It sounds like an obvious question. But you might be surprised to know that over half of small businesses do not own their own domain name. The consequences of which can be a disastrous end to your business at worst, and at best, a weeklong headache and too many calls to GoDaddy (or whoever your registrar is).

Whoever has registered the domain with the registrar, most likely your web manager or a domain reseller, actually owns your website. Meaning you might not be able to determine what information your domain redirects to, who your website’s administrators are, and good luck trying to sell your website when you don’t legally own it.  

If you haven’t taken the time to personally register your domain name, you may not be the legal owner your domain. It might be hard not to, after you’ve footed the bills to build and maintain your website, but try not to panic. There are a few easy steps you can take to ensure your domain is yours.

  1. First, figure out who does own it. You can do this by going to the WHOIS database and typing in your domain. Look at the organization and email fields listed under the “Registrant” and “Administrator” sections. If the organization name or email address isn’t your own, you don’t own your own domain.
  2. If you do not own your domain, the most common scenario is that your web manager/designer/developer, hosting provider, or a domain reseller has registered your domain.
  3. If you do find that you are not the owner, often the best course of action is simply to contact whoever is listed as the owner, and ask them to make you the registrant.

On the other hand, if the transition seems anything less than amicable, than you might need to consider consulting ICANN’s “Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy”  – a service design to help those navigate disputes regarding domain names.

So go ahead, make sure you own your domain name. It’s important. And, if you want to make sure your domain stays in your control and safe from domain name hijackers, you might want to check out SWIM’s online dashboard – a great way to secure and store all your domain info.