How to Determine Who Owns a Domain Name

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the organization that authorizes registrars to issue or assign domain names to public. A registrant is the person or entity who is considered to be the domain name owner authorized to make or request for changes to be made in vital information related to domain name. It is, therefore, critically important to know the “owner” registrant of a domain name and also the person or entity having administrative, billing and technical rights related to domain.

Why is Determining a Domain Name Registrant Important?

Determining a domain name registrant is important for many reasons:

  • The lookup can verify that the registrant details of your personal domains are properly entered. If they are not, you may miss renewal notices, purchase offers, partnership requests and the like.
  • If you are interested in making an offer on an already registered domain name, you can easily lookup contact information, such as the owner’s name, mailing address, email address and telephone number.
  • If you are tying to protect your personal information, a lookup can tell you if the privacy controls you’ve put in place are actually in effect.

What is the Process to Lookup Domain Name Details?

The domain name registration process has been engineered in a very transparent way. Everybody has an open access to obtain information about domain name registrant and the ownership of a domain by just clicking on certain informative links. It also helps in keeping a track of domain name expiry dates and the start date of registration.

The WHOIS Lookup

“WHOIS” is the utility that is used to check or find out the information about a domain name. This gives not only the information of the registrant but also the administrative contact, billing contact, technical contact, domain expiration date and original registration date.

To find the domain name owner information, there are a few very simple and easy steps to follow by using the internet:

  • To check the domain name registrant information simply visit the website such as www.whois.net or web solution providers website like GoDaddy or http://www.tucowsdomains.com.
  • Type in the exact web address or complete domain name of the website you are seeking information for.
  • With a click or two (you might have to prove you’re not a robot), you’ll have the full registrant details.

Verify the Details

You can verify the details given about the domain name. If you find any information incomplete or incorrect, you may initiate a request to the domain registrar to make changes. Sometimes, if the information is not completely available, as many registrars or individuals do not want to share their information completely, you may specifically visit the registrar’s website and find information.

A WHOIS Example

Now, here is a practical illustration of how to determine who owns a domain name. We will take the example of www.DomainSherpa.com as an example website and let us explore as who owns this domain.

Step 1: Begin the WHOIS lookup

Visit a WHOIS lookup service. You can use www.whois.net or, in our case, www.tucowsdomains.com/whois-use-and-information/whoislookup and “Enter Domain Name for WHOIS Lookup”:

How_to_Determine_Who_Owns_a_Domain_Name_Step1

Step 2: Perform the CAPTCHA entry

How_to_Determine_Who_Owns_a_Domain_Name_Step2

Step 3: The privacy paragraph

How_to_Determine_Who_Owns_a_Domain_Name_Step3

Step 4: Domain name registrant information available

How_to_Determine_Who_Owns_a_Domain_Name_Step4

Step 5: Some more registrant information, domain server information, domain name record information

How_to_Determine_Who_Owns_a_Domain_Name_Step5

WHOIS performs the required task efficiently, however, at the same time it should be noted that the information available may be exploited or utilized for spam and other purposes. You may end up receiving emails and unnecessary information from different resources and start filling up your inbox. To get rid of this problem, there are certain tools to help protect your privacy.

As in the case of www.DomainSherpa.com, we are able to see only limited information about the actual owner as the information is camouflaged through a privacy protection service called domain name privacy. Many domain name registrars offer domain privacy to mask the actual information of the domain owner. The privacy feature helps display third party information to safeguard your personal information from publically available information. Personal information is collected by the registrar and is accessible only on request by following certain privacy rules and regulations.

To Summarize

  • Domain name registrant information is available and useful for many reasons
  • The domain name registrant information can be obtained through a WHOIS lookup
  • Your personal information can be protected through a service called domain privacy

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19 Responses to “How to Determine Who Owns a Domain Name”

  1. Omar Saady says:

    Thanks for sharing this useful post

    May I ask you how also know how many visitors a website has or check traffic statics?

    Wait for your reply!
    Thanks
    Omar

    1. Hi Omar,

      Here you go:
      http://www.domainsherpa.com/how-to-find-domain-name-or-website-traffic-information/
      (as an update to this tutorial, SimilarWeb.com is a good tool)

      And for domain names:
      http://www.domainsherpa.com/type-in-traffic-tutorial/

      Best,
      Michael

  2. Ryan says:

    Hi Michael, how do i find out the original creation date of the domain name and history of who has owned it?

    Thanks,

    Ryan

    1. In the whois record, you will see a “Record created on” or “Creation Date” field with a date. That’s the original date it was registered, assuming it didn’t fully expire, was dropped, and then hand registered by someone else (http://www.domainsherpa.com/understanding-the-domain-name-lifecycle/).

  3. Nick says:

    Can i find any domain expiry date?

    1. Yes. Follow the instructions above.

      However, just because you see an expiration date listed as, say, next month, doesn’t mean that it will expire on that day. Current registrants have until (and past in many cases) that day to renew, and many domains are renewed in the last few days before expiration.

  4. Adam says:

    Sorry for the mistakes. I enclose the corrected version:
    “Obviously they know how to do it right. Why they didn’t care with audi.com I will try to find out in contacting them.”

    T. Adam

  5. Adam says:

    Dear Michael, may be it wouldn’t be bad, to renew the information you are giving in the above article. I just tried to find out whether the information you present concerning domainsherpa.com are still valid. I guess you know, they are not.

    Domain Name: DOMAINSHERPA.COM
    Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
    Registrant Name: Michael Cyger
    Registrant Organization: Web X.0 Media LLC

    Well, who is now the owner? The “registrant name” or the “registrant organization?

    Have a look at the following examples.

    audi.com
    registrant name: Richard Zollner
    registrant organization: AUDI AG

    Microsoft.com
    registrant name: Domain Administrator
    registrant organization: Microsoft Corporation

    Volkswagen.com
    registrant name: Domainmaster EZ Mailstop 2w017
    registrant organization: Volkswagen of America

    keytlaw.com
    registrant name: PERFECT PRIVACY, LLC
    Organization: —

    porsche.com
    registrant name: Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Aktiengesellschaft
    registrant organization: Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Aktiengesellschaft

    May be ICANN would give some clear information? But ICANN only informs that “registrant” would be the owner. But who the hell is “registrant”? Is it
    a) the person or organization mentioned in the “name”-field or
    b) is it the one mentioned in the “organization”-field?

    If a) then audi.com and volkswagen.com obviously do not have real owners.

    Exploring the German DENIC I find for audi.de:
    Domaininhaber (= registrant name): AUDI AG

    Obviously the know how to do it right. Why the didn’t care with audi.com I will try to find out in contacting them.

    Kind regards from Germany

    Tim Adam

    1. Hi Adam,

      “I just tried to find out whether the information you present concerning domainsherpa.com are still valid. I guess you know, they are not.”

      The information for the WHOIS of DomainSherpa.com is valid. I’m not sure why you think it isn’t.

      “Domain Name: DOMAINSHERPA.COM
      Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
      Registrant Name: Michael Cyger
      Registrant Organization: Web X.0 Media LLC”

      Exactly. Each registrant has to list a name, and may list an organization.

      “Well, who is now the owner? The registrant name or the registrant organization?”

      The Name who works for or is associated with the Organization.

      Take, for example, if you were to buy a domain name from an individual. If the individual is in control of the email address listed then can can technically transfer the domain name to another entity. Whether it’s legal or not is another story, as the Organization may in fact be the rightful owner of the domain name.

      Any other questions, please let me know.

      Best,
      Michael

  6. david says:

    thank you your article help me alot

  7. Peter says:

    I always use http://whoisping.com/ to find details about domains, online ping and IP blacklisting etc. I found this website useful and cheers for it.

  8. James says:

    Nice article, but if you are a domainer, then main thing you should care about is your time. Use services like http://whob.com/email/ and they will automatically send your email to the domain name registrant/owner.

    @Minh most privacy companies forward your email to the domain name owner.

  9. Kamran says:

    It’s always complex thing for me. You have shared such a nice information thanks your so much for the effort. You just drop me out of complex things.

  10. Minh says:

    Some domain like kiemtiencenter.com that I can’t use whois lookup to ..

    How do i know which company they used to protect domain privacy

    1. You can do a whois lookup at https://whois.domaintools.com/kiemtiencenter.com/

      Then send an email to the “Admin Email” address listed. Hopefully the privacy service will forward your request.

      If that fails or in addition to that option, you can use the contact information/form on the website.

      And if that doesn’t work you buy access to DomainTools’ “whois history” tool (https://research.domaintools.com/research/whois-history/search/?q=kiemtiencenter.com) to find out the email address that was associated with the domain name prior to the domain name being placed under privacy protection.

      Good luck.

  11. I use http://whois.sc/domainname for all my whois lookups. It’s a company called Domain Tools. Cool service. Worth a look at.

  12. Great tutorial on how to do this!

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