Make Sure You Own Your Domain Name

It is important that every business or organization has their domain names (eg slaw.ca) registered in their own name, and that the administrative contact is a senior person within the business.

There are a couple of reasons for that.

Domain names are often registered by an advertising agency, web designer, or IT provider for one of their customers. They should register it in their customer’s name, but often register it in their own name because it is simpler and easier for them.

Given that domain names are valuable assets, they ought to be registered in the actual owner’s name. The problem arises when for some reason the relationship goes sour and the party in whose name your domain is registered refuses to transfer ownership to you, or keeps control of the site, or disables the site.

While there are procedures available to get your domain name back, they take time and money.

If you were counting on getting that new web site up to launch a new product or business, it might be delayed for weeks or months while the domain name is wrestled back.

Even if the domain name is registered in the rightful owner’s name, if the administrative contact is in another party’s name, it can lead to similar problems. Domain name registrars will only take instructions from the administrative contact. That could be for assigning the name, or renewing, or to change the administrative contact.

There are processes available to change the administrative contact without the consent of the listed administrative contact. But because the risk of fraud and abuse is so high, the registrar puts you through a significant process to ensure that the domain name is not being hijacked.

This is one of those things that is simple to get right from the outset, but can be a major pain in terms of time and money to fix if it goes wrong.

As a client recently put it: “All this for a $20 domain … sad”.

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