Who Owns a Domain Name?

Finding an available domain name is getting trickier by the day. Many companies opt to buy a taken domain name from its owner for a heftier fee. You can learn who owns a domain name via a public database. We’ll break down the process for you.

If you’re trying to figure out who owns a domain name and what to do with that information, look no further. In this article, we’ll show you how to determine the domain name owner and how to try and get the name.

Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find a domain name that’s not already taken and is good enough to represent your business online. While finding an available domain name is a cheaper option, sometimes reaching out to a domain owner and making an offer to buy might be the better option. We’ll guide you through the process.

Key Points
– 1,000,000 new domains get registered each month 
– Finding out who owns a domain name can help you buy a registered domain name
– You can find the information via the WHOIS database

Who Is the Domain Owner?

There are two ways to look at who owns a domain name. When you want to create a website, you need to visit one of the accredited registrars and register your domain name.

Technically, the registrar is the owner of the name. When you register, you buy the rights to use the name for a determined period of time. While you can extend the subscription infinitely, it’s never yours completely. Without such a model, the internet would be littered with inactive websites that nobody can access again.

On the other hand, when you buy a domain name, you have the sole right to use it, and as long as you renew your registration, nobody can take it away from you. You become the  owner of it, and you can use it as you see fit. 

For example, you can leave it unused, create a website for your business, or sell it to someone else. There are domain-flipping companies that register a domain name only to resell it for a higher price.

MORE: Learn how to determine the value of a domain name

Length of Domain Ownership

The length of domain ownership is the same as the length of the registration. The usual practice is to register a domain name for a year, but many registrars offer registration periods of up to 10 years.

If you want to acquire a domain name that’s taken, you should first check its length of ownership. Should it be close to expiration, you can wait and see if the current owner decides against renewing. This would make the domain name available and cheaper to obtain.

How to Find Out Who Owns a Domain Name

When you choose a domain name, you need to check its availability, i.e., see who owns it (if anyone). You can do that by:

  • Site-searching on Google: Type in “site:yourChosenDomainName.com” and see if any results show up. While this will give you direct links to the website if it exists, it still doesn’t mean the domain itself is available. Someone can register the name and not make it public.
  • Use a domain availability checker tool: Also known as a WHOIS checker, these tools will show you whether the name is registered or not and display information about the owner

You can find many of these tools online, or you can use ours for free:

When you type in a name you’re interested in, you’ll see two possible results:

  1. If the name is available, you’ll be able to click on a Register link that will take you to a registrar’s purchase form.
  2. If it’s taken, you’ll see a WHOIS link that will let you know whether the name is up for sale (and at what price).

Contacting Domain Owner

Even if the name is not up for auction, you can still try to obtain it. To do that, you need to do as follows:

  1. Visit who.is,
  2. Enter the domain name you’re interested in,
  3. Find contact information (phone number or email address),
  4. Ask for the domain name’s availability.

When you look up a domain name on WHOIS, some of the information you’ll find include the following:

  • Hosting server
  • Transfer status
  • Length of ownership
  • Registrant contact information
  • Domain name system (DNS) records

In some cases, the contact information will be private. When this happens, they usually list a masked email address that seems fake, but you can use it to reach out to the owner via proxy. If no contact information is available, you can find it elsewhere. Try finding the owner on social media or visit the contact section on the website.

What Is WHOIS?

WHOIS is a public database of all information collected during the registration process of a domain name. The database gets new information added whenever an owner updates their domain name’s DNS settings.

The International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) runs the WHOIS database that’s been in use since 1982. The purpose of WHOIS is to be able to determine the ownership of a website. It helps companies buy taken domain names, as well as law enforcement find the source of illegal information, spamming attacks, and so on.

When you register a domain name, you need to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

While you can mask the information, once they enter the WHOIS database, it becomes public knowledge.

Why Check Domain Owner Information

According to some estimates, there are 250,000+ new websites every day. Although more than 80% of them are inactive, the domain names are still taken, and you need to obtain them to be able to create your website.

Finding an available domain name that would adequately represent your business is becoming harder and harder, especially if you want to choose a common domain type, such as .com, .net, .co, and .us. It’s getting difficult to find a name even with a more specific trending top-level domains (TLD) like .io or .ai.

MORE: Discover the most popular country-code TLDs of 2023

If you want to acquire a taken name, you’ll need to find its owner’s information to be able to contact them. Still, that’s not the only reason you’d want to check who owns a domain name. Other reasons may include:

  • Make sure your information is accurate,
  • Contact the owner about products or services,
  • Verify the authenticity of information before doing business with someone,
  • Report a technical issue.

MORE: Learn about domain trademarks

Consider an Alternative Name

If you find a domain name that’s ideal for your business but taken, you can consider buying it. However, this is usually a costly process. You can end up spending thousands of dollars on a domain name, and you should consider whether that’s a sensible business decision.

Check out our video where we break down the price of a domain name and what the most expensive names went for.

If you don’t have a budget for a purchase, you can still find an available domain name that’s memorable, easy to spell, and representative of your business. Use our AI-powered domain name generator to get 1,000+ domain name ideas, and the tool will check availability instantly.

MORE: Domain transfers

Takeaway Points

When you want to set up a website, chances are, the name will be taken. In fact, every two-, three-, and four-letter dot-com domain is off the market. If you want to acquire the rights to use the name, you must contact the website owner and make an offer.

Finding out who owns a domain name is easy; the hard part can be convincing them to sell the name to you. If you don’t want to pay over the odds for a name, you can find a catchy alternative using our domain name generator.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You can find the contact information of a domain name owner by searching the WHOIS database that’s available to the public for free. Visit the WHOIS website or use a reputable availability checker tool to find the information.

When you register a domain name, it’s mandatory that you make your ownership information publicly available. The information includes the owner’s name, address, email address, and phone number. This way, the public (and law enforcement) can reach out to the owner for whatever reason, such as offering to buy the name.

Anyone can register a domain name and leave it unused, but they would still have the sole rights for its usage. ICANN regulates unregistered domain names, and you can use registrars to register the name for a period of time.

The WHOIS database stores information about domain names and their owners. The database allows network administrators to fix technical issues and maintain stability. Additionally, it allows users to learn about domain owners and contact them.

Every registered domain name has an owner that can renew their ownership once the registration period passes. Unclaimed domain names are not owned by anyone, and you need to pay registration fees to a registrar to be able to make a name your own, i.e., register your ownership in the public domain name registry.

If you want to own a domain name that’s already registered, you need to reach out to the current owner and make an offer to buy the rights to use the name. If you already own the domain name, and someone steals it from you, you can contact your registrar and file a complaint.


Miloš Soro

Miloš Soro

Miloš Soro is a content writer dedicated to the technical side of running a business. He is our expert on domain names, eCommerce, and product development. Soro combines his six years of writing experience with an educational background in IT and is interested in the latest technology trends to provide his readers with the latest insights.

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