Who Owns Your Domain, and
What to Do if Somebody Else Does

After GDPR, May 2018, it's difficult to find out who owns any domain.
Even the owner can't find out without logging in, it seems.

Domain Ownership Is Important

Your domain name identifies your brand on the world wide web. It's an important business asset and should be controlled by someone in authority in the business. This is doubly important if you ever want to sell your business. Whoever controls your domain can shut down your website or lose it for you altogether.

Often, the "Registrant" is the person who registered the domain in the first place. It could be an employee, someone who has since left, or your first website designer.

For obvious reasons, it's important that your business owns its domain name. We have recently come across several businesses who have had problems because they don't.

Domain Name Registration

The Domain Name System, or DNS, is like a telephone directory, linking your domain name to the physical address of your web site.

You don't actually own the domain, it's more like a lease. So long as you continue to pay the annual subscription, you keep the name and its place in the DNS directory. If payments lapse, you lose both and someone else can take it over. Christopher Fielden is a well-known wine writer. He failed to keep up his domain registration way past the end of the cooling off period. Guess who owns it now.

Different organisations across the world manage the domain name directory.

An organisation called Nominet controls domains ending with .uk, including .co.uk, .org.uk and so on;
.com, .net and .org domains are managed by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
For a more complete explanation, try Wikipedia, here.

Domain Register

Registrar: an organisation that performs registrations, often an Internet Service Provider.

Registrant: the current "owner" of a domain.

Your business MUST be the Registrant. Individuals can register domains, too, if a website is not used for trade, but make sure YOUR BUSINESS is the registrant. Make the main contact someone with authority in the business, like a director or the company secretary.

It's fine to make your web designer the technical contact, so she can manage the domain on your behalf. You can, and should, change this if you fall out with them.

Who Registered Your Domain?

After GDPR, May 2018, it's difficult to find out who owns any domain.  Even the owner can't find out without logging in, it seems.

To discover who registered your domain, go to the "Whois" website and enter your domain name, e.g. www.bluetree.co.uk.

If the Registrant is not your company, then you should take steps to change it.

If a private individual registers a domain that's not used for trade, they can pay extra to hide their contact details. This can make things difficult if you want to correct a bad situation. A business cannot hide its details, however.

Want Help With Your Domain Name?

We help all our website design clients with their domain names, please get in touch :)