Everything you need to know about domain names and where to start.

I regularly receive requests from my customers to “look into” a domain name renewal notice they receive in the mail or email.

Researching this question is easy. Here are the steps to take and what to do if action is needed.

Step 1: Ignore the notification.

What I mean by that is do not use anything on the notice to start your search. Instead, visit third-party sites that can look up and report on your domain. Sites like Whois.com, Domaintools.com, or even GoDaddy.com are among a few you can use. This is public information and is free for the looking. The key to using these sites is to stay focused. You are looking for the WHO IS portion of the site. Once you reach the Who Is search page, key in your complete domain name and run the search. The results will tell you everything you need to know including:

  • Domain name creation date
  • Domain name expiration date
  • The Registrar (the entity used to secure the domain)
  • The Registrant (the true owner of the domain)

Note: Not all records will be displayed on all WhoIs sites. Also, if the domain has Private Registration you will not be able to see the Registrant info (name, address, etc.). If this is the case, visit the website of the Registrar where your domain was originally secured to request more information.

If the Expiration Date is nearing – or past – you need to take action. If not, you are fine and can discard that notification/solicitation.

Step 2: Take action to keep your domain.

Once you have researched the Who Is record and determine you need to renew it, the next question is how? There are a few scenarios I will cover that will apply to most.

Scenario 1: Visit the Registrar website

From the Who Is record you will know what website is in control of your domain name. If you have the Account information (user name and password) you can gain access to your account and following their instructions for renewing.

Scenario 2: Renew from your website host

Did you register the domain when you setup your hosting? Many companies make it easy to register a domain when creating a website hosting program. If this was the case, simply return to your hosting control panel and search out the domain section to renew.

Scenario 3: Steps to take if you did not originally register the domain

If you were not the one who originally registered the domain you may not have access to the Registrar directly. This may be the case if someone else, like a website designer or hosting company, did it on your behalf.

The Registrant is the true owner of a domain name.

In this case, contact the source who originally registered the domain for you and have them renew it on your behalf or log into your hosting account to do it yourself.

Do you really own your Domain?

If you or your company is not listed as the Registrant, you do not own the domain.

Technically no one owns a domain name, you kinda lease it, but I digress.

If this is the case, it is highly recommended that you contact the current Registrant to learn what your options are to gain control of the domain name. If that is not an option, then go to the website that is listed as the Registry and reach out for assistance. There are steps that can be taken to regain control of a domain name but it is not easy.

Did you find this helpful? Do you have a domain name horror story? Please let us know by leaving a comment. We love hearing from you all!