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Transfer Domain Ownership

In December 2016, ICANN implemented a few amendments to its Transfer Policy. In addition to regulating inter-registrar transfers for general top-level domains (gTLDs), the updated policy sets new requirements for domain transfers between registrants. This article explains what you need to do to transfer your domain ownership to another person within the guidelines of this new policy.



Change the Domain's Contact Information

Your first step is to change the domain's contact information to reflect that of the new owner.

The contact information for the domain is included on its record in the public WHOIS database, as required by ICANN. Since you're transferring the ownership of the domain to another person, you'll want to update the record to reflect their contact information. This will allow them to transfer the domain to a registrar of their choice.

There are three contacts listed for each domain:

  • Registrant. The person or company who owns or holds the domain.
  • Admin. The person authorized by the registrant to interact with and answer questions from the registrar. They will receive the authorization emails from the registrar during a domain transfer.
  • Billing. The person authorized to receive the invoice and renewal fees for the domain registration.

The contact data can be the same for all three, or it can be different if you have multiple people who manage your domain. The important thing is to make sure it's accurate. Also, it's best to avoid using an email address that's associated with the domain. Use a public email service, like Gmail, instead.

The process to update the domain's contact information is slightly different for general top-level domains (gTLDs) than it is for other TLDs because they're required to follow a Change of Registrant process. Read more about that below.

Change of Registrant

The Change of Registrant process only applies to general top-level domains (gTLDs). It does not apply to other TLDs, including but not limited to country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), like .uk, .ca., and so on.

In an effort to prevent fraudulent domain transfers and other criminal activity, ICANN considers any material change to the registrant's name, organization, or email address to be a Change of Registrant—or ownership transfer between two parties—even if it's not truly changing ownership. Both the old and new registrant (even if they're technically the same person) must confirm the change by clicking a link in a verification email before the updated record can be submitted to the registry.

The domain will enter a 60-day transfer lock period following a successful Change of Registrant. Check the box to opt-out of this lock period before saving the new registrant's contact information so the new owner can transfer the domain to another registrar during this time.

Once you save the new registrant's contact information by following the next section's steps, we'll send an email to the prior registrant with links to either approve or cancel the request. When the changes are approved, we'll send a similar email to the new registrant for approval. If the email address did not change, then both emails will be sent to the same address. Both the old and new registrant (even if they're technically the same person) must confirm the change by clicking a link in their respective verification emails. Then we'll submit the updated record to the registry to complete the process.

The Change of Registrant process must be completed by both parties within 14 days. If either party fails to respond or clicks the link to cancel the request or fails to respond in time, the domain's contact information will not be changed, and you'll have to start over again.

Steps to Change the Contact Information

Whether you're updating a gTLD or not, the process to update the contact information is basically the same. However, you will only see the option to opt-out of the 60-day transfer lock. If saving your changes will trigger a Change of Registrant request. If the option isn't there, the Change of Registrant for Legacy account process (steps 7, 9, and 10) will not apply.

To begin, you will need to access the Bluehost control panel.

Legacy

  1. Click the Domains tab from the navigation menu that stretches across the top of your screen.
    legacy-bh-domain-tab
  2. Scroll down and select the domain you want to transfer from the list on the left.
    legacy-bh-domains-list
  3. Check the several tabs for the domain that will appear to the right. 
  4. Click the contacts tab.
  5. Check the boxes for registrant, admin, and billing to view the information listed for each contact.
    legacy-contacts-registrantv1
    Note: You can view and edit each individually or all at once, depending on which box(es) you've selected.
  6. Make any changes to the information for each contact as necessary, then double-check the information to verify that you've entered the new owner's correct email address for the registrant and admin.

    Do you see the option to opt-out of the 60-day transfer lock? If not, click the Update Contact Information button to save your changes. If it's there, updating the contact information will initiate a Change of Registrant request, which requires both parties to approve of the changes before the updated record can be submitted to the registry. Follow these steps to continue:

  7. Check the box to opt-out of the 60-day transfer lock. This is optional but highly recommended.
    legacy-60-day
  8. Click the update contact information button to save your changes.
  9. Locate the verification email and click the link to approve the changes.
  10. The new owner must locate their verification email and click the link to approve the changes.

Rock

  1. Click the Domains tab from the side navigation menu to the left. 
  2. Next to the domain name you wish to update, click the  icon next to Manage. 
  3. Select the Contact info from the drop-down menu that appears.
    rock_bh_domain_contact_info

And that's it! For this part, anyway. Now you need to prepare the domain so the new owner can transfer it to their registrar.

Prepare the Domain for Transfer

Most new domain owners will want to transfer their domain to a new registrar so they can manage it themselves. Now that you've updated the contact information, it's time to prepare the domain so the new registrant can transfer it to a new registrar and manage it themselves.

Disable Privacy

Privacy, if you have it, must be paused (disabled) for the transfer to be successful. Pausing privacy unblocks the domain's contact information in the public WHOIS database so the gaining registrar can contact the new owner regarding the transfer.

Bluerock

  1. Click the Domains tab from the side navigation menu to the left. 
  2. Next to the domain name you wish to update, click the  icon next to Manage. 
  3. Select the Security from the drop-down menu that appears.
    rock-bluehost-security-tab
  4. Scroll down, and look for the Domain Privacy section.
  5. Click the toggle button to turn off the domain privacy.
    rock-bluehost-domain-privacy

Legacy

  1. Click the privacy tab.
    legacy-privacyv1
  2. If privacy is enabled, click Pause Domain Privacy.

Unlock the Domain

Domains are locked by default to prevent unauthorized transfers. You must unlock the domain so the new owner can transfer it to their registrar.

Legacy

  1. Log in to the Bluehost control panel.
  2. Select the Domain tab from the navigation menu that stretches across the top of your screen.
  3. In the domain manager, select the domain within the domain list
  4. In the domain info window to the right of the domain, select the lock tab.
  5. Click the unlock your domain button.
    legacy-unlock-domain

Rock

  1. Log in to your Bluehost control panel.
  2. Click the Domains tab from the side navigation menu to the left.
  3. Select the domain within the domain list, click on the Manage button.
  4. Click the Security sub-tab.
  5. Toggle the switch from the left side for disabling the Transfer lock.
    rock-domain-unlock

Obtain the EPP Code

Now you need the EPP code, which other registrars may refer to as the Authorization or Auth code. It's essentially a unique password for the domain, made up of letters, numbers, and special characters, which the new owner will give to the gaining registrar to authorize the transfer.

  1. Click the Transfer EPP tab.
  2. Copy the code and give it to the new owner.

Important Note: EPP Code is the case- and character-specific, so if you choose to copy/paste it, make sure there aren't any additional spaces at the beginning or end.

That's it! Let the new registrant know they can now initiate a domain transfer through the registrar of their choice whenever they're ready.