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Transferring Private Domains

And keeping it private

2:47 pm on Oct 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 14, 2003
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I was just informed by my current registrar that I would have to cancel the privacy on my domain before I would be able to transfer away to a new registrar.

Surely, I thought, this would mean that my details would be published on the WHOIS record for a short period until it was safely registered as private again with my new registrar - so I asked them how exactly am I supposed to keep a domain private throughout the transfer process.

The reply I received is ....

"I am sorry, it is not possible to transfer a privately registered domain. The private registration must be cancelled first. Additionally, cancelling private registration makes changes to all of the domain contacts. Company policy prohibits domain transfers for 60 days following updates to the domain contacts. I apologize for any inconvenience."

Don't know if it is alright to mention the registrar concerned - but I find this a bit crazy.

Effectively, it means that if you want a private domain to stay TOTALLY private, you will have to stay with the same registrar for life.

Unless I have misunderstood.

Anyone else experienced this problem with the registrar concerned (I think you can guess who I'm talking about!)

1:58 am on Oct 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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You could use a third-party privacy service. There are some that are not associated with a registrar.

You could have an attorney act as agent.

Or, you could simply get a P.O. Box, a voice-mail phone number, and use a company name rather than your personal name. (Of course, the company name would be traceable.)

The latter is what I've elected to do with all of my domains. It's cheaper than paying for privacy service on a number of domains. If you can get one (they are in short supply at many post offices) a U.S. Post Office Box (as opposed to a private one) is a great bargain. And voice-mail numbers are practically free.

I don't have any need to hide my ownership - just don't want nutcases showing up on my doorstep. Especially with the "about us" wiki scraper sites that are popping-up like mad that also scrape your WHOIS info, and plot it on a convenient Google map!

I recently moved some domains from one registrar to another, where they had been using a privacy feature. I just changed the info to the P.O. box and voicemail before transfering. I didn't have the 60-day problem, as the losing registrar didn't have that restriction.

Of course, there is no such thing as totally private anyway. You are required to give your registrar accurate information, and they are required to release it under legal discovery or subpeona.

Although I have used a privacy service in the past, I now think that looks scammy, and I think it would be completely fair for search engines to penalize sites for using them. (Particularly, say, for e-commerce sites.) Not saying that they do - but that I would think it legit if they did, and think that perhaps they should.

It seems you do not need to put a personal name as registrant or in any of the contact roles - look at the WHOIS info for major sites. You will see "Web Master", "Domain Administrator", etc.

3:49 am on Oct 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Ditto what jtara explained. Essentially registrars have to be able to "see" what the domain name's WHOIS details appear in order to send the authorization email to the one on record for approval.

If you don't want your actual details shown, your next best option is to input another series of contact info. A PO Box, your business details, etc.

The important field is the registrant name. The registrant field must show a legally existing entity, one that could possibly withstand challenge if ever disputed.

And of course, you need a valid email address to receive all and any relevant email.

One of my domain names is using a 3rd party's privacy service. I input the org name they instructed me to put in and use their "throw away" email address to forward emails sent to it to my actual one.

4:38 am on Oct 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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joined:Apr 3, 2002
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I had this same problem and found it absurd that in the domain and privacy agreement the registrars say that by paying for privacy you have all the features of non privacy. Which explicitly includes, "transfers".

First they tell you can't do it, because you won't receive the transfer email, (which is bs) since you can forward all the emails of private domains, then they will tell you that even if you can forward the email, it can't work because their system is not setup to transfer private domains, even though it is in the contract. (I plainly told them that it was not my problem that they are offering a service that their system is not setup for)

Anyways, after battling and wasting enough time trying to deal with the registrar, I changed the domains to a "webmaster name" for a couple of days and transferred all the domains to the new registrar. Call my cc company and got back the money for the privacy I had been paying for the last year.

When they asked me about the contract, I sent it. No worries. It was not my preferred method but the registrar did not really offer me choice.

6:06 pm on Oct 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 14, 2003
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Thanks for the advice.

I only have 1 private domain - I think I will just leave it where it is and transfer away my standard registered domains only.

I don't think I will bother in future with private reg - I have over 50 normally registered domains and I've only been spammed a couple of times in the last few years.

The only reason this 1 domain is private is because it is an antispam site - I figured there might be a slight risk of spammer revenge :-)