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Address in WHOIS and Ownership

Address in WHOIS and Ownership

10:42 pm on Oct 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

New User

5+ Year Member

joined:Oct 18, 2010
votes: 0

Hello all! :-)

I'm looking for a solution where my home address does not show up in the WHOIS fields and I, at the same time, retain full ownership so that I can sell the domain with all the servers and code should I decide to do so. It's actually not domain parking or anything like that, but a real project of mine that is behind the domain.

The WHOIS Guard and private registration features of many registrars didn't impress me, since you don't really retain full ownership.

I cannot easily register a PO box in the US, since I'm not a US citizen and live outside the US. And doing it locally has its own pitfalls and difficulties.

I was finally intrigued by a couple of US companies offering relatively cheap and (for me) affordable mail forwarding to outside the US. For example, with these I'd get a real street address (the one of that company) and mail could be sent to me like this:

My Real First and Last Name
123 Street of Company #MyMailID
City of Company, State of Company ZIP
United States

They'd open or forward all my mail and send it to my real home address. I would have to give them an ID (Passport, etc) to prove it's really me and fill out a form that permits them to collect my mail.

Now my questions:

When, exactly, do I own the domain according to ICANN? If I use an address like the above for my domain registration, admin & tech contacts in WHOIS, etc, would I lawfully, technically and in the eyes of ICANN own the domain? Note that my first and last name, telephone number, and email address would still be mine. Only my address isn't my personal home address, but the one of the mail forwarding company.

If a dispute arises or if it is ever in doubt that I am the owner of the domain, would it suffice to show the registration papers with the mail forwarding company and proof that I'm the owner of that mail inbox and hence also the owner of the domain?

Is there a legal loophole, the mail forwarding company or anyone else might exploit? Like, arguing that since I'm not really a US citizen and do not really physically live at this address, I'm not the owner of the domain (but e.g. the mail forwarding company or the registrar itself or no one else)?

I'd really be intrigued how ICANN defines ownership and if I'd actually own the domain if I go along with this. Personally, I still think I'd own the domain, since there is IMHO no reason why ICANN wouldn't respect the right of an individual to hire a company to do mail forwarding/sorting/junk filtering, and my name, email, and telephone is still there. But since I'm not really sure, I'm asking here.

Any hints and insights are highly appreciated,
Tim :-)
5:04 pm on Oct 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

joined:June 3, 2007
votes: 0

I'd really be intrigued how ICANN defines ownership and if I'd actually own the domain

Hi Tim Welcome to WebmasterWorld

You do realise that you never actually "own" a domain name, that you are simply renting it from whichever registry?

How much help I can be I'm not too sure however I have run a business from a PO Box in the UK for more than 30 years, all my domains are registered using my company as the Orginisation and myself as the Administrative, Technical and Billing contacts.

I control what I do through my registrars control panel, no one else has access to it and any changes to anything with any domain automatically is sent to my e-mail address, no where else.

I use 5 different registrars, for different country ccTLDs etc if you were wondering, and all of them operate in the same way, and all of them automatically notify me when domains are due for renewal.

Does that help?
9:56 am on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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joined:Oct 18, 2010
votes: 0

Thanks for your reply. And yes, it does help.

But the original question, whether I (and not the mailforwarding company) would still the holder of the domain remains unanswered.

With WHOIS guards the registrar takes over as the domain holder. ICANN specifically says that the contact in the WHOIS database is the holder/registrant of the domain.
7:11 am on Oct 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Aug 1, 2003
votes: 0

There's no requirement for the contact address on (.com) domain registrations to be your home address, it's merely an address you can be contacted at.

All my domains show my real name, at mail forwarding services, with valid email addresses and a working phone number that is forwarded to me. My name is the domain owner, not the address used.

I use mail forwarding services in a couple of countries outside the US, neither of them countries I actually live in. It's probably best to avoid the US, as that's the country most likely to get speculative lawsuits and larger volumes of junk mail, as well as having the most paperwork (and least privacy) for mail receiving services.
11:57 am on Oct 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

New User

5+ Year Member

joined:Oct 18, 2010
votes: 0

Thanks for your reply.

Which country and service would you recommend, in particular?
11:58 am on Oct 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

New User

5+ Year Member

joined:Oct 18, 2010
votes: 0

And, what do you mean by "speculative lawsuits"? Can you elaborate on this, please?

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