If you run a website, at some point you will need to transfer domains to another registrar. This is true no matter how advanced you are, whether you're a student, enthusiast, or business owner. In the past, this was a bothersome process with plenty of horror stories involving sore losers (old registrars). It's more automated today. Follow along to see how easy a domain transfer truly is today.
Is transferring a domain universal across all registrars? For the most part, yes. There will be a few differences, including interface actions and locations, but the main process is the same. For this article though, I will be transferring a domain from Namecheap to Google Domains.
Important Security Tip
Before we get started I want to mention an important security bit, well, two actually.
Only register or transfer your domain with registrars you trust. Don't choose a fly-by-night registrar, choose one that has been around for a while and is generally trusted. The cheapest one isn't always better. Besides, we're talking like $3 of potential savings a year anyway. Otherwise, they may be a little loose with any domains you own, dragging you and your website's reputation down. This happened with one of my bigger inactive domains. It was autoparked with some naughty imagery. Making money on me at the risk of me losing everything? No thanks.
Keep your domains with a separate company than your hosting. If your host and registrar are with the same company and their servers go down, you can be in a world of hurt. This happened to me when I was with Godaddy several years ago. They had server trouble and EVERYTHING was down, all web properties and services for me and my clients. Since they controlled my files and my DNS, I couldn't just stand them up at a temporary host while they were fixing the issues. That was not a good month for me. This isn't just a one time thing or just a Godaddy thing. This has happened several times before with other companies. Don't risk it!
Transfer Domain Procedure
1. Under Domain List or Dashboard, go to domain in question and click on Details link or Manage button.
Make sure the domain isn't new or recently transferred. At least 60 days need to have passed for either one.
2. Click on Sharing & Transfer.
3. Scroll down and click the Unlock link under Transfer Out.
4. After you see the Domain unlocked successfully message, click on the Auth Code button.
The domain lock or registrar lock is a security feature that prevents unauthorized domain transfers. Keep your domain yours. This feature is enabled by default with nearly all registrars. You only need to turn this off when you initiate a transfer. Make sure it's locked with your new registrar after the transfer is complete.
After you unlock your domain to be ready to transfer, you need an auth code, sometimes called an EPP code, to provide to your new registrar. Auth codes, like domain locks, are an additional protection measure to make sure you are the only person able to transfer your domain. Auth/EPP codes are specifically required for these TLDs:
- and other new gTLD, country codes
This code is unique, like a secure password you'll see in a password manager. It's assigned by the registrar at the time of registration. Which leads to your next question, “If this auth code is like a password, should I even give this out?” No you shouldn't, unless you are transferring your domain to another registrar like I'm writing about here. Then you provide the code to the new registrar in their automated transfer domain process.
If your host asks you for your domain's auth code, tell them no. If they say that providing the auth code is the only way to verify the domain in order to tie the host account to the domain, then find a new host. If verification is necessary (this is not typical for hosting, just point your domain via an A record [and maybe a CNAME] and voila), there are other methods in which you can do this, like changing your nameserver.
5. Fill out as much as you need to here, then click the Send Code button.
6. The confirmation alert is under the domain sub-navigation menu. You'll have to scroll back up to see it.
7. Check your email for the authorization code. This email will be sent to your registrant email:
Requested Authorization Code for [DOMAIN]
Please find the requested transfer Authorization Code for your domain listed below.
The transfer Authorization Code (sometimes referred to as EPP or Authorization Key) is a security key generated by the current Registrar and verified through the global registries.These codes are updated periodically for security reasons, thus this key will only be valid for a limited time.
Your Authorization Code is: [LONG RANDOM CHARACTER CODE]
For Domain: [DOMAIN]
This is an automated response to provide your Authorization Code, please do not reply to this email.
8. Go to Google Domains Transfer page.
9. Type your domain in the search field.
10. If you've followed along in the steps, you'll see information about your current registrar, the cost to transfer, the lock status, and authorization code field.
After the transfer at the new registrar is initiated and the auth code is provided, the transfer will be initiated at the Registry level. Registrar has 5 days to release your domain(s) per ICANN Transfer Policy.
11. Enter authorization code into the field.
12. Click the Continue button.
13. Review web settings.
I'd recommend you select the Copy and let Google manage my DNS settings (recommended) option. You can always make changes if you need to later. The good thing about managing DNS with Google is the DNS changes will propagate quickly.
14. Click the Continue button.
15. Review the Configure registration settings information.
You don't have to wait until time is nearly expired, you won't loose any time by transferring now. The renewal date stays the same.
16. Keep Privacy protection on and Auto-renew on.
These are invaluable security features.
17. Click on the Proceed to checkout button.
18. Review contact information to make sure it's correct or setup contact information if this is your first domain with Google.
There's also a reminder here about Privacy protection.
19. Review purchase information and payment method or setup payment method if this is your first checkout with Google.
20. Click the Buy button.
21. You'll now see the domain show up in your My domains page, near the top, listed as Pending.
Google now asks your previous registrar to release the domain. It could take up to a week and they may contact you for approval.
Here's the email Namecheap sent to notify me about the transfer authorization:
Domain [DOMAIN] transfer confirmation request
STANDARDIZED FORM OF AUTHORIZATION
DOMAIN NAME TRANSFER – Confirmation of Registrar Transfer Request
Attention: WhoisGuard Protected
Re: Transfer of [DOMAIN]
received notification on [DATE] at [TIME] that you have requested a transfer to another domain registrar.
If you WANT TO PROCEED with this transfer, you do not need to respond to this message. If you WISH TO CANCEL the transfer, please go to our website.
If we do not hear from you by [DATE] (5 days) at [TIME], the transfer will proceed.
If you have any questions about this process, please contact email@example.com
That's it. The whole process takes a week, but the actual hands on stuff is 10 minutes depending on email speed, and whether you know your DNS information. Pretty simple.
What do you have to add to transferring domains? The best registrars? The worst experiences? Let me know in the comments below.