The domain name is arguably the single most important element of a website, which is why it’s important to have complete ownership over it. Unfortunately, however, it’s not uncommon for inexperienced bloggers and webmasters to allow their web designer to register the domain name for them. This may not cause any immediate problems, but it can lead to some severe heartache later down the road.
The biggest problem associated with third-party domain registrations is the potential for losing control of the domain. Even if you are the rightful owner of the domain, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) may see it differently. Under ICANN’s strict terms and conditions, the owner of a domain is the person listed under its WHOIS information. Assuming you allowed your web designer or some other third-party to register your domain name, their name — not yours — could be listed under the WHOIS.
Take for example Reva, who according to the domain registrar Dynadot.com lost control of five of her six domains when she forget her account password and email credentials. Reva reportedly contacted the company to regain control of her domains, but due to the ICANN’s policy regarding domain ownership, her request was denied.
“When Reva lost her password and then lost access to her email account, she could no longer renew her domains, manage her nameservers, or make other modifications to her account. It ended up being a big headache having to validate her identity to the registrar in order to regain control of her account. To make matters worse, due to ICANN’s policy of recognizing only the Whois Registrant as the legally-entitled domain holder, Reva eventually lost control over the five domains registered under the name of her web designer,” wrote the Dynadot staff.
Not Sure Who Owns Your Domain?
If you aren’t sure who your domain name is registered to, you can perform a WHOIS search. Enter your full domain name in the search box and it will return who it is registered to, the admin contact and tech contact (unless the registrant has opted to remain private).
What should you do if your domain name is already registered under a web designer or some other third-party? Contact the person or company listed under the domain’s WHOIS and ask them to initiate a transfer. If you are truly the rightful owner of the domain, he or she should have no problem handing it over. If the domain name is registered at GoDaddy, check the Q&A page here for more information. If it’s registered elsewhere, contact the registrar to learn more about account transfers.
Have you ran into problems with third-party domain registrations? We’d love to hear your story in the comments section below!