The purpose of this article is to outline the importance of having correct and up-to-date domain contact information.
- This article focuses on the .au namespace but can be applied to all domain types.
- Resellers and web developers purchasing domains on behalf of their customers must not use their own contact information in the registrant contact field for a domain name. See the Registrant Contact Information Policy (2010-07) on the auDA website for more information.
You paid for your domain registration, but do you own it?
All too often the surprising answer to this simple question is no. Having the wrong name on your domain registration can cause expensive and frustrating problems. We have dealt with several cases where a client ran into serious trouble when they discovered that the domain they thought was theirs turned out to be owned by someone else.
The risks are real. Companies who have built their business around a domain they thought they owned have been held hostage by suppliers and former employees. Reasserting ownership of your domain can cost a lot of money, involve delays and legal fees, or in extreme cases even force switching to a new domain name.
Who owns my domain?
Start by checking your Whois record.
For .au domains such as .com.au, .net.au, .org.au etc. you can check this on the AusRegistry website here:
For other types of domains such as .com, .net you can check here:
For example, let’s look at the results from a Whois lookup on openconnect.com.au.
The first section just tells us the domain name, the registrar and the status of the domain name.
Domain Name: openconnect.com.au
Registrar ID: AUSSIEHQ
Registrar Name: AussieHQ Pty Ltd
The next section will show the business entity that owns the domain name (.au domains only). It is very important that the registrant matches your business or company name and your ABN or ACN number valid. Failure to keep this information up-to-date may result in the loss of your domain name.
Registrant: Your Company Name
Registrant ID: Your ACN or ABN Goes Here
Eligibility Type: Company
Eligibility Name: Your Company Name
If the registrant and registrant details do not match your business or match that of your web developer or reseller please contact them immediately to request these details are updated. A fee may apply to update the owner of a .au domain name.
The next section will show the registrant/administrative contact details. The registrant contact email address should be an active email address which you have access to. This email address is where we will send the domain password should it be requested in future.
If you are reselling domains it is important you use your clients contact information here as is required by the auDA. See the Registrant Contact Information Policy (2010-07).
Registrant Contact ID: AHQ19QBDK7ZGK
Registrant Contact Name: Domain Hostmaster
Registrant Contact Email: email@example.com
If the registrant contact details on your domain name are not yours or you do not have access to the registrant contact email address you can update them via your customer control panel. If you do not have access to the customer control panel or have purchased your domain through a third party you will need to contact them and request this be updated.
Help! My domain isn’t mine! now what?
First, don’t panic. There are lots of ethical businesses and loyal staff who will never give you a problem. Most of the time, correcting the problem is simple and inexpensive. Your domain was probably registered by your web site developer, a current or former staff member. If you have a good relationship with them, no problem. The trouble starts when that relationship breaks down.
If your website developer owns your domain
This is fairly common. After all, your web developer has the expertise you need to get your site registered, created and hosted. It makes sense to let them handle the initial registration. But even then, the domain should be registered in the name of your business, not theirs. It’s also prudent to make sure that once the domain is registered you establish ownership and maintain exclusive control over it. Insist that your developer move the domain to an account that is exclusively for your use. Once that’s done, change the password.
This may seem inconvenient, but the risk of giving a third party developer control over your domain is that if you ever elect to switch suppliers, an unethical shop may try to hold your domain hostage, often demanding transfer payments in the thousands of dollars.
If one of your staff members owns your domain
This is rarely a problem until after someone leaves the company. If the parting was not on the best of terms, or if it was due to some incapacitating illness, then there can be significant trouble. The employee can claim ownership of the domain, disable access to it, intercept eMail, or even redirect your customers to another site that can be very damaging to your image.
Make sure that the persons listed as domain contacts have a “fiduciary responsibility” to your business. Examples are owners, officers, and corporate directors. These people have a legal obligation to act in the interests of the company, which offers you a degree of legal protection against misappropriation.
You should ensure your domain contact details are kept up-to-date at all times, if any of the following details don’t match your business or company, you may risk losing your domain name:
- The Registrant Name
- The Registrant ID
- The Registrant Contact
- The Registrant Contact Email Address