Choosing the right domain name is vital for your website's brand recognition. You may have already found the perfect domain name for your website and registered it with an official domain name system (DNS) registrar, but what happens when you want to change who you’re registered with?

In this helpful article, we’ll discuss what a domain name transfer is and why you might want to do it. Plus, we’ll share our handy step-by-step guide to completing a domain name transfer.

What is a domain name transfer?

As the name suggests, a domain name transfer is the process of transferring your domain name from one DNS registrar to another. All domain names must be registered with an official registrar – there’s no other way to buy a domain name.

Your chosen registrar may be a business that deals exclusively in domain names, or they could be a web hosting provider such as ourselves. The best registrar for you will depend on your current domain portfolio, the domain name you’re trying to register and your budget.

Why transfer your domain?

You may come to realise that the registrar you originally chose is no longer the best fit for you. This can be for a number of reasons, including:

1. Price

Money is perhaps the biggest factor influencing domain name transfers. For example, you may have originally chosen a registrar based on a cheap or even free registration, but now you find yourself locked into high renewal rates every year. Or, your registrar may have increased their fees since you started with them.

To find out if you’re getting a good deal, it’s important to compare your registrar with others on the market. Will another registrar offer you the features you want as part of the standard price rather than as add-ons? What are the renewal rates? This can help you decide if you would benefit from transferring your domain name to a new registrar.

2. Features and performance

Another important factor is the features included with domain name registration and your website’s overall performance. To get more customers, registrars will offer a range of extra features either as add-ons or as part of the overall package, including web hosting, email hosting and privacy protection. Are there any features you’d like that aren’t being offered by your current registrar? Is your website taking too long to load? In this case, it may be beneficial for you to switch.

3. Consolidation

If you have a large portfolio of domains, it may be easier for you to manage and keep track of them all if they’re with the same DNS registrar. Pick your favourite current registrar (or a new one) and transfer all other domains to the same place.

4. Domain management

Managing your domains can be time-consuming, especially if you have a large portfolio. To make things easier, you may need a domain registrar that offers easy-to-use features and an intuitive control panel. Plus, if the registrar offers their own extra services (e.g. web hosting or email services) this can ensure seamless integration and a much better user experience.

5. Change of ownership

Have you just sold a domain name? This domain will need to be transferred to its new owner, and you may also decide to transfer it to a new registrar at the same time.

How to transfer your domain name

Now you know why you might want to transfer your domain name, let’s go through the transfer process step-by-step. Make sure you follow all of these steps exactly to keep your website up and running throughout the transfer.

1. Check if your domain name is eligible for transfer

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for managing the domain name system, IP addresses and root servers. According to ICANN rules, you cannot transfer your domain name if it’s been created or transferred within the last 60 days. This is known as the 60-day Change of Registrant lock, and it’s intended to protect you from unauthorised transfers.

So, if you want to transfer your domain name, make sure it’s been more than 60 days since you’ve registered it, transferred it or changed ownership. Otherwise, your transfer request will be denied.

2. Choose a new registrar

Of course, before you can transfer your domain, you’ll need to choose a new ICANN-accredited registrar. Consider your budget and the features you’re looking for. You should also look at both the initial price and the renewal price, as a company that offers free registration could have higher renewal rates that make the overall deal less attractive.

3. Update your contact information

During the domain name transfer process, both your current registrar and your new registrar will need to contact you to get confirmation for the transfer. Usually, this will be in the form of an email, and you must respond within the agreed amount of time if you want your transfer to be processed.

So, before you get started, it’s essential that you check all of your contact details are up to date. Your account details should be easily accessible in your current registrar’s control panel.

4. Set up a backup email

Many DNS registrars provide email hosting in addition to domain name registration. This allows you to send emails from addresses that look like this:

However, once you transfer to a new registrar, these email accounts will typically be deactivated. This can cause a major issue if you’re expecting a confirmation email to approve your domain name transfer.

To solve this issue, we would recommend setting up a backup email address to receive important communications while your transfer is ongoing. Once your account with your new registrar is set up, you’ll be able to set up your new permanent email address.

5. Unlock your domain

Next, you need to unlock your domain. Domains are usually locked by registrars to prevent accidental changes and also to ensure that no unauthorised changes or transfers can be made by hackers hoping to steal your domain. So, if you’re trying to start a transfer, you’ll need to remove the lock first.

You may be able to click an ‘unlock domain’ option in your control panel under ‘Security’ or ‘Domain’. Or, if your registrar doesn’t provide this, you may need to contact them to request manual unlocking.

6. Request an authorisation code

To complete a domain name transfer, you need an authorisation code from your current registrar (or Auth-Code). This code is intended to identify the domain name holder and prevent unauthorised transfers.

Some registrars will allow you to request the authorisation code from the control panel, but otherwise you may have to contact them directly. Your registrar must provide you with a code within five days of your request.

7. Create an account with your new registrar

Once you have your code, you can create an account with your new registrar. Then, once you have an account, you should find their domain transfer page and enter the domain name you’re transferring.

8. Enter the authorisation code

In addition to entering your domain name, you should also enter the authorisation code that you just received from your current registrar. This will begin the transfer in earnest, so make sure you get the code exactly right.

9. Provide confirmation

Next, both your old and your new registrar will contact you to confirm the transfer and your contact details. Make sure your contact details are up to date to receive this confirmation request, and check your emails (including your spam folder) regularly so you don’t miss it.

10. Cancel your old service

Your new registrar may take up to a week to configure your domain and finalise the transfer. Wait until everything is up and running before cancelling your account with your old registrar, as cancelling too early could lead to issues with your website.

After this brief transfer period, everything will be complete! You’ll be set up and ready to go with your new DNS registrar.

Frequently asked questions

How much does it cost to transfer a domain name?

Some registrars may want you to pay for a year of service upfront when you transfer, although many allow you to register for free for the first year. For the transfer itself, you’ll most likely have to pay a transfer fee, which is set by the registrar. Check all of the associated costs before you start a domain name transfer to a new registrar.

How long does a domain transfer take?

Typically, the transfer process will take a few days or up to a week. But if your information is incorrect or your identity can’t be verified, the process could take longer.

What happens when you transfer a domain name?

During the domain transfer process, your nameservers don’t change. This means that your website shouldn’t experience any downtime and things should run as normal.

Why can’t I transfer my domain?

If you're unable to transfer your domain name, this may be because your domain is subject to a 60-day Change of Registrant lock. In this case, you won’t be able to transfer your domain name until 60 days have passed since you last registered, changed or transferred it.

Why has my transfer request been denied?

Again, your transfer request may have been denied because your domain name is subject to a 60-day Change of Registrant lock. Other reasons could include:

  • Your identity cannot be verified
  • Your information is incorrect
  • The domain name owner has objected to the transfer
  • You have outstanding fees to pay
  • There’s evidence of fraud
  • Your domain name is in ‘lock’ status

How do I know who my registrar is?

You can find the name of your registrar by using the ICANN Lookup tool and checking the ‘Registrar Information’ section.

Can I transfer a recently expired domain?

If you’ve allowed your domain name to expire, you may still be able to transfer it if it hasn’t yet been deleted by your current registrar. Registrars have a Redemption Grace Period of up to 60 days before they make your domain available for purchase.

So, if you’re still in the Redemption Grace Period, you should still be able to transfer your domain name. Your registrar cannot deny a transfer of a recently expired domain. However, if the deletion process has begun, the registrar might charge you a redemption fee to restore the domain before it’s transferred.

Does domain name transfer have an impact on my website’s SEO?

If everything goes smoothly, your website should not be negatively affected by a domain name transfer. Issues will only potentially occur if you provide incorrect information, as this could cause delays.

Looking for a new domain registrar? Transfer to Fasthosts to take advantage of 24/7 expert support, complete control over your domain and a range of extra services such as web hosting and website building, all with zero transfer fees.