As you saw in the first article in this series, there are a number of important things that the Contacts can do during the lifespan of a domain name. This section will attempt to explain these functions in a non-technical way.

  1. Changing contact information
  2. Control of the Registrar Lock
  3. Changing Nameservers
  4. Approving transfer of Domain Name
  5. Paying Domain Name fees

Just to recap, here is the table showing the functions that the Account Holder and the legal Contacts can perform.

# Change A/C Details Registrar Lock Control Change Nameservers Approve Transfer Pay the Registrar
Account Holder yes yes yes - -
Admin Contact * - * yes -
Registrant * - * - -
Billing Contact * - * - yes
Technical Contact - - * - -
* - depends

Changing Contact Details

What's important to note here is that none of the Contacts listed can change the Account Holder details (unless they are the Account Holder also).

For the other Contacts, changing contact details usually means:
  • Editing/updating their own address or email information
  • Editing/updating/removing/adding Technical Contact info
  • Editing/updating/removing other Contacts - will depend on the Registrar's rules
  • Checks and balances - some Registrars will email the Admin Contact or Registrant to approve changes made.

Approval of Domain Name Transfer - the Admin Contact

The approval of a transfer of domain name account from one Registrar to another is handled by the Admin Contact.

Most Registrars provide the facility for a transfer of domain name (from another Registrar to them, that is) on the front page of their websites. Absolutely anyone can make a transfer request. If the request succeeds, you will pay the new Registrar for the transfer (usually one years domain name fees in advance) and then you will become the Account Holder for that domain, with a brand new domain name account at the new Registrar's website where you initiated the request from. As Account Holder, you are now in a position to nominate a brand new Registrant, Admin Contact, Billing Contact and Technical Contact.

But hold up! Its not that easy...

When a transfer request is made, the new 'requesting' Registrar sends an email to the Admin Contact of the domain name concerned. To approve the request for transfer, the Admin Contact must click the link in the email within 14 days. (or in some cases not click it, or in some cases 21 days - read the small print carefully!)

You can try this yourself - but you won't get far. Even if the Admin Contact approves your request for transfer, no domain name will be transferred without first unlocking the REGISTRAR LOCK of the current Registrar.

The Registrar Lock

Usually the only person with the authority to unlock the Registrar Lock is the Account Holder. See I told you the Account Holder had superpowers!

So now you can see why the Registrar Lock is a feature of most domain name accounts, and how it puts a 'double safety lock' on the unauthorised transfer of domain names.

But it can also pose another type of problem - if you are both Registrant AND Admin Contact, and it is your intention to transfer your domain name account to a new Registrar, then you will not be able to do that unless the Account Holder agrees to remove the Registrar Lock.

Changing Nameservers

The Nameserver information, present in the domain name account, tells the internet where to go to find your website. Where is your website? More than likely, it is being hosted on the server of a webhosting company somewhere in the world.

There are usually 2 or more nameservers identifying the computers used by the webhosting company - they may look something like this:


When a user types into their browser program, a lookup is performed using a system known as the DNS. The domain name is first looked up to bring back the nameserver information. The nameserver information provides the address to the actual computer that is hosting the files that make up your website. If the lookup is successful, the user will be viewing your webpages inside their browser program. If it's not, the user will get the 'Server not found at' message.

In order to change your website from one webhosting company to another, the nameserver information in your domain name account must be changed to that of the new webhosting company's nameservers. Normally anyone with Access Rights can change the nameserver information.

Go here to get detailed instructions and a video on how to change your nameservers.

Pay the Registrar

This is the job of the Billing Contact. This is really simple: if the bill isn't paid, you will lose your domain name. Period.

It is not in the interests of Resellers not to pay your domain name fees to the Registrar. They usually only suspend payment if you, in turn, have not paid them.

Putting it all together

Now that you understand more about what the Contacts mean, you can look up the Contacts (legal entities for a domain name) using a WHOIS service.

In the next article we'll look at the peculiar case of the IE domain name

Tagged under: Domain Names Legals

Last updated: 15 Apr 2020