What is domain transfer?

A domain name registrar is a company that handles the reservation of Internet domain names, assigning IP addresses to them. When you have settled on an available name for your website (E.g. www.domain.com), it needs to be registered, usually for an annual fee. Examples of popular domain name registrars include:

  • NameCheap
  • Domain.com
  • Google Domains
  • Dreamhost
  • Hover
  • GoDaddy
  • Bluehost

For a variety of reasons—such as a price increase for annual fees, you may choose to change your domain registrar, transfering your domain. This transfer is the act of switching your domain name from one registrar (E.g. from GoDaddy) to a different one (E.g. to NameCheap). You can only transfer a domain after a period of 60 days or more with the original registrar. Once the transfer has been completed, all of the information surrounding the domain will be maintained by the new registrar. 


What’s the difference between domain transfer and website migration?

With domain transfers, it’s only the registration of a domain name that is being transferred from an old registrar to a new one. The content of the actual website is not affected. In the case of a website migration, the content (website files, databases, etc.) is copied from the old hosting provider and migrated to a new one. The domain must be pointed to the new server hosting for the site to be considered active on the new server.

How to transfer a domain?

As long as your 60-day period with your original registrar has passed, you can begin the process of domain transfer. Before you begin, make sure all of your contact information is up to date on your current registrar’s control panel and that you have a secondary email address available as the one associated with your current registrar will be deactivated.

  • Unlock your domain: you can either unlock it yourself in the control panel or make the request to your current domain registrar.
  • Request the authorization code: In order to protect your domain from someone other than you attempting to transfer it, you will need an authorization code to move forward. After requesting it, it should come within 5 days to your email address. Some registrars may offer the option to generate the authorization code in the control panel.
  • Set up an account with your new registrar: You can now make an account with your new registrar. Just add the name of the domain (the www. is not necessary) along with its TLD (top-level domain) of .com, .org, etc., and enter the authorization code that was provided to you. You will be contacted by your previous and new registrars to authorize the transfer and confirm details.
  • Make the payment: At this point you will be asked to pay for your domain name transfer, which may include the new registrar’s annual fee.
  • Allow settings to transfer: Once the transfer is authorized and paid for, the new registrar will configure the DNS, which can take a few days or a week. Your website will still be available during this time.
  • Choose between a private or public domain: Depending on your domain registrar, you may have the option to mask your domain registration information so a search on WHOIS will only display information for your registrar instead of your contact information. Private registration will most likely cost more.
  • Cancel your previous service: Once your transfer is complete and your account is up and running, you can cancel the service of your old registrar to avoid being charged.