How To Regain Access To A Lost Domain Or Domain Control Panel

Have you lost domain access or can’t remember where you registered with?

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In this post, we discuss who owns your domain, and what to do if you don’t.

When a domain name is registered, the registrant acquires the right to use, renew, restore, or transfer the domain name. Quite often I have clients contact me wanting to get an existing website recreated who have no idea who owns or registered their domain name.

lost domain

There are so many people who do not register their own domain names and instead allow third parties such as web developers and IT support agencies to do this for them. Never do this, always register your own domain names so you have full administrator access. It’s much easier to share access with third parties than it is to try and regain access from them if circumstances change.

Two common issues arise when a domain is registered with a third party as follows:

  1. The domain can be left to expire which means all linked services (website, email etc) go down instantly and (even worse) there is the potential for someone else to then get their hands on your domain.
  2. The second problem is making changes to the domains DNS settings if you want to get a new hosting or email provider.

There are two common scenario I deal with a lot and below are two step by step guide on how to manage both.

3 Steps – What to do if you don’t know or have lost domain access

Step 1 – WHOIS Lookup – Use a tool link the Mac Terminal or MXToolbox to do a lookup on your domain. This will give you the registrar which is the best place to start.

Step 2 – Once you know the registrar search your inboxes from any correspondence from them. You might come across an old registration email or renewal notice. If you know the email address you used to register then you should simply be able to request a password reset via the login form on the site’s customer area to regain access.

Step 3 – If you inbox returns a blank, check your bank statements for payments to the registrar. Domains tend to renew every one, two, five and ten years. You can see the date the domain was first registered on via the WHOIS Lookup.

3 Steps – What to do if someone else has registered your domain

Step 1 – If you know the person/company get in contact with them and request a domain transfer. This is where you can bring a domain over to your own domain registrar (register an account with a provider first).

It is possible that you are unable to contact the account holder or do not have access to the account holding your domain name(s), in these circumstances, you will need to provide the registrar with proof of identity as the owner of the domain name(s).

Step 2 – If you don’t know the person/company then it’s back to the WHOIS Lookup to find the registrar. Once you have this information you are going to have to contact them and regain access request.

Step 3 – All domain registrars are slightly different in what information they require as proof of ownership but here are some examples:

IndividualsYour identity will need to be confirmed, both name and address, as appears on the registrant section on the WHOIS database/lookup before the domain name can be moved into your account. Both need to be confirmed to ensure that only the legal owner of the domain name can gain access.As proof of identity for a domain name registered to an individual, the following can be accepted:

  • Bank Statement (dated within the last three months)
  • Utility Bill (Dated within the last three months)
  • Driving License or Passport – please be aware we will need to see the address too, so additional documentation may be required if using a Passport.
Companies
The company identity will need to be confirmed, both in name and address, and this needs to match the details shown on the whois lookup for the domain name. Access to the domain name can only be given once it has been confirmed that the legal owners are the party requesting. As proof of identity for a domain name registered to a company, the following can be accepted:

  • Bank Statement (Dated within the last 3 months)
  • Utility Bill (Dated within the last 3 months)
  • Companies Incorporation Certificate

If you are supplying an Incorporation Certificate, information held with Companies House will be used to confirm business name and address details, as such these need to match the details shown on the WHOIS Lookup.

Charities
The identity of your charity will need to be confirmed, as well as proof of your role as a trustee of the charity. To do this the name and address of the charity must be shown on the Whois as the registrant of the domain name before the domain name can be moved into your account. Both need to be confirmed to ensure that only the trustees of the charity can gain access.As proof of identity for a domain name registered to a charity, the following can be accepted:

  • Proof of Identity from a trustee (Passport/Drivers license)
  • Proof of appointment as a trustee (Letter from the Charity Commission)
  • Proof of address of the charity (Standard bank statement or Utility Bill)
Schools

If you are contacting us on behalf of a school, your proof of identity should be either a document from the Department for Education or the Education Funding Agency that has both the school’s name and DfE number present. We also accept NCTL numbers from the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

Alongside this, please provide a standard utility bill as proof of address.

In all circumstances, proof of address is required. Only the following can be accepted:

  • Bank Statement (dated within the last three months)
  • Utility Bill (dated within the last three months)
  • Driving License
  • Council Tax Bill
  • HMRC Letter

Please note: Some registrars cannot accept invoices as proof of identity.

This process can take a while to resolve (weeks not days) so it can be very stressful if your website is down because the domain has expired.

The importance of registering your own domain

I really can’t stress this enough, it’s imperative you register your own domains. You want to be able to control it at all times and even if you are the biggest technophobe out there, just get someone else to help you make changes to it but don’t let someone else take control of it.

How to let third-party providers manage your domain safely

The above being said, there are ways for third-party providers like me to manage your domain for you so you don’t have to worry about updating complex settings. Cloudflare is a distributed domain name server which allows me to manage your domain settings from a central location (account). Once hooked up it basically pulls down your DNS information where I can access it. You can always revoke this access though if needed.

Need help with choosing a domain name or registrar?

Get in touch with CEB Creative, I can advise on the best domain name for your business, check if it’s available and recommend a registrar.

Contact me