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How to Transfer a Domain Name

Transferring a domain name from one registrar to another can appear a confusing and complex issue. In reality it's really quite simple after you've gathered a few important pieces of information.

The first step is to find the new "home" for your domain name. There are really only two options here: a domain registrar or a web hosting company which is also a domain registrar. Some registrar's do not offer web hosting services - in these cases when someone tries to reach your site the internet directory system (called DNS) will be contacting them to find out where your website is really located. This is a perfectly viable solution but may not be the lowest cost as there are many web hosts that now also offer domain registrar services as well. This second option will allow you to manage the domain name as well as host your website in one place and often comes at a lower price than separating out the two services. You must decide what is best for you thought for simplicity it is probably easier to just have everything managed at one location.

The second step is to visit your old registrar and obtain your authorization code. This code will be required to give your new registrar the ability to request the domain name transfer. On most registrars this code can be obtained directly by navigating to the proper page. You may need to use your registrars search function and look up "authorization code" or "transfer domain name" to find out where the authorization code is stored. In the worst cases you may even need to contact the registrar to request the code. Once you have this code you are almost ready to initiate the transfer.

The third step in domain transfer is to make sure the domain name is "open" to transfer. Years ago it was really easy to initiate this activity and because of the simple rules domain hijacking was far more common. To help reduce this problem registrars moved to a system which would allow users to set domain names to a "locked" state which would prevent anyone from starting a transfer. If you have a decent registrar this will be the case and you may need to change the "state" of your domain name to allow the transfer to begin. Again this is usually managed right on the same page that you find your domain name but you may need to use their search function and or call the registrar to get help.

Once you have found your new home, found your authorization code, and made sure the domain is "open" for transfer you are ready to initiate the move. The fourth step is to initiate and accept the domain transfer. On your new registrar's site find their domain management or transfer tool. You'll need to enter the name of the domain and then you'll also be asked for the authorization code. Once you've submitted the request you will need to check the email address tied to the domain name - this will most likely be the one you used when you signed up for the domain. If for some reason you no longer have access to that account you are going to have to jump through some hoops to get this step handled.

If you don't have access to that email the fastest way to get this resolved is to call the old registrar and let them know what has happened. If your site isn't a fortune 500 company you'll most likely have an easier time but don't be surprised if resolving this issue takes a bit of time. If you have access to the email things will be simple - you'll most likely just need to click a link in it to "agree" to allow the transfer to begin or possibly you'll receive a code that you'll need to enter somewhere to allow it to begin.

Once you are all done the last thing you'll need to do is make sure everything works after the transfer. The actual transfer will take anywhere from a few hours to many days. If things are done right you won't suffer any downtime for your website but in the worst cases you'll see up to 48 hours of connection issues for some users as their DNS servers are updated with the new information. In our experience there have been very few issues.

In review here are the steps:

1. Find a new registrar or a webhost which offers registrar services
2. Get the authorization code for your domain
3. Make the request
4. Accept the request which was sent to your email
5. Make sure everything works after the transfer

After the domain name is transferred you should be good to go!

If you're still looking for a new registrar we recommend Bluehost - with hosting service you'll also get a free domain name!

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