Transferring Domains to us...
Domains you previously registered with other services can be transferred into your SOS account and then managed like any other domains with us. A domain transfer won't affect your website in any way:
- your hosted website will not be down, even for an instant
- you can stay with your current website host, if you want
A transfer is the equivalent of a one year renewal -- so a full 12 months will be added to the current expiration date. You can transfer domains to us at any time, BUT DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE DOMAIN IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE to start the transfer process! Transferring is a short process, not a one step event, so plan ahead.
At a minimum, every domain transfer involves two registrars (the losing registrar and the gaining registrar), one Registry (.com, .net, .org, etc.), and the domain owner. Naturally, safeguards have been built into the Registry transfer system to make sure that domains are not transferred without the documented authorization of the domain owner. That complicates the process just a little. But without the safeguards, some people would steal domains by submitting transfer orders for domains they don't own!
For Easy Transfers, Prepare!
To successfully transfer a domain, there are just four things to consider in advance. Once they're handled, the actual transfer process is quite simple. For each domain:
- Make sure it has not yet expired _AND_ that it is at least 60 days old
- Make sure it is "unlocked"
- Make sure the whois Registrant and Administrative Contact email addresses are a good ones *** SEE CAUTION BELOW
- Obtain the special transfer "auth code" password for that domain, and pass it on to us.
That's it. If those four things are handled, it's just a matter of submitting a transfer order and then authorizing the transfer.
Domain Transfer Details...
Here are the details for each of the four items.
1. Expired? Expired domains cannot be transferred. If your domain has expired, you need to renew it with the current provider. Then you can transfer it to us after 60 days.
2. Locked or Unlocked? Domains are often kept locked to prevent unapproved transfers to new registrars. If you look up your domain in the whois,
- unlocked domains generally say "STATUS:OK".
- locked domains may show the STATUS as any or all of these: "CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED, CLIENT RENEW PROHIBITED, CLIENT TRANSER PROHIBITED, CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED". If you see any of these in the whois for your domain, then you must get it changed. You may be able to do that in the domain's control panel, or you may need to contact the current provider.
3. Whois Contacts? While in the whois, be sure to check the Administrative Contact e-mail address. Here's the reason. In order to transfer any domain for you, we're required to document that we have been authorized to transfer that specific domain. To document that authorization, the transfer system sends an e-mail to the whois Registrant and Admin e-mail addresses. The email message contains a special link to authorize that specific transfer. Therefore, it's very important that the whois has a current email address for someone who will dependably watch for and reply to the authorization e-mail.
***CAUTION: There is a new rule now that Registrars can lock your domain for 60 days if you change the Whois Registrant information. Be careful! You may see an option to opt out of that lock, but you must accept that option BEFORE you make the change in Registrant information.
4. The "EPP Auth Code"! Every domain now has one, although it's sometimes referred to by other similar names. It is a special transfer password. A domain can't be transferred without it. You may be able to get it from the current domain control panel, or you may need to contact your current provider. Quite often, there is an automated system which can be triggered to send it to the whois Registant e-mail address. Again, if the whois contact addresses are current, then the auth code is easy to get, one way or another. ((SPECIAL NOTE - you often can't see the whois Registrant e-mail address in the whois, so you have to look in the contact section of the domain control panel to see it and change it, if necessary.))
NOTE - Our system will allow you submit domains for transfer without the auth codes, but we can't process your order until we have the auth codes for each domain in the order. You can e-mail them to our support address when you have them.
For Your Information...
Here are the actual steps in any domain transfer from one registrar to another:
- the domain owner submits a transfer order to the gaining registrar along with an auth code for each domain
- the gaining registrar sends a confirmation e-mail to the whois Registrant and Administrative Contact email addresses
- the Registrant/Admin replies to the e-mail, authorizing or denying the transfer
- upon receiving the authorization, the gaining registrar submits the transfer request to the proper Registry
- the Registry passes the transfer request to the losing Registrar, starting a 5 - 6 day timeframe for action
- the losing registrar typically e-mails the Registrant/Admin asking if it should allow or deny the transfer
- if the transfer is not explicitly denied, the transfer occurs automatically when the timeframe runs out (most transfers do time out and then transfer)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Once a domain transfer is in progress (meaning the Registry has submitted it to the losing registrar), NOTHING about the domain can be changed. The means that you can't change the whois contact information, the nameservers, or anything else. It also means that the domain will not expire and stop working if the expiration date is reached while the transfer is in progress. If the transfer is ultimately successful, then a year is added to the expiration date and all is well. If it fails for some reason, then the domain has to be renewed with the current registrar.
Domain Transfers Away...
If you want to transfer from us (but then, why would you?!) to another registrar, you need to contact us to unlock your domain and trigger the system to send the auth code to the whois registrant email address. However, be sure that you read the pitfalls below.
Are you SURE?
Please be aware that many website hosts will tell you that the first step in hosting your website is to transfer your domain to their account with their Registrar. That's totally unnecessary, and may not be in your best interest.
At some point, you're likely to leave that host for a new one - perhaps in as little as a week, if things don't work out. You never expect that, but it happens. What then? You've just transferred your domain to their account with their registrar, and it's time to move again. Now you need their cooperation to unlock the domain and get the auth code password from an unfamiliar registrar. Even if they set up your own account with their registrar, you're still in an uncomfortable position.
You're Safe Staying With Us...
When changing website hosts, you have the alternative to leave your domain right here with us. All you do is ask your new host what nameserver names your domain needs to have. Once you have those names, like
you (or we) put them into your domain control panel ---- and that's it. It takes minutes. It's free It accomplishes the same thing as the domain transfer. But with one big difference - YOU continue to have complete control of your domain through our system.
Here's what's happening - DNS...
When the nameserver names are entered into any domain control panel, DNS records are created that point that domain's traffic directly to the host's network - which is controlled by their nameservers.
The DNS records created are exactly the same, regardless of which registrar creates them - us or them.
So, if you do it in our domain control panel, your new host gains complete control over the functioning and management of your domain, website and email. But you retain control of the domain itself. In minutes, you could change the nameservers at any time to point it to another host.
You control the domain with us. Your host totally manages it for you through their nameservers.
So the question is...
If you're happy with our service, why would you transfer your domain to a new registrar just because you're moving to a new host? We appreciate your business and we'll be here when you need us...