Usually a domain hosting company will provide an easy method for you to transfer your domain names into their system, but the following article gives some detail on what happens behind the scenes. This knowledge can be useful if you old domain/web hosting company isn’t being very co-operative.
If you have a domain name ending in “uk” it will ultimately be maintained by a central registry organisation called Nominet which is a not-for-profit company.
Companies that sell domain names are often “middlemen” and all routes will lead to Nominet. On the Nominet homepage you will see a search box entitled WHOIS. If you type in your domain name in (minus the “www”), you will see information including its renewal date and the Registrar’s “Tag” identity.
The Tag holder tells Nominet who to charge for the domain renewal fee. A “.co.uk” domain name can only be registered for two years at a time. The Tag holder for a domain name will usually be the company that initially registered it for you. This company is known as the "Registrar".
Nominet charges the Registrar for the renewal, and they in turn, will invoice you. You, as the owner of the domain, are known as the Registrant, and as such you have the legal right to use the domain name.
Since the Registrant is the individual or business that has the legal right to use the domain name, it is very important that your name shown as the “Registrant” when you perform the WHOIS look-up, rather than your Registrar or web designers name.
Very often, when you buy a hosting package to host a website, the hosting company will offer you a free or subsidised domain name when you sign up. This is convenient for the hosting company because it gives them some leverage should you want to move to a new web host.
The less good companies can drag their feet and make additional “administration” charges, etc – this is not good! If they are a reputable business, they should allow you to “transfer out” your domain name from their system into a new one if you are dissatisfied with their services. So the advice is to choose your domain registrar carefully.
Orchid’s recommendation is to keep your domain name management and website hosting with separate companies. If you pick a good company to look after your domain, it can remain there indefinitely. Should you wish change your website hosting company at any time, you simply change a setting in your domain “control panel” which is provided by your domain management company (this does require a little technical know-how, but can be mastered). This approach will cause the minimum amount of disruption and downtime for your site during the change-over period.
The following steps provide a "rough guide" to moving your ".uk" domain to a new domain management company:
- Decide on the company who will manage your domain. Choose carefully as you won’t want to be moving again in a hurry.
- Set up an account with them and follow their instructions for “transferring in” a domain to their system. The usual steps are roughly as follows:
- Find out the IPS Tag of your new domain management company (remember the Registrar’s Tag appears on the WHOIS look up) e.g. for FreeParking.co.uk this is “FIBRANET”.
- Instruct your old company to change the Tag of your domain to that of your new domain management company. After this is done, if you now do another "WHOIS" look up with Nominet, the Registrar Tag for your domain should have changed to that of your new domain management company
- Your domain name will now appear in your new domain hosting account. There will be a few settings to update and then your domain will be successfully “parked” – you will have the option to show a "holding page" which is displayed when your "www" address is typed into a web browser
- You can now decide on your new website host (remember we are keeping the domain management and web hosting separate) and set up a hosting account with them
- Once you website is ready to go live, upload your website files to your new web hosting account
- The final step is to “point” your domain name to your new web host. This means updating your domain control panel with the identity of the computer that is hosting your site files (this is called an IP Address). This ensures that when someone types in your "www" domain address into their web browser, your web pages will display. You may want to get some assistance with this part of the process.
Setting up to use your domain name for email will need some further settings to be changed if you want to use your web hosting companies servers.
If the company that manages your domain and hosts your website is one and the same, and they are proving difficult to deal with i.e. your requests are ignored, you can “cut out the middleman” and go straight to Nominet (for “uk” domains) as they are ultimately in charge of all “uk” domain names. They have an excellent “Registrants FAQ” page on their website and they also have a telephone support line that can help with domain name issues and disputes.