GoDaddy’s strict transfer-out policies appear to violate ICANN’s official policy.
I recently sold a domain name through Network Solutions’ Certified Offer Service. As part of the transaction I was required to transfer the domain from GoDaddy to Network Solutions.
Imagine my surprise when GoDaddy denied the registrar transfer to Network Solutions! I’ve owned the domain since January, so it’s well past the 60 day registrar hold for transferring domains. I looked back through some of my readers’ mail and found a person who had a similar problem transferring domains away from GoDaddy. The registrar denied his request because he had changed contact information for the registrant within the past 60 days. I did something similar with the domain I was transferring. I recently changed the email address for all of my domains at GoDaddy to a unique address to keep an eye on Whois spam. I suspected that GoDaddy denied the transfer of my domain for the same reason as my reader – a change to the Whois registrant’s contact information.
I e-mailed GoDaddy asking why the transfer was denied:
I sold the domain —.com and need to transfer the registrar per the agreement. The system says the domain was transferred to GoDaddy within 60 days and can’t be transferred out. This domain has actually been at Godaddy since January. I’ve changed small details of the Whois but nothing else. I’m not transferring it because I’m not happy with GoDaddy, but just because my sales contract requires it. According to
your Domain Name Registration Agreement domains cannot be transferred within 60 days of registration, but it makes no mention of Whois changes.
On XXXinsertdateXXX the domains registrant contact was updated. According to GoDaddy policy the domain cannot be transferred until 60 days has past since the last registrant contact change. This is stated in our legal agreements. You will find the relevant part of this agreement quoted below.
Rejections may include, but are not limited to: The current Registrar rejected the transfer. The original registration took place less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request. The domain name has been placed in a locked status by either the Registry or by the losing registrar. The domain was transferred to Go Daddy less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request. The domain name expired but was not renewed. The domain name expired and was renewed during the forty-five (45) day grace period, and the forty-five (45) day grace period has not yet passed. The Domain Name Registrant was changed less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request. Any pending bankruptcy of the current domain name holder. Any dispute over the identity of the domain name holder. Any situation described in the Dispute Policy. Transfer orders over thirty (30) days old.
You may continue the transfer on XXXxferawaydateXXX provided that the transfer is in accordance with the agreement above.
(editor: GoDaddy did not complete the dates. This response is posted exactly as I received it).
I read and reread the relevant language GoDaddy provided. They are referring to the statement “The Domain Name Registrant was changed less than sixty (60) days prior to the transfer request.â€ To me this means that the actual registrant – your name or company name – has changed, but GoDaddy claims this language means that if you change anything about the registrant, including the email address, phone number, or postal address, then you are changing the registrant.
I know a thing or two about the reasons registrars are allowed to block transfers. So I called GoDaddy and reached a customer service rep who explained that the block was due to changing the registrant’s contact data and this block was required by ICANN’s policy.
That’s wrong. ICANN does not require domain transfers to be blocked if changes are made to the registrant’s data within the past 60 days. In fact, ICANN is clear about the exact reasons a registrar can block a transfer. ICANN’s rules are in place to keep domains secure but prevent unscrupulous registrars from blocking transfers to keep domains under their management. The rules state:
The Registrar of Record may deny a transfer request only in the following specific instances:
1. Evidence of fraud
2. UDRP action
3. Court order by a court of competent jurisdiction
4. Reasonable dispute over the identity of the Registered Name Holder or Administrative Contact
5. No payment for previous registration period (including credit card charge-backs) if the domain name is past its expiration date or for previous or current registration periods if the domain name has not yet expired. In all such cases, however, the domain name must be put into “Registrar Hold” status by the Registrar of Record prior to the denial of transfer.
6. Express written objection to the transfer from the Transfer Contact. (e.g. – email, fax, paper document or other processes by which the Transfer Contact has expressly and voluntarily objected through opt-in means)
7. A domain name was already in “lock statusâ€ provided that the Registrar provides a readily accessible and reasonable means for the Registered Name Holder to remove the lock status.
8. A domain name is in the first 60 days of an initial registration period.
9. A domain name is within 60 days (or a lesser period to be determined) after being transferred (apart from being transferred back to the original Registrar in cases where both Registrars so agree and/or where a decision in the dispute resolution process so directs).
There are two things on this list that GoDaddy can refer to as justification for its policy. First is “Evidence of fraudâ€. But making a small change to the registrant details hardly qualifies as evidence of fraud. A 60 day hold is ridiculous. There are a number of ways GoDaddy can rule out fraud without placing a two month hold on the domain. The second is “Reasonable dispute over the identity of the Registered Name Holder or Administrative Contactâ€. Again, in this case I wasn’t changing the actual registrant, just the contact information. This does not qualify as a “reasonable dispute”.
After talking to a couple GoDaddy reps I decided to call GoDaddy’s Office of the President. I explained my situation to the president’s representative who did some research and finally approved the domain for transfer. She explained that registrars are allowed to add stricter rules to ICANN’s transfer rules.
I disagree. Let’s examine ICANN’s policy one more time:
“The Registrar of Record may deny a transfer request only in the following specific instances.” (emphasis added)
Again, one of the reasons for this policy is to keep registrars from trying to stop you from taking your business elsewhere. GoDaddy’s policy is a clear violation of this policy and has little to do with stamping out fraud. GoDaddy’s policy locks up your domains if:
-You change email addresses
-You correct a misspelling in your postal address
-You change your phone number
It would be one thing if there was a reasonable hold – say 7 days. Or GoDaddy could send an email to the old e-mail address on file if it suspects fraud.
But in this case, it appears that GoDaddy is using underhanded tactics to keep you from switching registrars.
Although GoDaddy finally approved my domain transfer, I spent two hours on my recent vacation talking to its reps before the appropriate action was taken.