Domain Listing, Ownership and Expiration

Did someone purchase or setup a domain for you?  Have you checked to see who’s listed as your Registrant and Administrative Contact? You should! There are very few ways to protect your precious domain and making sure you are the Registrant and Administrative Contact in the domain’s listing is one of them.

The Registrant and Administrative Contact are the legal owners of the domain. It is important that this be your name (not your web developers name) in case you need to move your domain to another management company or defend it in a trademark infringement circumstance.

Types of Domain Listing Contacts

1. Registrant – The licensee of the domain name.  The individual or company who has the right to use, sell or destroy a domain name. This should be your company name.

2. Administrative Contact – The appointed agent for all management functions. This needs to be an employee, director, or manager of your company.

3. Technical and Billing Contacts – These contacts are much less important and can either be within your company or the vendors assisting you.

Check up on your domain listing with any WHOIS tool.  (My favorite is: WHOIS (pronounced “who is”; not an acronym) is a protocol for finding information about Internet servers and domains. Since this is a publicly available tool, we recommend using your business address for the listing rather than your home address. Home based business? Be safe and get a cheap PO Box address to associate with your business. You can also use this tool to search for additional available domain names or see who owns a domain you’re interested in.

It is also legally important that your listing information be accurate and kept up to date. Did you know that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requires you to update your domain name listing annually? Most domain registrars (sellers) allow you to update your domain record through their website.  Alternatively you’ll need to contact your vendor to get your listing updated.

On the subject of ICANN and trademark infringement, possession of a valid trademark is only one of three requirements that you need to meet to win ownership of a domain name. For more information on this topic, read ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.

An effective way to protect your domain from mistakenly being sold or transferred to a competitor is to turn on a feature called “registrar or domain lock.” We lock all domains we own and manage by default. The lock prevents transfer to another registrar.

Domain Expiration

The last thing you want to do is to willingly allow your domain to expire.  If you fail to renew in time, it will be costly, if not impossible, to get the domain back under your ownership. Here are some tips to help avoid unintentional expiration:

  1. Put your domain name on an auto-renew contract with your vendor.  As long as you have a valid credit card number on file with them, you won’t have to remember to renew your domain before its term expires.  (Note: You are likely to receive email or paper mail from other registrars reporting your expiration is approaching.  Ignore all of them expect the ones from your vendor.  All others are just sales attempts to acquire your business.)
  2. Why not buy your domain for multiple years at a time?  Most annual domain fees are cheap to begin with and sometimes you can even get a multi-year purchase or renewal price break.
  3. Some registrars offer an additional domain expiration protection service.

New to domains?  Get a good start with our Domain Name Basics article.  Also review our Selecting Effective Domain Names article for search and registration tips.

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