Unfortunately many business owners don’t own their domain name, even if it’s attached to your website. In fact, chances are that neither you nor anybody in your company has ever checked to see who actually owns your domain name.
It is common practice, although not a good one, for domain names to be owed by a web site designer or an Internet service provider. The initial owner (technically called the “licensee”) of a domain name is the person or entity that is listed as the “registrant” on the application for the domain name submitted to the domain name registrar.
This is a significant problem if the business ever decides to move their website to another host, use another designer/developer, or if the person who designed and hosted the site goes out of business. It’s the equivalent of having a consultant or friend register your business name with the state on your behalf. If your name isn’t listed as the owner, you’re not the owner.
Using the Internet, it is very easy to determine who actually owns a domain name. To check the ownership of a domain name, go to the http://www.whois.net/. Simply type in the name of the domain name and the top level domain name such as .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info or .name and click the search button. You want to make sure that you (the business owner or principal) are listed as the registrant. The registrant is the “owner” of the domain name.
Important Note: Any person or entity named as a contact on the Whois database has the power to adversely affect the domain name. Make sure the people who are named as administrative, billing and technical contacts are correct. These people should be trusted individuals or companies that will not use their power as designated contacts to adversely affect the domain name. The billing person should be somebody who can be trusted to make sure the domain name renewal fee is paid before the expiration date.