Registering a domain name isn’t quite as simple as making a one-off payment to a hosting company and designing a website. Like any registration process, your details have to be logged and stored online so information relevant to that domain can be supplied to the relevant individuals. It’s vital that an accurate list of who owns domain names is maintained, preventing the unlicensed free-for-all that caused so many issues in the World Wide Web’s formative years.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, was founded in 1998 to regulate and monitor domain activity for the first time. They introduced a system whereby websites ending in a certain top level domain (the final part of a web address) are governed by a particular agency. For instance, the .uk TLD is supervised by an organisation called Nominet. ICANN regulations require Nominet (and other TLD governing bodies) to obtain and register a few basic details from anyone who owns a domain name, before it can be used. This process is called domain name validation, and it’s usually just a case of approving pre-supplied contact information via an email link.
At UK2, we aim to make validation as simple as possible. If you’ve already completed verification for your first domain purchase, we’ll use this information for future registrations to avoid you having to repeat the process every time a new domain is acquired. Once it’s been recorded who owns a domain, subsequent additions to their portfolio are always easier to manage. However, the verification process does have to be completed by someone every time a new domain is registered and renewed. That’s equally true whenever it’s transferred, while any changes to recorded contact information also need to be passed on.
If confirmation of who owns a domain isn’t provided within 15 days of the owner being contacted, their domain will be suspended. At this point, it will be taken offline. Visitors attempting to view a website at that location will be informed the domain is pending ICANN verification; emails may be returned undelivered. Once verification has been submitted, it then takes a day or two for the site to be reactivated and become publicly accessible. That’s clearly unacceptable for an ecommerce or service platform, and it’s far from helpful even for non-trading websites or information portals. Basically, no site should go offline unless it’s essential.
Once the validation process is completed, ownership of the domain name passes to you. It can then be used for whichever purpose you originally intended. However, it’s important to remember that ownership is not permanent. Domain names are effectively obtained on a long-term lease, and can be paid for monthly or annually. Although it can be retained for as long as you wish, it’s possible to surrender the domain at the end of an agreement period that may last for anywhere between a year and a decade. Fortunately, UK2 makes it easy to automatically renew domain ownership, so there’s no need to put annual reminders in your Outlook calendar…
While many websites will remain online for decades, there are plenty of reasons why an existing domain might need to be sold. For instance, the company retaining ownership could have been bought out by a rival. A trading division may have been relinquished or a brand name sold on, while retirement or handing ownership of a business to a relative frequently involves a domain transfer.
The process of transferring ownership of a domain is known as a registrant transfer. ICANN and organisations like Nominet refer to UK2 as registrars and our clients as registrants. Since we are accredited with these organisations, we can often help clients with a process that’s surprisingly cheap and easy. Rather like notifying DVLA of a vehicle’s sale, transferring a domain is very straightforward. And while some new registrants might want to switch to a different service provider, others will be happy to retain UK2’s services. Not only is this an excellent decision from their perspective, it also helps us to streamline the process of transferring ownership.