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Complex transfers made easy

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180815Throughout the years, we have performed hundreds of thousands of domain transfers. This has provided us with loads of experience on how registries deal with this kind of transaction and particularly which obstacles are placed between the intention to transfer and the actual transfer.

During day-to-day business, domains are transferred one by one, giving you sufficient control concerning the different steps in the process. You can prepare, you can monitor and you can follow up.

As soon as it comes to mass transfers or bulk transfers (moving a number of domains from one registrar to another), all of these obstacles together sometimes grow to a fear against transfers, which is unjustified! In this blog post, I want to travel with you through the developments of the last couple of years and tell you a bit about the developments we made to soften the pain and make bulk transfers as smooth as possible.

A common transfer process

The tricky part of a domain transfer is getting the proof that the transfer is allowed. There are three common ways in which such a proof can be delivered:

  • By means of an authorization code (examples are .nl, .eu, .de and .se)
  • By means of an explicit approval by the domain holder, mostly through e-mail (examples are .es, .fr and .at)
  • A combination of both (examples are .pl, but also all gTLDs like .com)

Of course, exceptions exist. There are registries that require a “push” from the old registrar (.uk), there are registries that allow the new registrar to “pull” a domain without proof (.dk), there are registries that require paper forms (.ru) and there are registries that do not even know about the existence of a transfer (.sr). But in general, the aforementioned methods apply to the majority of domains.

Then we have the registration period: what happens with the expiration date of a domain after transfer? Also here there are three options:

  • The expiration date does not change. Normally this indicates a free transfer. The first payment you do is the moment of domain renewal. If you transfer a domain shortly before its expiration date, be aware of this renewal, which can be due in just a couple of days! Examples are .uk, .nl and .se.
  • The expiration date extends with a year. In other words: the domain transfer comes with a renewal. You pay immediately, but the next renewal is far in the future; at least a year, sometimes even longer for a multi-year registration. Examples are .eu and all the gTLDs.
  • And then there are registries that start counting from ‘now’ again. The new expiration date is one year after the transfer date. In this scenario you can loose registration period if you transfer shortly after the registration or renewal date of a domain. Examples are .de and .fr.

The complexity of the latter two with respect to bulk transfers is that the financial effect can be huge: imagine a transfer of 1.000 .com domains – it will cost you at least $8.000 “now”! Of course, you buy many years with it, but your cash flow can be affected. Or imagine a transfer of 1.000 .de domains – you risk the loss of 1.000 domain years.

This blog post tells you how we have solved these problems.

Registry-supported bulk transfers

Let us start with the simplest way of a bulk transfer: we love registries that understand the need of their registrars and support it out of the box. SIDN: we love you. EURid: we love you. AFNIC: we love you. DNS Belgium: we love you.

The process is as follows:

  • The current registrar approves the transfer by signing a form
  • We import the domains

What? Just two steps? Yes, just two steps. No interaction with the domain holder, no hassling with data, no complaining about unapproved transfers, just perfect.

Over the years we have developed import tools that read all data and use them to import domains, contacts and nameservers into your account. With nearly 200 SIDN bulk transfers and dozens of bulk transfers of other registries, our tools have been completely optimized and such an import can be processed in a couple of minutes.

Note that you do not have to be registrar yourself to benefit from such a bulk transfer: if you register your domains through another registrar, a partial bulk transfer can be performed, transferring only your domains from a bigger portfolio.

The biggest advantages are that all data is copied exactly, it’s done at one moment in time, no changes in expiration dates occur and no further communication is sent to domain holders or other parties.

Transfer robots

Registry-supported bulk transfers are great if you have your own registrar account or if you have a lot of domains in one extension. But what to do with all other domains? If you have 1.000 other domains in 100 different extensions at a registrar like OpenSRS – how can these domains be moved easily?

This question has been asked regularly, and we have found the answer: we developed a series of transfer robots for a wide range of external registrars. The process is as simple as the previous one, just two steps as well:

  • You provide us with access to your account at the other registrar
  • We schedule the transfers and process them silently in the background

As we have access to your account, we are able to copy all required data: contacts and nameservers. We know the expiration date of a domain, so we schedule it shortly before that date to safeguard your cash flow. We control the contacts, so it’s us who approves the transfer without bothering the domain holder and removing the risk of non-approved transfers.

Within a year, all domains will have been moved and the consolidation can be marked as finished. As for the scheduled process, your internal administration remains unchanged and you just continue charging your customers with the same dates you would have done before the consolidation.

There’s just one recent development we cannot control: contact verification… But also here we found a solution, read on!

Scheduled transfers

If a registry bulk transfer or transfer robot is not possible, we can always continue with ‘normal transfers’ made easier. We have developed a transfer tool that accepts a data file (in CSV format) with all domain-related data, accepts transfer dates and schedules all transfers at their respective transfer dates.

This saves you the creation of all objects (domains, contacts) in the Openprovider system. The transfers themselves will be regular transfers, so inform your customers to accept the transfer requests, if the extension requires so!

ICANN’s contact verification

A recent development at ICANN is the requirement of contact verification: each contact used as owner for a gTLD registration is checked against our database. If the e-mail address has not yet been verified, we will send an e-mail to that e-mail address in which we require an affirmative response. If we do not receive one, we are forced to suspend the domain registration.

As this requirement is part of our contract with ICANN, we cannot skip this step but we have worked out a method in which maximum results can be achieved with minimum effort: pre-verification.

The crux of the solution is to bundle all verification requests in a delimited amount of time. For each and every owner contact assigned with the domain names to transfer a verification request is sent on one single date. Your support department may receive many questions about it, but they are prepared for it with knowledge and maybe even additional resources. Of course, you have informed and instructed your customers beforehand, for example via your own newsletter, and customized the e-mail that we send with your own texts.

Within a few days, the majority of verifications will have succeeded. From that moment on, no new verification is required at the moment of transfer and any robot-powered transfers can be processed really silently.

The best thing is: it’s free of any risks. Even if verification fails, there are no domains in Openprovider yet! So we cannot suspend any domain and you can take your time to complete the verification with your customer.

It’s time to act!

As you see, we have all tools in place to make a consolidation as simple as possible. The next step is to investigate your portfolio and contact us to calculate your savings and create a personalized transfer plan. Within a year, the consolidation can be finished with minimal effort from and maximum gain on your side!

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