Transferring a domain refers to the process of changing the management of your domain from one registrar or hosting provider to another. Different steps are required for different types of domain. Below are the most common processes that need to be followed, though they may be subject to change according to registrar and domain type.
How do I transfer a domain?
To transfer a domain is not complicated, but it can be a lengthy process. If all goes well on an automated system such as .co.za, it can be as quick as 48 hours. Each time something is not correct, though, the domain transfer fails, and the process has to start all over. Therefore it can take a few weeks as a worst case scenario.
During the domain transferral process, any DNS changes are frozen. Therefore, make enough time provision, and do any domain transferrals a few weeks before any deadlines. For a domain to be transferred, the domain must be active. This means that all domain fees need to be current ( you won’t be able to transfer a domain if there are outstanding fees), and keep in mind that when a domain is transferred, it is in effect renewed so there will be a renewal fee due. The cost depends on the domain extension and registrar.
Domain transferrals need to be accepted by the registrant or domain administrator.
To transfer a .co.za domain to a new administrator:
You, as client, need to notify your current domain administrator that the domain will be transferred. Supply the exact email address from which the ticket will be issued. Make sure that if there are any mail boxes associated with the domain that these are accounted for.
Your new domain administrator will then send a ticket, which needs to be accepted by either the registrant, or domain administrator, within 24 hours of sending the ticket. For .co.za domains, this is an automated process. Once accepted, the domain will be updated with the new administrator details within the next 24 hours.
If something was not accepted promptly and correctly, it is only at this late stage that it is possible to determine that it has not transferred, and a new ticket needs to be issued.
To Transfer a .com or .org domain:
This can be much lengthier than a .co.za domain and time should be made for this. If all is successful, it should take at least ten working days to complete.
Once again, you need to notify the current domain administrators of the transfer. Then, they need to first unlock the domain, and secondly get the authorization code. This authorization code (“AUTH-code”) needs to be given to the new domain administrators, who will then complete the request for the domain transfer.
Transferral of an .org domain is non-automated, but follows the same process as a .com and is therefore the most difficult to transfer. Allow enough time for this.
Transferring to a new email administrator and server
If you have any mailboxes that are associated with the domain, first determine whether your new vendor will also manage your mails. If not, they need to ensure that the domain’s MX record does not change and still points to the existing mail server. Your existing service provider will then keep on administering your emails.
If your new vendor is taking over the administration of your mails, the mail boxes need to be set up on a new server.
To make the process as smooth as possible, you will need to supply the list of all the email accounts and their current passwords (if you have these) to your new mail vendor. They will then set up identical mail boxes on the new server. Once the domain change happens, your email program will prompt you for new settings for the incoming and outgoing mail server (and the new passwords, if they have been changed).
Your old mailboxes will now be inaccessible and the new mailboxes will only contain new emails. If you are using a POP connection to download the mails to your computer, the most recent mails will be stored locally, and it is unlikely that mails will get lost. However, it is best practice to try and make this change at a quiet time, in case any mails do fall through the cracks.
In summary, any domain transferrals needs planning and patience, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Some processes do differ between service providers, registrars and types of domains, so make sure that you get the assistance of someone who can see the process through from start to finish.
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