Who owns your website domain registrations?

Registering website domains used to be something businesses got quite frantic about. When there were only a few TLDs (e.g. .com, .co.uk, etc), some companies tried to register them all, as they did with generic product types (e.g. blue-widgets.co.uk). Nowadays, with hundreds of TLDs to choose from, owning multiple versions of the domain name is not important. But an audit of what your company owns and who’s responsible for them is very important. It’s not at all uncommon, even in this more sophisticated internet age, for domain names to expire without their owners knowing. Once this has happened, anyone can buy them and it can be very hard to get them back.

And if you lose your domain name, it’s not just the website which stops. All your email does too.

Start with your main company domain name(s) now. Do you know who’s responsible for them? There are loads of “Whois” sites available to give you details of the ownership, like this one. There are two essential things regarding domain names:

  • They must be registered to you or your company – not an agency, or anyone externally; and
  • You must have access to the domain name registration account, through an ID/email address belonging to the company – again, never leave it to an agency, or anyone externally.

It’s amazing how many companies do have their incredibly valuable domain names registered in the name of a third party, or an individual who has left the organisation.

What would you do if you got a message saying: “It looks like our domain name registration expires tomorrow – we need to renew it urgently”? Do you know where you would go to renew it and what account details you’d need to sign in? Put your mind at rest and go there now, to check everything’s in order. While you’re at it, make sure the contact email against each domain is a live one at the company, so you can be sure that any future reminders of renewals being due come to the right people.