Domain Transfers and Domain Registrars

Here's my advice about domain transfers: once you've decided to do it, DON'T WAIT. I assumed that whenever I transferred my domain would become my new registration date with the new registrar, but it seems that most registrars will take over the old renewal date (although you have to register for one further year). Not knowing this, I was waiting to "get my money's worth" from the old registration. But if you're with a bad registrar, it's best to get away from them as soon as possible. Especially since you don't know what road blocks - intentional and unintentional - will show up to slow you down.

When I moved back to Toronto in 2006 I had several domains with an American registrar. I didn't have an American credit card anymore, so I wanted to move the domains to a Canadian registrar. But I didn't have a Canadian credit card either, so I located Budgetnames because they were in Toronto and I could walk in and pay cash. They served their purpose, but their interface is poor and their interface to manage subdomains is "Beta, use at your own risk" and has been for over a year. So I wanted to move to Hover, which I use at work and have found to be very good.

What you need to transfer your domain (these apply for Hover, but it's probably very similar for other registrars):

  • privacy turned off - so the admin email is visible in the whois information (most people will want to leave privacy on at all other times)
  • a "transfer authorization code" or "EPP key" ("Extensible Provisioning Protocol")
  • the domain unlocked so it's transferable (this is the only time you should unlock this)

Doesn't sound too bad, right? All you need to do is go to the old and new registrars and poke a few buttons. Right? If only it were that simple ...

Possible problems:

  • your current registrar has no incentive to help you move - they profit from your remaining, not your departure
  • a good registrar will make it easy to change any of the settings above ... not-so-good ones may not do this ( requires you to email them and wait two days to get your auth code, Hover requires only the click of a button and it's displayed immediately)
  • once you have all this information and notify the new registrar, they have to talk to the old registrar - and that can take several days. You really don't want your domain to be on the edge of expiry while this goes on. (a subsidiary of Arctic Names) provided days and days of this (scan to the bottom):

$ whois

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to
for detailed information.

   Domain Name: GILESORR.COM
   Registrar: ARCTIC NAMES, INC.
   Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 1340
   Whois Server:
   Referral URL:
   Name Server: NS.JAGUARPC.NET
   Name Server: NS2.JAGUARPC.NET
   Status: ok
   Updated Date: 10-aug-2014
   Creation Date: 08-sep-2002
   Expiration Date: 08-sep-2016

>>> Last update of whois database: Fri, 05 Aug 2016 16:52:06 GMT <<<

For more information on Whois status codes, please visit

NOTICE: The expiration date displayed in this record is the date the
registrar's sponsorship of the domain name registration in the registry is
currently set to expire. This date does not necessarily reflect the expiration
date of the domain name registrant's agreement with the sponsoring
registrar.  Users may consult the sponsoring registrar's Whois database to
view the registrar's reported date of expiration for this registration.

TERMS OF USE: You are not authorized to access or query our Whois
database through the use of electronic processes that are high-volume and
automated except as reasonably necessary to register domain names or
modify existing registrations; the Data in VeriSign Global Registry
Services' ("VeriSign") Whois database is provided by VeriSign for
information purposes only, and to assist persons in obtaining information
about or related to a domain name registration record. VeriSign does not
guarantee its accuracy. By submitting a Whois query, you agree to abide
by the following terms of use: You agree that you may use this Data only
for lawful purposes and that under no circumstances will you use this Data
to: (1) allow, enable, or otherwise support the transmission of mass
unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations via e-mail, telephone,
or facsimile; or (2) enable high volume, automated, electronic processes
that apply to VeriSign (or its computer systems). The compilation,
repackaging, dissemination or other use of this Data is expressly
prohibited without the prior written consent of VeriSign. You agree not to
use electronic processes that are automated and high-volume to access or
query the Whois database except as reasonably necessary to register
domain names or modify existing registrations. VeriSign reserves the right
to restrict your access to the Whois database in its sole discretion to ensure
operational stability.  VeriSign may restrict or terminate your access to the
Whois database for failure to abide by these terms of use. VeriSign
reserves the right to modify these terms at any time.

The Registry database contains ONLY .COM, .NET, .EDU domains and
whois: connect(): Connection refused

While it's true that not many people care about whois these days, it provides a service that turns out to be very important if you're transferring your domain: it shows the domain's administrator email, which is needed to complete the transfer. So if your registrar can't show whois information, it becomes much harder to transfer your domain. Notice the "connect(): Connection refused" and the lack of an admin email. This is a huge fail for a domain registrar. They don't have much of a job to do, but this is right at the heart of it.

Services to look for (I'm sure there are others that are important, these are just the ones that came up as problems on this move):

  • HTTPS everywhere (this should be automatic, but at it's available but they don't advertise it or enforce it ... their default is unencrypted!!)
  • easy access to your own auth codes for transfers
  • easy control of subdomains
  • automatic privacy of your information in whois

Specific notes about these transfers: I had one .ca domain to transfer. Five days after I started the transfer, I received notification from Hover that had refused the transfer. I asked why, but Hover told me budgetnames had provided no reason. I contacted budgetnames, who said "we did nothing wrong: you should contact your new registrar." Seriously? I restarted the transfer and it completed in a couple hours. I was unable to even start the transfer of the .com domains for four days because budgetnames whois information was down the entire time. And then it took another five days for the transfers to complete. Start now!

Post Script (2016-09-01)

In a continuing show of their technical skills, Budget Names has just sent me renewal notices for two of my domains that would have expired in a week - if they'd still been with Budget Names (both are with Hover). Twice, I might add: two identical notices for each domain. I wonder how long it will be before they stop sending me notices?

Post Script (2016-10-09)

Budget names has just sent me two identical renewal notices for another domain that's not under their control, and hasn't been since before this was posted.