Who owns my domain name?

The answer should always be yourself. Let’s have a look in more detail though.

The concept of domain name ownership can be very difficult. Without legal ownership of your domain name, you could find that you have problems with managing email accounts, handling problems with hosting, accessing your website files, and renewing your domain name, among other things.

You will also find it impossible to personally transfer domain name ownership to anyone else if you sell your business. If your business is online or has a significant online presence, this could severely undermine the value of your business or even prevent a sale entirely.


How do domain name ownership problems happen?

Often, domain name ownership issues are caused by a previous web designer who registered the domain name in their own name instead of the name of the client or their clients company. This is a very common mistake that happens far too often.

If you have a NZ domain name registered on your behalf or take over a domain name from someone else, the registration details should be listed as follows:

  1. The registrar is the company that is authorised by the NZ Domain Name Commission to register the domain name (for example Moreweb). A web designer will normally have an account with a registrar so that they can register the domain name for you.
  2. The registrant is the owner of the domain name. This should be you.
  3. The admin contact is normally where the bills get sent. Sometimes this will be you and sometimes it will be the web designer or host.
  4. The technical contact could be you, your web designer, your host, or the registrar. This is who is meant to sort out any technical problems.

Note that domain name ownership details are often wrong for the admin and technical contacts as well. The registrar details should always be correct. Most importantly the registrant ones.


What happens when web designers go bad?

One of the most frustrating problems with domain name ownership is when a web designer registers a domain name for the customer in their own name and then disappears. Usually, this is because they sold their business or went out of business and when this happens, there is not normally any great motivation on their part to deal with the problems they’ve caused.

Digital assets and property are something we need to get used to in this increasingly technical world. Items like domain names are often very closely tied to our identities, interests, families, income, and other parts of life. We need to think of them as being as important as the physical items in our homes, or our financial assets, and plan to get organised accordingly.

It’s really just a matter of being aware upon setup, and occasionally ensuring that things are up to date – possibly an annual digital checkup is a good practise. For example, at Moreweb we send customers an annual domain ownership data reminder for each domain name.

Check your domain name ownership. You can do this at the DNC website (https://www.dnc.org.nz/). Sorting out any issues now will prevent complications in the future. If you are not sure what to do, feel free to contact us and we can have a look for you.

If all else fails, you can contact the NZ Domain Name Commission for assistance if someone is holding onto your domain name due to a dispute or malpractice.

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