Who actually owns your domain? In other words, WHOIS your domain?

There is an increased demand for fixing small business websites. The sites may need updating, are unfinished, or broken because of plugin overload or other incompatibilities. Someone else worked on the site, has left, and now the business owner is stuck and needs help.

Before I take the job I check the ownership of the domain. Why? I need to know how the business is structured online, and how difficult it will be to deal with registrar and hosting service providers to get access to accounts if needed. If the domain ownership is in question, things get complicated.

Far too often I find that the business doesn’t actually own their domain. It can happen when someone was asked to  register that domain on the business’s behalf and puts their own name into the registry instead. Your domain is your online business name and address. He who owns the domain(s) usually  controls all related online assets, i.e. websites, email setups, and more. Besides, think about the investment in printed materials on which that domain name  is shown.

How can you find out if you own your domain? I do my searches on webnames.ca. Input the domain name in the search field. I used cocacola.com as the example. The result looks like this:

Domain Search Result

Surprise, surprise, cocacola.com is not available, but now you can find out who owns it by clicking on WHOIS.


Search the WHOIS database and check the results.


Not shown at the top are details about the domain name itself. The ownership information is highlighted in yellow. Registry Registrant ID contains Registrant Name and details, Admin Name and details, and Technical contact Name and details. The Registrant is the owner of the domain. The Registrant and Admin Names should be your business and your names. Registrant and Admin can be different, i.e. for government domain registrations the Registrant Name can be a Province and the Admin Name a person in a government office who is administering the domain(s). The Technical contact Name in both cases can be anyone you designate; for my clients it would be CompuScribe.

The WHOIS database discloses all sorts of useful information, such as who the registrar is and where a website is hosted, which can involve separate service providers. If you are not the owner of your domain then you have no control (meaning no access) to the registrar’s account, and no leverage to request access from the registrar. You are in fact locked out.

Bottom line, your business needs ownership of its domain. There are several ways to get this done. Best case, you contact the listed owner and ask them to unlock the domain and initiate the transfer. Worst case you need to involve lawyers to get possession.

goDaddy. com is one of the largest registrars out there. Their support documentation is helpful. Specifically on the process of how to move a domain name out of an account into your account.

Besides the options I have explained in this post, there are others. I would be glad to advise on you on these matters. Contact me and we’ll talk.