It is common for domains to be transferred from being handled by commercial providers to being handled through OUCS. The domain transfer process may seem complicated at first but with some preparation, and co-operation from the existing provider, these can be relatively straightforward.

Note that procedures differ markedly between .uk domains and the vast majority of others, to the extent that these use separate sections.

This document is primarily concerned with transfers of the domain registration; that is, changing the organisation responsible for managing ownership of the domain on behalf of the domain owner, for administering renewals and so forth. A separate, but related, issue is that of hosting: provision of the core services associated with the domain (at minimum nameservers and generally other services too).

1. Transfers for .com/.net/.org/.biz/.info/.eu domains

For the vast majority of domains (.com, .net, .org and so forth), there is a common transfer procedure; .uk domains are the exception to the rule and the remaining text in this section does not apply.

OUCS charges for inbound transfers as for domain renewals. Each transfer requires that the domain be renewed by one or more years; there is no additional charge from OUCS for the transfer (but the existing provider may impose its own charges). You may renew domains until up to ten years in the future; transferring a domain with renewal more than nine years away will be charged as for a one-year renewal but some registration time will be lost. OUCS's renewal charges are detailed here.

The first stage in the process should be to contact us to discuss your requirements, confirm prices and to arrange a purchase order.

Some further steps are required before the transfer can be initiated, namely:
  • Verify that the existing contact details for the domain are correct. You can do this via the "whois" program on many systems; alternatively via web interfaces such as http://who.is/. In particular, confirm that email addresses for the administrative contact (and domain owner/registrant, if a separate contact exists) are correct and being monitored. Note that some providers may hide contact details behind "privacy" addresses, or register domains under a generic ISP contact address; in such cases please confirm your requirements with them to ensure that emails related to the transfer receive the appropriate response.
  • The domain must be "unlocked" by the current provider; attempting to transfer a locked domain will result in the transfer being immediately rejected.
  • An authorisation code must be obtained from the current provider. This is a code which must be supplied as part of the transfer process; without it the process will fail. There is no need to supply this code to OUCS; it will be needed by the person approving the transfer, normally the current domain owner.

OUCS can initiate the transfer upon receipt of the purchase order and confirmation that the domain is unlocked and an authorisation code has been obtained. Once OUCS initiate the transfer, an email will be sent by OUCS's registrar (OpenSRS, also known as Tucows) to the current registrant or administrative contact for the domain, directing them to a web interface into which they will be asked to supply the transfer authorisation code and confirm the transfer. Transfers normally complete within a week of initiation; deliberate delays in the system allow for the registrant to change their mind or for the current provider to attempt to "win back" their customer. Upon completion of the transfer, OUCS will notify you and make any other necessary changes to the setup of the domain.

Note that transfers should not be attempted immediately prior to a domain's expiry, and are generally not possible for a period immediately following registration or renewal.

Please note that OUCS have encountered problems on several recent transfers of .eu domains which have resulted in the domain temporarily being unavailable. OUCS will endeavour to rectify such problems as soon as they are reported, but it is recommended that transfers are not done at times where availability is mission-critical. No such problems have been reported with transfers of other domains; we believe this to be a problem specific to interaction between the .eu registry and OpenSRS.

2. Transfers for .uk domains

Transfers of domains under .co.uk, .org.uk and .me.uk use a separate procedure to most other commercially-administered domains. In some ways the procedure is more straightforward. Please contact us to discuss your requirements before beginning the transfer process.

The .uk namespace is administered by Nominet, with registrations handled by one of many registrars, of which OUCS are one. Each .uk domain is normally associated with a particular registrar's Nominet tag; this is a short identifier unique to that registrar. OUCS's tag is, unsurprisingly, "OUCS".

To effect a transfer to the University, all that is required is to ask the current registrar to transfer the domain to the OUCS tag (some registrars may charge for this). Transfers are near-instantaneous, and when complete, OUCS can make any necessary changes to domain delegations, contact information, etc. Certain subsequent changes may incur charges, for instance a change of ownership to the University.

Transfers from the university operate in a similar manner. We will need to know the tag for the registrar to which the domain is being transferred. If the domain is moving from the University nameservers to external hosting, please let us know when that process is complete so that we can remove it from our own systems.

3. Domain hosting

Most commercial providers will, for each domain registration they manage, also offer hosting of core services associated with the domain. These are nameservers (DNS servers authoritative for the domain, necessary for the domain to be accessible on the global internet), almost always a webserver, and often also an email service

Transfers of the domain registration and of the domain hosting are often related but need not be. OUCS can manage registrations for domains hosted elsewhere; alternatively domains can be registered through external providers but hosted wholly or partially via OUCS and other university facilities.

OUCS is happy to allow use of the University nameservers for any domain registered with OUCS but in some cases it may not be advantageous to do so. For instance if all other services within the domain are hosted with an external provider, they may prefer to manage the DNS entries themselves. Note also that OUCS can only offer limited email and web provision for domains which may necessitate hosting within a college/department or through an external provider.

When arranging an inbound transfer, OUCS will need to know whether or not hosting arrangements should also be changed, and arrange to set up the appropriate DNS records if so. Likewise for an outward transfer, please let us know whether the domain will continue to use University hosting.