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Domain Transfer Process Overview

A domain name transfer is the process of moving a domain name registration from one registrar (the Losing Registrar) to another (the Gaining Registrar), and involves numerous checks and balances to ensure that only the authorized owned of the domain name can allow transfer. A domain name transfer can also involve a change of ownership of the domain name, but this is not always the case.

All registrars of .com/.net/.org/.info and .biz domain names follow the transfer rules set down in ICANN's Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy. Even though all registrars of these domain name extensions are following the same rules, the procedures and terminology used by each registrar can vary.

This document provides an overview of the rules and processes involved in the standard domain name transfer process so that you will find it easier to carry out domain name transfers both into and out of the Fabulous registry.

For detailed instructions on how to carry out transfers within your Fabulous account, please see our guides:

  • How to transfer a domain name into Fabulous
  • How to transfer a domain name out of Fabulous
  • Transfer status glossary

Domain Transfer Process, Summary:

Step 1 Check that the domain name meets all transfer criteria
Step 2 Remove the Registrar-Lock from the domain name and obtain an authorization code from the Losing Registrar
Step 3 Submit a transfer request at the Gaining Registrar, using the authorization code
Step 4 The Gaining Registrar obtains approval from the current owner of the domain name
Step 5 The Gaining Registrar submits a transfer order to the Central Registry, which is passed on to the Losing Registrar
Step 6 The owner can manually approve or cancel the transfer, otherwise it will be automatically approved after a waiting period of 5 days
Step 7 The domain name is transferred from the Losing Registrar to the Gaining Registrar



Domain Transfer Process, Expanded:


Step 1: Check that the domain name meets all transfer criteria
Numerous criteria must be satisfied before you can begin the domain name transfer process:

  1. The domain name must not be within 60 days of its initial registration or within 60 days of being transferred from another registrar. This is an ICANN regulation designed to reduce the incidence of fraudulent transactions.
    • Note: Some registrars also disallow the transfer of a domain name within 60 days of the WHOIS contact information being updated, however this is not an ICANN regulation; it is simply an additional security measure.
  2. The domain name must not be more than 30 days past its expiry date. 30 days after a domain name expires it enters a 30 day Redemption Grace Period; during this period a domain name must be restored by the current registrar before transfer can take place. After the 30 day Redemption Grace Period a domain name goes into Pending Delete status, at which point it can not be restored.
    • Note: Some registrars disallow the transfer of domain names that have expired. This is not an ICANN regulation; this is a registry specific rule.
  3. The domain name’s Administrative WHOIS contact email address must be up to date and functional. During the transfer process, an "Authorization for Registrar Transfer" email is sent to the Administrative WHOIS contact’s email address. If the domain name owner does not respond to this email, the domain name cannot be transferred.
  4. The domain name must not be subject to any special locks or holds. All domain names are set to Registrar-Lock status by default, to ensure that they cannot be transferred, modified or deleted by an unauthorized party. You should be able to easily remove the Registrar-Lock status from a domain name within your customer administration interface at the Losing Registrar. However, if a domain name is subject to additional locks, you may not be able to remove the Registrar-Lock. Some reasons an additional lock may be applied to a domain name include:
    • The domain owner has requested additional security measures such as an ‘Executive Lock’, which can only be removed after strict conditions are met.
    • The domain name is subject to legal dispute, and is locked by the registrar.
    • The domain name is on hold due to payment owed for a previous registration period.



Step 2: Remove the Registrar-Lock from the domain name and obtain an authorization code from the Losing Registrar

All domain names are set to Registrar-Lock status by default, to ensure that they cannot be transferred, modified or deleted by an unauthorized party. You should be able to easily remove the Registrar-Lock status from a domain name within your customer administration interface at the Losing Registrar. When the Registrar-Lock has been removed, the domain name will be Active status.

At this stage, you need to obtain the authorization code for the domain name. This is a unique code generated on a per-domain basis, which is used to authorize a transfer request. Some registrars will provide customers with the ability to create and administer their own authorization codes, while others will ask customers to contact the Registrar directly to obtain it.

When you unlock a domain name, the Losing Registrar will contact the Central Registry to update the status of your domain name, including the authorization code.



Step 3: Submit a transfer request at the Gaining Registrar, using the authorization code

Now that the domain name is unlocked and you have obtained the authorization code, you can initiate a transfer request for the domain name.

Within your account at the Gaining Registrar, that is, the registrar you would like to move the domain name registration to, you should be provided with a facility to enter the domain name you wish to transfer and the corresponding authorization code.

The Gaining Registrar will then contact the Central Registry to check that the status of the domain name is Active, and to verify that the authorization code provided is correct.



Step 4: The Gaining Registrar obtains approval from the current owner of the domain name.

Now that the Gaining Registrar has confirmed that it is authorized to initiate a transfer request, it needs to obtain approval from the current registered owner of the domain name before submitting a registry transfer request to the Losing Registrar.

The Gaining Registrar will check with the Central Registry to ascertain the details of the Losing Registrar, then query the Losing Registrar’s WHOIS database directly through a designated port (43) in order to retrieve the Administrative Contact email address for the domain name.

The Losing Registrar will send a transfer authorization email to the Administrative Contact for the domain. This email will contain instructions on how to approve the transfer – this is usually achieved by asking the domain owner to click on a unique link, signifying their approval. The Losing Registrar must receive a response to this email to continue with the transfer of a domain name.



Step 5: The Gaining Registrar submits a transfer order to the Central Registry, which is passed on to the Losing Registrar

Once approval has been obtained, the Gaining Registrar sends an official transfer order to the Central Registry.

Domain Registrars connect to the Central Registry on a regular schedule to send and receive information about domain names. When the Losing Registrar connects to the Central Registry, it will receive the transfer order.



Step 6: The owner can manually approve or cancel the transfer, otherwise it will be automatically approved after a waiting period of 5 days.

At this stage, there is a 5-day grace period, during which the domain owner or the Losing Registrar can cancel the transfer. A domain owner can cancel a domain name transfer at this stage for any reason (there should be a facility within the domain owner’s customer administration facility to do this), but the Losing Registrar can only legitimately deny a domain name transfer under specific circumstances outlined ICANN's Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy.

Most registrars also provide a facility for domain owners to give express permission for the transfer to go through before this grace period is finished.




Step 7: The domain name is transferred from the Losing Registrar to the Gaining Registrar

If the domain name owner gives express permission for the transfer to proceed, or if the transfer order is not cancelled/denied within 5 days, the Central Registry automatically transfers the domain name to the Gaining Registrar.

The Central Registry will issue an email report to the Losing Registrar, the Gaining Registrar, the old Administrative Contact and the new Administrative Contact confirming the transfer.

The WHOIS record for the domain name should now reflect the Gaining Registrar as the Registrar or record.