There are a multitude of reasons you’ll want to transfer your domain. Maybe you’ve sold a domain, or bought one for a gift? Or, you could be unsatisfied with your current registrar and are looking to migrate?

Whether you’re transferring ownership of your domain or migrating to a new registrar, there are certain steps you’ll need to follow. Although it might seem fairly technical, this process exists for a reason—to help ensure that your domain remains in the right hands.

Below we look at the things to look for in a new domain name registration provider, as well as the processes you need to follow to transfer a domain name to a new registrar, or another party entirely.

register domain name

Why Transfer a Domain?

As you learned in the introduction, there are plenty of reasons you might want to transfer a domain name. The most common is because you’re frustrated with your current registrar. Maybe the yearly renewal rate is too expensive? Or, you’re looking for a registrar with more features?

For example, by using a domain name registrar like HostGator you can group your domain name and hosting all under one roof. This simplifies the technical steps of setting up your website, as well as the number of invoices you’ll have to remember to renew.

There’s nothing worse than letting an important domain lapse because you forget to check in and missed the renewal date.

Or, you could have sold a domain, or bought a domain for a friend. In this scenario, you’ll be switching the ownership of the domain along with transferring the domain to their registrar of choice.

Whatever your reason we’ll walk you through both processes in the final section below. If you’re not in the market for a new registrar yourself, then feel free to skip to the final section of this post.

What to Look for in a New Domain Registrar

If you’re transferring your domain because you’re dissatisfied with your current domain name registrar, then you’ll want to make sure you’re not going to make the same mistake twice. Which means you’ll want to make sure your new registrar is high-quality and won’t lead to the same headaches you’re currently experiencing.

Here are a few key things to look for as you search for the perfect domain name registrar:

1. Total Feature Set

Every registrar will have different features. Some registrars will only offer domain name purchase and management, while others will provide an entire suite of different services.

Common features include domain name management, renewal, transfer, and domain privacy protection via WHOIS.

However, other registrars will also offer bundled website hosting, website builders, email management and a lot more.

If you want your hosting and domain name management all under one roof, then you’ll need a registrar that also offers hosting. Plus, you’ll need to make sure that the host is also very high quality.

Make a list of what non-negotiable features you need in a registrar and compare this with the feature set of the registrar you want to switch to.

2. User Friendliness

There’s no point in transferring registrars if it’s going to be very difficult to use. You’ll want it to be very easy to manage your domain names, purchase a new domain name, switch over the nameservers to your host, add privacy protection, and a lot more.

The last thing you want is to have to spend hours setting up your domain names, just because the platform isn’t easy to use.

For this reason, it can be helpful to look for a domain registrar that’s oriented towards beginners, as generally it’ll be much easier to navigate and will use less confusing terminology.

Also, look out for tutorials, blog posts, and other helpful information that’ll help save you time and set up your domains the right way.

3. Customer Support

You might not need to use customer support all the time, but when you do, you’ll want them to be responsive and helpful. When you’re having issues with your domain name, or any of the associated services, you’ll want a support team that can help you out as fast as possible.

For example, if your domain is currently offline for some reason, you’ll want support to be able to quickly resolve this issue.

It can be helpful to get in touch with customer support before you decide to move registrars. This will help you get a feel for the quality and responsiveness of the support team before you migrate.

Also, make sure they provide the support channels that you prefer to use, whether that’s live chat or phone. At HostGator, we offer 24/7 Live Chat and phone support every day of the year.

hostgator domain registrar customer support contact information

4. Domain Protection

When using a registrar you’ll want to make sure that your domains are secure and there are features in place to help protect your purchase.

For example, is WHOIS privacy protection included free of charge? Will you be notified before your domain name expires? Are there additional privacy and protection services you can purchase?

Beyond protecting your purchase and ensuring that your domain will always remain in your possession (as long as you want it), you’ll want to make sure there are features that allow for the safe transfer of your domain name.

Here are a few domain transfer features to look for:

  • Authorization codes. These codes help to ensure that whoever is transferring your domain has permission to do so.
  • Transfer locks. These help to ensure that your domain name can never be transferred to another party without your permission.
  • Transfer confirmation emails. These emails will require authentication to make sure that you’re transferring the domain to the right party.

5. Overall Price

Finally, you’ll want to consider the price of the new registrar. Price is important, but it shouldn’t be the main factor in deciding to pick a new registrar. Choosing based upon price alone can leave you with a low-quality registrar that’ll end up being detrimental to your website as a whole.

When examining the price of a new registrar make sure you consider any additional fees. Some registrars will include services for free that others will charge an add-on fee for. Some registrars will have very low introductory rates but jump up tremendously when it’s time to renew.

Find a domain registrar within your budget, but don’t let price be the sole determining factor in your selection.

How to Transfer a Domain

The general process for transferring a domain will be similar no matter what registrar you’re using. Below we’ll show you how to transfer a domain, whether you’re migrating to a new registrar, or you’re moving your domain to another party.

1. Transfer a Domain to Another Registrar

Moving your domain to a new registrar isn’t difficult, but there’s a series of steps you’ll have to complete. These steps exist in order to protect the domain that you own.

But, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then here’s how you can transfer your domain to a new registrar. For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to assume you’re moving your domain over to HostGator.

Before we dive in there’s an important point to cover. You can only transfer a domain if it’s been in your possession for 60 days. If you’ve owned your domain for more than 60 days, then you’re good to go. If not, then bookmark this post and come back in 60 days.

1. Prepare for the Transfer

The first thing you’ll need to do is disable the existing protection protocols and prepare your domain name for a transfer. If you want a smooth transfer process, then make sure you do the following:

  1. Update your nameservers to reflect your new host (if you’re also migrating your hosting )
  2. Disable your WHOIS privacy protection, if it’s currently enabled
  3. Make sure that your domain contact information is up to date
  4. Unlock your domain name at your current registrar
  5. Obtain your EPP authorization code, you might have to reach out to your current registrar to obtain this

Now, your domain is successfully prepared and ready for transfer.

2. Start the Domain Transfer

Initiating the transfer process with HostGator is easy. Head over to the HostGator Transfer page and enter the domain name you want to transfer.

transfer a domain to hostgator

This tool will then run through the pre-transfer checklist to make sure that you’ve satisfied all of the requirements.

If there are any issues with the domain you want to transfer then these will be displayed in the pop-up box. If everything is good to go, then you’ll be able to complete the transfer.

To finalize the transfer you’ll need to pay for a yearly registration at your new registrar. Since you’re using HostGator, just click the ‘Continue to Checkout’ button. Here you’ll enter your billing information and complete your purchase. Once you’ve submitted payment the transfer process will begin.

3. Verify the Domain Transfer

To complete the domain transfer you’ll need to go through the email verification process to ensure you’re transferring the domain to the right person.

Navigate to the email inbox for the email address that’s associated with the current domain. You should see a verification email. Here you’ll need to enter your EPP key or your authorization code.

Once this has been verified the transfer process will be done. Now you just have to wait for the transfer process to finish.

2. Transfer a Domain to Another Party

If you’re currently using HostGator for your domains and you want to transfer your domain to another third party, then following the steps below:

1. Unlock Your Domain and Prepare for Transfer

In order to transfer your domain, you’ll need to prepare your domain for transfer. To do this navigate to your control panel and head over to the ‘Domains’ tab.

how to transfer domains at hostgator

Then, select the domain name you want to transfer and unlock the domain. Then, turn off privacy protection, if you have it enabled.

If the person you’re transferring the domain to has another host enabled, then you’ll need to point the nameservers to the new host. But, if not, then you can leave the nameservers alone.

Finally, you’ll need to obtain the EPP/Authorization Code from the ‘Transfer EPP’ tab.

With all of this, you’re now ready to initiate the transfer.

2. Confirm the Third-Party Transfer

The transfer will need to be initiated by the third party who’s accepting the domain name. This will be done from their own account on their registrar of choice.

Once the transfer has been initiated you’ll need to log back into your Domain Manager and accept the transfer.

To finalize the transfer you should receive a confirmation email that deals with identity confirmation and your EPP codes.

Domain Transfer FAQ

Hopefully, the above information covered the process in depth, but you still might have a few questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions related to a domain transfer.

How long will the domain transfer process take?

In total, the transfer should be completed in 5-7 days. This is the standard allotment, but usually, the domain will be switched over prior to that. But, if you have any issues, then it might take a bit longer to resolve everything.

How long does it take to initiate a domain transfer?

Preparing the domain and initiating the transfer shouldn’t take long at all. At most, it should take an hour or two. You should set aside some time to do the transfer without any interference. If you wait too long the security codes might expire, so you’ll want to everything at the same time.

Can domain information be altered during a transfer?

No. That’s why you’ll need to make sure all of the contact information, especially the contact email, is correct before you initiate the transfer. You can only change the domain contact information once the transfer is complete. If you need to change any domain information while the transfer is taking place you’ll need to get in touch with customer support.

Ready to Transfer Your Domain?

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the domain transfer process and everything it takes to properly migrate a domain name. If you’re switching to a new domain registrar, then the information above should help point you in the right direction.

Transfer your domain to HostGator today.

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.