In this era of online transactions and Internet-based trade, very few fields are left out when it comes to transferring ownership of something, with domains being no exception. There are a plethora of reasons why you might want to buy or sell a domain to another party, whether that be because your business is opening or closing, or even just because you want to upgrade your marketing platforms. Regardless of the reason, this situation can be a common one, while at the same time being extremely daunting. Usually, the anxiety from transferring domain ownership to someone else stems from one simple thing–not knowing how to do it properly. In this article, the practical steps and best practices for this transaction are going to be fleshed out and laid bare so that when this scenario does come your way, your understanding of the process will throw anxiety and hesitation right out the window.

For the sake of consistency, this article is written from the point of view of someone selling their domain name and transferring it over to someone else. That being said, if you are the one who the domain being transferred to, just know that these are the steps that the other party is following through the process. Keep in mind that steps may vary depending on what platform you are using, such as 101domain or another credible registrar, but for the most part, they will stay relatively similar.

Preliminary Steps

Jumping right in, the first step that you are going to want to take is making sure that you and the buyer are on the same page with everything. That means that price has already been negotiated (if the process is a transaction) and all parties have agreed to the terms set forth. Also, just as a precaution to ensure that all parties are respected, it is important to check how much time you have left on your domain name, being as most domains are maintained through a subscription. Usually, etiquette says that the seller will finish out the term that the subscription has set, with the buyer then opening up a new one when that period ends.

Another thing that you may want to check off your list before you begin the process is ensuring that the domain’s current owner (you) has an up-to-date email. Throughout this transition, the registrar may need to get ahold of one of the parties, and since changing your email within your registrar may result in a short-term lock on transferring domain ownership, it is important that your email is up-to-date long before you begin these steps. 

First Step: Disabling WHOIS

Now that you have a baseline set and an agreement established, the process of actually transferring the domain to the other person finally begins. In order for the new registrar to accept the new domain ownership, they will need to know who is currently in charge of the domain. For them to have access to that information, you are going to need to disable WHOIS domain privacy. This is just an extension that allows you to keep certain information private when it comes to who owns the domain, but for this process, you will need to have this made public and accessible to the registrar.

Step Two: Unlock Your Domain

Next on the agenda, you are going to want to unlock your domain. This lock is placed on domain transference so that the chances of a domain being stolen or used illegally are drastically lowered. That being said, if you plan on doing it the legal way and you know you are not dealing with a thief, removing this lock is a requirement before moving on in the process. Oftentimes, it is managed via simple settings that are located in your management platform and can be changed with a couple of clicks after logging into your account.

Step Three: Transfer Authorization Code

After you have completed the process of unlocking your domain, the next step is to locate your transfer authorization code. This is a code that should only be available to the current owner of the domain name (you). Depending on the registrar, it may be in different locations of your registrar’s platform. When it doubt, your best option is to simply get in touch with your registrar and discuss where you might be able to find this. Keep in mind, there may be different names being used for this specific type of password, such as “EPP key,” “secret code,” or “auth code.”

Step Four: Actions On The Buyer’s Part

After that is done, the buyer begins to fulfill their role in the transaction. They will need to log into the account they have with their registrar and submit a domain transfer request. This step is a relatively easy one since it is a common operation and registrars will usually put it in an easily-accessible area of their website. Basically, the buyer will just type in the name of the domain that they would like to request a transfer for and submit it. Oftentimes, you may be required to purchase the next leg of the subscription before the current one is finished, but this is simply a precautionary requirement to make sure that payment continues and all problems are ironed out in the interim.

Step Five: Finalization

After the buyer submits the request, the ball now rolls back into the current owner’s court. Almost immediately after the request is submitted, an email should be sent to the email on file for the current owner about the request. The current owner will approve it and then the process is almost complete. After that email is received and accepted, you will log into the account that you have with your registrar and check your messages. If there are any new ones discussing the transaction or transition of ownership, it is important to read those and ensure that you have accepted everything that you need to accept. Once that is done, the transfer is in the hands of the registrar itself, so your part is the process is essentially completed.

Looking at the steps, the transfer process to another person is a relatively straightforward one. That being said, if you have any questions or concerns that may not have been covered in this article, speaking directly with your chosen registrar will often mitigate, if not completely clear up, issues up right away. An important thing to note is that this transfer is between two people, not computers, so keeping good documentation and tracking the process is very beneficial, especially if any legal conflicts rise out of it. It’s unlikely that this will occur, but being safe is always far better than being sorry. Besides that, if you follow these basics steps within this article and remember that your registrar is there to help you through this process, your transfer should be both quick and worry-free.