Experiments with Transferring Domains with Whois Privacy Enabled

If you’ve purchased Whois Privacy Protection for your domains (which is sometimes also called Private Domain Registration, Contact Privacy or WhoisGuard), then it’s likely that you’ll want to keep your information private even while transferring your domains from one registrar to another.

The good news is, most registrars that sell Whois Privacy services will allow you to continue to hide your identity during the transfer from one registrar to another. The exceptions to that are GoDaddy, who actively reject any domain transfers while you’ve got their Domains by Proxy service enabled, and a few providers including OpenSRS/Tucows and Realtime Register who don’t forward e-mails sent to the address in the Whois record, instead sending an autoreply and asking the person to submit their message via a web form on their site.

I’ve been conducting tests with a number of popular registrars, and have compiled the results in a table below to make it easy to get the answers you need.

RegistrarWhois Privacy DomainCan You Transfer with Privacy On?Can You Approve Transfers for Faster Moves?Notes
RegistrarWhois Privacy DomainCan You Transfer with Privacy On?Can You Approve Transfers for Faster Moves?Notes
GoDaddydomainsbyproxy.comNoYesGoDaddy reject all transfers with Domains by Proxy Privacy service enabled
Namecheapwhoisguard.comYesYes - see notesFor fast transfer, click the link in the e-mail Namecheap sends, and choose to Approve Transfer.
Contact e-mail of [email protected] will be set if domain left unlocked too long.
Namesiloprivacyguardian.orgYesYes
Internet.bscustomers.whoisprivacycorp.comYesNo
Amazon Registrarwhoisprivacyservice.orgYesNo
NameBrightnamebrightprivacy.comYesYes
Name.comprotecteddomainservices.comYesYes, but only by e-mailing support
OpenSRScontactprivacy.comNoYesE-mails to @contactprivacy.com generate an auto reply that advises to use a Web Form to contact the owner.
Enomprotecteddomainservices.comYesYesFor fast transfer, click the link in the e-mail Enom sends, and choose to Approve Transfer.
Freenomidshield.tkUnknownUnknownTest pending, results in September
Realtime Registermydomainprovider.comNoYesE-mails to @mydomainprovider.com generate an auto reply that advises to use a Web Form to contact the owner.
Register.comdomaindiscreet.comYesYes
ResellerClubprivacyprotect.orgUnknownUnknown
Aboveprivacy.above.comUnknownUnknown

So, what can you do if you’re looking to transfer a domain away from the following providers and don’t want to reveal your personal information?

  • GoDaddy or their resellers on the Wild West Domains platform that use [email protected] e-mail addresses
  • OpenSRS or any of their resellers that use [email protected] e-mail addresses
  • Realtime Register or any of their resellers that use [email protected] e-email addresses

While ICANN’s Registrant Responsibilities require you to use valid contact information which would prohibit you from using data from the Fake Name Generator, here are a few ideas about how you could maintain your personal privacy while transferring a domain:

  • Use a Serviced Office: In exchange for a monthly fee, serviced offices will allow you to use their mailing address and they will forward any mail to you.
  • Mail Forwarding Service: Similar to a serviced office, mail forwarding services such as TravelingMailbox.com or Earth Class Mail allow you to use their address and get any postal mail scanned and emailed to you.
  • Care of Post Office or Post Office Box: You could use a “Care of Post Office” address or rent a post office box at your local post office, to hide your home address.
  • Work Address: Rather that putting your home address in, you could use the office address of your employer.
  • Third Party Whois Privacy Services: The final option is to take up a third party whois privacy service, like PrivateDomain.me to protect your personal information.

You’ll need to be able to receive the Transfer Approval email from the new registrar, so you could sign up for a new e-mail address from someone like Yahoo! Mail or Outlook.com, or if you already have the domain hosted, you could set up an email forwarder on that domain’s cPanel to direct to your main e-mail address.

Updating Your Details, Removing Privacy and Completing the Transfer

First, update your contact details before removing the Domains by Proxy service from GoDaddy or Contact Privacy from OpenSRS through your domain dashboard. Set the address, telephone number and e-mail address for all contact records to the relevant details that you’ve picked from the list of ideas above.

For GoDaddy/Wild West Domains, When you get the contact details update email (pictured below), be sure to disable the 60 day Transfer Lock, so that you’re not stuck with GoDaddy for an extra 60 days. It’s ticked by default, so slide it to be unticked, like the image below.

 

For OpenSRS, be sure to tick the box to opt-out of 60 day transfer lock after contact details update during the process of changing the details, or have the reseller that you’re using do that for you when they process the contact details update. It’s not ticked by default, so slide the option on the right to be ticked, like the image below.

Once you’ve received e-mail confirmation of the contact details update (it usually takes less than 5 mins after verifying it from both e-mail addresses), then you can disable the Whois Privacy service and complete the transfer to your new registrar. Most registrars will give you the option of re-querying the Whois database to get the latest contact e-mail address for the domain, and restart the process from within the Transfer Manager section of their system if you’ve found this page after failing to complete a transfer the first time.