information – email address, phone number, etc – with your current registrar to make sure the confirmation details are sent to you. If you don’t have access to the email address currently tied to your domain registrar, then you should create a new one and update your contact details.
Contact Your New Registrar
Guess who’ll be the most eager to help you transfer your domain – your new registrar of course! They want you to bring your domain to them so it’s always a great idea to contact your new registrar for help. You can enjoy one-on-one guidance to help diagnose any issues.
Wait and Try Again!
And on some occasions, you may have done everything right and still run into issues with your domain transfer. This may be due to technical issues with your current and new registrar. So it may be a good idea to wait for a few days and try again.
It’s also very important to remember that it can take your new registrar from 24 hours up to a week or more to finish the process. So don’t panic if your domain is still tied to your old registrar even days after you have initiated the transfer. Be patient!
Domains are the most crucial part of your online identity. When a user says they want to visit your website, it is your domain name they type into the browser. If you are looking to transfer your domain from your current registrar, this guide was written just for you.
Whether you are looking for better services, more transparent pricing, are migrating to a new host, are looking to consolidate your domains, or are undergoing a major rebrand, transferring a domain is incredibly easy.
The biggest domain registrars on the market today are usually first web hosting providers so choosing to move your domain to a new registrar will most times, also mean improving the performance of your website as a whole and ensuring the best experience for your visitors and customers!
Next Steps: What Now?
- Login to your current registrar
- Check your domain transfer eligibility
- Unlock your domain
- Disable your domain privacy
- Request the Auth code
- Backup your website
- Find the best domain registrar or best web hosting provider
- Initiate the transfer
- Confirm the transfer