Transferring a domain can be an adventure. Learn how to make it less painful.

One of my WordPress colleagues, Kathryn Presner writes an interesting newsletter full of web design tips. Her latest one discusses the process one should take to transfer a domain name from one registrar to another:

First, avoid doing a domain transfer when you’re very close to your renewal date. Give yourself lots of time, just in case something goes awry. A month is great ā€“ two weeks should be doable. A week is really cutting it close.

Be sure the domain is unlocked before starting the process, or your transfer will be denied. Domains are usually kept locked to prevent unauthorized transfers, so when you’re ready to initiate a transfer make sure to go into your domain control panel and unlock it.

Make sure the contact email in your current account is up-to-date. Much of the transfer process relies on email notifications at every step, and if you’re not getting notifications at the right address, it throws a huge wrench into the works. On the flip side, some registrars will deny a transfer if you’ve changed any registrant details within a few months of renewal, so be sure to look through your registrar’s transfer FAQ before changing any contact information.

For most types of domains, you will need a special code from your current registrar. Because nothing is simple in the world of domain transfers, the code goes by many different names: EPP, authorization code, AuthInfo code, transfer key, transfer secret, and so on. Not only that, but simply locating it may not be obvious! You may have to look around for a while to find it ā€“ and take note that some registrars provide it directly in your control panel, while others will only email it to you. Again, if you get stuck, your registrar’s transfer FAQ may provide clues.

Keep an eye on your email after you’ve submitted the transfer request
and when you get an email from your new registrar, be sure to choose the option to accept the transfer. You should also get an email from your old registrar and/or see a note in your control panel that a transfer is pending, at which point you can manually approve the transfer by logging into your control panel and clicking in the right place. If you don’t complete both these steps, your transfer will be either delayed by several days or blocked entirely.

Make a note of any services you may be using from your current registrar, such as domain parking, forwarding, email, custom DNS, or others. You will need to ensure that your new registrar offers the same services, and then once the transfer goes through, set up the equivalent services again. Be aware that there may be a time lag between when a service stops at your old registrar and when you can re-start it at your new registrar.

I know it seems like a lot to remember. Once you’ve done this a few times, it does go faster, but it’s always a bit of a rigamarole. Good luck to all in your domain-transfer adventures!

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