Trouble transferring a domain away from WordPress.com? Yeah, me too…

Every time I’ve had to transfer a domain name from one place to another, whether for myself or for a client, it’s either a hit or a miss. Either it goes perfectly smooth with no hiccups, or it’s a disaster. Here’s a quick tip to help you avoid any messes when transferring a domain that was purchased through WordPress.com.

Basically there are 3 things you must do in preparation for a transfer request:

  1. Unlock the domain.
  2. Request an authorization code.
  3. Turn off privacy settings.

It is this third item that got me hung up yesterday when my transfer request was refused. Why? Well, because in some cases, if you click the “manage” link to try and change your privacy settings, nothing happens – you cannot change them from the control panel you are directed to through WordPress.com (WordPress admin > Store > Domains > Manage domains). And I didn’t think anything of it, since other registrars don’t necessarily have this feature (usually unlocking the domain is enough).

After a phone call (thank god for 24h call centers), I learned that in order to access these settings, I must log in directly to Domainsbyproxy.com, the company that manages domain registration for Automattic (or possibly a filial, not sure). Of course, you probably don’t have your log in information as it is not the same as that of your WordPress account (of course, that would be too easy). To retrieve your info, go to the log in page and click on “Forgot your login information”.

Once you have access to this site (I’m still waiting), you will be able to turn off privacy settings, allowing the transfer request to go through unhindered. Make sure to validate all emails concerning the transfer to speed things up. Domainsbyproxy uses an address yourdomain.com@domainsbyproxy.com that will arrive in the email account you have on file with them. That means the same email confirmation 2 times – validate both! If you don’t specifically accept the transfer, you will wait 5-10 days, yes DAYS, for the process to follow its natural course.

Why transfer away from a registrar? While it’s true that you can simply change DNS settings on your domain to have it point to your new web host, it doesn’t make sense in most cases. Most hosting plans these days include the cost of domain renewal in the price of the package, so why pay more? Plus, it’s simply tidier to have everything in one spot.

*UPDATE (March 1, 2013):

Note that Domainsbyproxy is NOT a  registrar. They simply provide a privacy service, protecting the personal information of domain owners from the public eye. When you cancel their service, it can take up to 48h to go through. So even if your account with them says CANCELED, and it show PRIVACY OFF in your Automattic control panel, it’s not a done deal until you receive the official email from DBP confirming the cancellation. So DO NOT try and relaunch your transfer request until that time, or it will just be refused again.

Jenny Beaumont

Jenny Beaumont is an Agile Coach and the Director of Delivery at Human Made, makers of Altis DXP. She speaks at conferences around the world (ok, these days only on zoom), and is a former lead organizer of WordCamp Paris and WordCamp Europe.

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