Frequently Asked Questions

The NearlyFreeSpeech.NET FAQ (*)

Domain Registration (*)

How do I change the name servers of a domain registered here?

  1. Visit the Domains panel.
  2. Select the "Manage" link under the "Registrar" column for the relevant domain.
  3. On the Registration Details panel, in the "Registration Details" box, on the "Name Servers" row, select the "Edit" button.
  4. Decide whether you want to use our DNS service.
    • If so, choose "Set up DNS and name servers automatically."*
    • If you want to use third-party DNS, choose "I want to specify my own name servers."

* If you have already enabled our DNS and just need to have your assigned name servers listed on your domain registration, any existing custom DNS records you have added to our system will be preserved.

Please keep in mind when changing name servers that most registries publish DNS records with 48-hour time-to-live (TTL), so it may take up to two days for name server changes to fully propagate.

What are the steps involved in an inbound domain transfer?

Each inbound domain transfer from another registrar has the following steps:

  1. Verify that you have an account with sufficient funds available to make the transfer.
  2. Make sure the domain is eligible for transfer. (I.e. that it has not changed ownership or been registered, renewed, or transferred in the past 60 days.)
  3. Unlock the domain at the current registrar.
  4. Obtain the transfer code (also known as "auth info code" or "EPP code" or "transfer secret") from the current registrar.
  5. Make sure that the current registrar has a valid email address for the domain's administrative contact and that you know what that address is.
  6. If you will be switching to our DNS service:
    1. set that up first, then
    2. update your name server settings at your current registrar to match those shown on the DNS information page for your domain.
  7. Place the transfer order from the Domains panel.
  8. The info panel for your domain will show that it has an Action Status of "Transfer waiting for Admin Contact Approval."
  9. Check the email for the domain's administrative contact for a message with a link to a web page where you can approve the transfer.
  10. Approve the transfer on that page.
  11. The "Registration Details" page for your domain will show that it has an Action Status of "Transfer waiting for Losing Registrar Approval."
  12. Wait up to seven days for the current registrar to release the domain.
  13. When the transfer is finished, the Action Status and Transfer Status entries will disappear and be replaced by one Status entry that says "Active."
  14. If the transfer fails, it may linger in our system for a bit, but it will ultimately be refunded and the "Registration Details" page for that domain will be completely removed so you can try the transfer again.

These are the high-level steps. This section of the FAQ contains many other entries that provide detailed information for the various steps.

I want to transfer a domain to NearlyFreeSpeech.NET. Will my site/DNS/email go down if I do?

In most cases there will be no disruptions. The only thing that might be interrupted would be if you are using DNS service with the current domain registrar. It's possible they will terminate that service upon transfer of the domain, so you might want to switch the DNS service either to us or a third party before you transfer the domain to us.

Assuming that your DNS is valid and continues to operate, there should be no interruptions in any services tied to that domain during the transfer.

I have a domain with a proxy privacy registration service. Can I transfer it to NearlyFreeSpeech.NET?

It depends.

When you place an order for a domain transfer, the registrar sends out an email to the current administrative contact's email address requesting approval of the transfer. Some proxy registration services automatically discard this message, making it impossible for you to transfer your domain away. Your only option is to cancel the privacy service before initiating the transfer, thus exposing your personal information. Unless you are willing to temporarily forego your privacy you can never switch away from that registrar, which is why we call this situation "extortion by proxy."

To avoid delaying your transfer, we strongly recommend that you cancel any proxy registration service before you initiate the transfer. Since not all changes happen immediately, you may wish to consult the whois information for your domain to make sure it has been cancelled before placing your transfer order.

If you have already placed your transfer order and you find yourself in this situation, you will have to wait for the transfer to fail (usually seven days from the time you place the transfer order). See this related FAQ entry for complete details.

Our members have reported encountering this problem with most proxy registration services. (Naturally, RespectMyPrivacy does not have this limitation, as it is designed to respect your privacy, not prevent you from controlling or transferring your domain.)

Can I add or remove RespectMyPrivacy on a domain I already registered here or transferred?

Yes, you may use our member interface to add or remove RespectMyPrivacy service on any domain registered through NearlyFreeSpeech.NET at any time, as long as the registration is not expired.

To add it: Visit the Domains panel. Under the "Registrar" column, select "Manage" for the relevant domain. The Registration Info panel for your domain will have an "Add RespectMyPrivacy" action in the "Actions" box.

To remove it: Visit the Domains panel and, under the "Registrar" column, select "Manage" for the relevant domain. The Registration Info panel for your domain will have a "Remove RespectMyPrivacy" action in the "Actions" box.

What happens to my domain's name server settings during a transfer?

Your name server information is not updated during a domain transfer. To avoid problems, we strongly recommend that you update your name server information at your old registrar before you initiate a domain transfer.

If you are obtaining DNS from your old registrar and you don't update your name servers, they will probably remove your DNS service when they process your transfer. This typically manifests as your domain suddenly going to the old registrar's parking page or failing outright after the transfer completes.

To find out how to update your name servers on another registrar's system before a transfer, contact them directly.

If you have already transferred a domain without changing the name servers and you now need to update them, please see this related FAQ entry.

I let my domain expire a while ago. Now I'm trying to renew it and I get "renewal failed." Why?

If you let your domain expire, you can usually renew it as normal during the renewal grace period. After that, it moves into the redemption period ("queued for deletion" or "pending delete restorable"). Such domains can often be restored, but the desire to do so must be communicated manually all the way down the chain from you to the TLD registry, who must then perform the recovery by hand. For this reason, they charge a hefty fee for such recoveries, which we must pass along. (Or so the story goes. It used to be a manual process on the part of the registry and registrar. We're pretty sure they automated their part long ago and just conveniently "forgot" to adjust the fee accordingly.)

The fee to restore a domain is shown on our public site. For the most common top-level domains, the automated restore fee is $61 but it can vary widely for other top-level domains. We do not profit from this, nor do we have any control over the restore process. We are merely passing along our costs. It is typically not necessary, but you can also request a manually-assisted restore through our assistance request system; the manual restore cost is $5.00 higher than the automated restore cost to cover our manual processing time. (This extra cost for a manual restore is waived for subscription members.)

What does this mean? If your domain has expired and is now past the grace period, you have two options:

  1. Pay the stiff restoration fee to have your domain manually recovered.
  2. Wait for the domain to be completely deleted and then try to re-register it.

If you want to restore a domain, use the "Restore" button on the "Status" line of the "Registration Details" box of the "Registration Details" panel for your domain in our member interface. If there is no "Restore" button there, the domain is not in a restorable status.

If you choose to wait, you risk the domain being registered immediately upon deletion by domain profiteers. The chance of this happening is based on the domain's previous popularity and public perception of its traffic stats (as determined by sites like Alexa). If a profiteer registers the domain, they will often want hundreds or thousands of dollars to sell it back to you.

If you choose to pay the redemption fee, it takes 1-2 days before you can use the domain again. As with all renewals performed after the expiration date, there is no way to speed this up.

Neither choice is attractive, which is why we recommend against letting your domain registration lapse unintentionally. If a domain you want to keep expires, renew it immediately. But try to avoid letting important domains expire at all. There is no penalty for early renewal, and we offer domain auto-renewal for critical domains that must not be allowed to expire.

If you are in this situation and want to pay the redemption fee, make sure you have the funds on deposit and open an Assistance Request as soon as possible so we can initiate the process.

Note: Domains in the "queued for deletion" state cannot be restored; you have to wait (up to seven days) for them to move to "pending delete restorable." Once a domain moves from "pending delete restorable" to just "pending delete" it is too late; the domain can no longer be restored by any force, and must be pursued as a new registration once the deletion is completed.

Is NearlyFreeSpeech.NET an ICANN-accredited registrar?

No, we are not. We have integrated the registration services of Public Domain Registry, an ICANN-accredited domain registrar, into our member interface to provide domain registration. Public Domain Registry enables us to offer great prices and, more importantly, enables us to support our members ourselves, all the way through the domain registration process.

We have on several occasions considered ICANN accreditation and decided against it. The development effort required to individually integrate different systems for each registry would significantly detract from our core mission to develop the best possible web hosting. It would also incur a lot of development expense and accreditation costs to recoup, which for a company of our relatively small size would most likely translate to several years of higher prices for domain registration. And yet, our domain registration service would be essentially identical to what we can already offer. Since the actual service for any given TLD is ultimately provided by the registry for that TLD, domains don't offer a lot of room for innovation at the registrar level. Charging significantly higher prices for the same service -- or, at best, maybe 1% better -- doesn't sound that great.

In addition to that, we sort of like our current position. With few exceptions, the domain registration industry is dominated by large players locked in a mortal race to the bottom of the barrel in terms of price and quality. They can and do make mistakes and cause problems for their customers. This is particularly visible in how they handle complaints. A billion dollar company making $0.05 off of a domain didn't get to be that size because they keep a team of lawyers on standby to scrupulously hold every complaint about every domain to the highest legal standard. If your registrar makes a mistake or a dumb decision... and they all occasionally do... you won't have their entire executive & technical staff on your contacts list. We do. And if we agree it's a dumb decision, we do not hesitate to use those contacts to "advocate vigorously" (and very, very effectively) for our customers on those rare occasions when things go awry. In fact, our registrar has learned to contact us with complaints about domains registered through us before they do anything, rather than after the fact, so we've even been able to head stupidity off at the pass more than once. Don't underestimate the power of having an 800 pound freedom-loving gorilla in your corner! (But don't overestimate it either. Mistakes and bad calls do happen, but they're rare; when a domain gets suspended or cancelled for good reason, the gorilla is totally fine with it.)

So at this time ICANN accreditation does not make a lot of sense for us. We do review the situation periodically and if the math ever gives us a different answer, we will definitely act accordingly.

If I still have time left on my existing domain registration with another registrar, can I keep that time if I transfer the domain to NearlyFreeSpeech.NET?

Yes. Note that if you just registered or renewed it recently, you'll have to wait until the sixty-day waiting period is up before you can transfer it to us or another registrar.

If 60 days have already elapsed since you registered or renewed it, you can transfer it, and you'll not only keep your existing time you already paid for with the current registrar, but we'll also give you an additional year, starting from the current expiration date, as part of the transfer. (However you cannot cause a domain registration period to exceed 10 years, so if your domain is already registered for 9.5 years, and you transfer it, it would be set to the 10 year period and the remaining six months would be lost.)

Do note that if you prepaid for another registrar's privacy service, they are unlikely to refund that to you, so that money would probably be lost.

Will you remind me before my domain expires?

We offer three renewal settings, which can be selected or changed at any time via the Renewal Monitor or the info panel for the domain:

If you select automatic renewal, your domain will automatically renew and you will be charged for the renewal, as long as your account balance is high enough. If your account has insufficient funds to process the renewal our system will keep trying once per day until you disable auto renew, the domain expires and is deleted from our system, or you deposit enough funds for the renewal to succeed. Each time our system attempts to auto-renew a domain, you will receive an email with the results (success or failure). This means you will get daily emails when a domain is about to expire (and for some time afterward) if you do not have enough funds available. Remember that domain renewals are non-refundable, so be sure that you only enable this setting if you are sure you want the domain to auto-renew.

If you select manual renewal, you will receive email reminders, beginning a week prior to your domain's expiration, but since domain registration is so important, we encourage you to have your own reminder, in case ours get lost or misfiled as spam.

If you select not to renew, you may still renew the domain at any time, but it will not automatically renew, nor will you receive any reminder emails. This option is most appropriate for domains that you intend to let expire.

Note that in addition to whatever settings you have with us, ICANN mandates three additional reminder emails be sent; one 30 days before your domain expires, one 7 days before, and one when it expires. There is no way to control or suppress these messages, because ICANN feels they know better than you (or we) what sort of reminders you should be sent about your domains.

Why is my domain transfer taking so long?

The reason for this depends on the domain transfer status.

First and foremost, if your domain transfer status is "Transfer waiting for Admin Contact Approval" then you need to take action. Check the domain's current administrative contact email address for a confirmation message with a link to a site where you must choose to approve or decline the transfer. If you haven't received this message, you can resend it from our UI, but please make sure you're checking the right email address. If we don't get confirmation within five days, the transfer will fail.

Once you confirm the transfer, any domain registrar is entitled to stall an outbound transfer for up to seven days. If your domain is in this state, it will show up in our system as "Transfer waiting for Losing Registrar Approval."

Some registrars simply make you wait the full period. Other registrars offer a way to expedite the transfer from their site, even if they send you an email saying you don't need to do anything. However, of these, a few registrars don't actually implement anything as a result of approving the transfer and still make you wait. Some registrars don't impose any additional delay at all; we have seen people place transfer orders that were fully completed within hours, while many others have to wait the full seven days every time.

Because this delay is imposed by the registrar you are transferring away from, we have no control over it and cannot help to expedite your transfer.

A much less common domain transfer status is "Could not Fetch Current Administrative Contact Email Address. Will attempt again every hour." This means there is a problem retrieving the admin contact email address from the domain's current registrar. This is an internal problem related to the registry protocol (EPP) and can occur even if the whois information appears correct. This status is typically auto-correcting within 12-24 hours and no action needs to be taken on your part and nothing you or we do can speed it up. In some very rare cases, it will take too long and the transfer will fail. If that happens, simply wait to be refunded and try again; generally the transfer will go right through on the second attempt. If this happens twice, try changing the administrative contact address if possible.

Should a transfer fail for any reason, we will notify you promptly via email.

What is a push transfer?

If you are transferring a domain to or from another NearlyFreeSpeech.NET member, follow our usual internal transfer process. This entry applies only to domains being transferred to or from another registration service provider that uses the same registrar that we do.

According to our registrar, this process is no longer used. To transfer a domain to or from another registration service provider that uses the same registrar we do, just follow the regular inbound domain transfer or outbound domain transfer process. Only follow the instructions below if that is unsuccessful.

A push transfer is a special type of intra-registrar domain transfer. Most transfers are initiated by the new registrar/registrant (i.e. the domain is "pulled" from the old registrant to the new one). However, there are two cases where the domain can be "pushed" to the new registrant from the old one:

  1. You previously registered the domain with another company that uses the same underlying domain registrar (Public Domain Registry) that we use, and would like to transfer it here.
  2. You previously registered the domain through us, and would like to transfer the domain to another company that uses the same underlying domain registrar (Public Domain Registry) that we use.

For the first case, you'll need to submit an assistance request including these things:

We will provide you with a unique customer username and ID number. (The "customer username" looks like an email address, but isn't.) You must take both of those and go back to your existing registration provider and initiate the "move services" action. Sometimes they offer this functionality through their control panel, and sometimes you will have to ask them to do it for you. (And sometimes their first-level techs may not be familiar with the process -- you may need to escalate a bit.) Once you have completed the transfer, you should reply back to us so we can confirm receipt of the domain and add it to your control panel, otherwise it may take a day or two to show up.

The second case is similar to the first, but reversed. You must get open an assistance request containing:

We will take care of moving the domain to the other registration service provider for you. And, unlike the second case, you won't ever have to argue with anyone here about whether what you're asking for is really a thing.

Make sure the customer username and ID you are given is unique to you. If you are given a "generic" username that belongs to the person/company, you may be deleting a vital record showing that you are the rightful registrant of the name. If you request such a transfer and lose your domain as a result, we will be unable to assist you.

Again, push transfers are never necessary without a specific reason, and although "we use the same registrar" used to be such a reason, it isn't anymore. If someone insists otherwise and you still want to transfer the name to them, we can do it if it you provide all the necessary information. But any request that you perform a push transfer is a cause for concern.

In all cases, standard push transfers do not cost anything, and do not extend the registration time of the domain. You can renew the domain before or after the transfer if you want to extend the registration time. Expired or suspended domains usually cannot be pushed.

Why is the domain I transferred to NearlyFreeSpeech.NET not pointing to my site?

If you transfer the domain without first updating the name servers, this can happen even if you have set up your DNS here. Your domain will continue to point to the old DNS servers until you update it.

To update the domain:

  1. Go to the Domains panel and, under the "Registrar" column, choose the "Manage" button for that domain. This will take you to the "Registration Details" page.
  2. If your domain is locked, the "Actions" box will only show "Unlock this domain." Unlock it if it's locked.
  3. Return to the "Registration Details" page and, in the "Actions" box, click "Edit Name Servers."
  4. Select "Set up DNS and name servers automatically" on the following page.
  5. Lock your domain, if desired, to help prevent hijacking.

What happens to my domain after it expires?

The first (and possibly most important) thing that happens when your domain expires is that it stops working. Its name servers are withdrawn from the registry's master DNS servers and replaced with "parking" records by the registrar.

These parking records will cause ads to be shown on your domain. (This unfortunate policy is ubiquitous in the wholesale registrar industry that we have to use to register domains. It is not something we have control over, and not something we profit from.) Due to the 48-hour TTL (time-to-live) records used for name server glue records by the domain registries, these ads may continue to display for up to 48 hours after an expired domain is renewed.

In addition, at the time of expiration, the domain's publicly-visible contact information becomes frozen and cannot be changed under most circumstances. This has implications for domains with RespectMyPrivacy.

After expiration, your domain enters the "renewal grace period." This is (usually) a 30-day period* during which the domain can be renewed at the regular cost. If you renew during this period, your domain will be reactivated immediately, but it can take up to 2 days for the renewal to be visible all over the Internet.

After the renewal grace period, the domain enters the "redemption grace period," during which its status will be listed as "queued for deletion" or "pending delete restorable." During this period, usually 30-35 days**, the domain can still be renewed, but it costs a lot more.

(Any renewal during either grace period will be effective as of the original expiration date; you can't get extra time by renewing after the domain expires, nor do you lose time by renewing early.)

After the redemption grace period, the domain enters the "pending delete" status, where it typically remains for five days. It cannot be renewed during this period. After that, the domain is really, really gone and is free to be re-registered. Thus, the average domain can linger for as long as 75 days after deletion.

For awhile, it was the case that virtually every deleted name was instantly snapped up by speculators, but as of August 2008, that seems to be somewhat less common than it was. Nonetheless, the more valuable your domain is, the more crucial it is that you not take the chance.

*The length of the grace periods is not set by us and changes from time to time without notice to us. Thus we can't guarantee the lengths referenced here. Renew your domain as soon as you can if you care about it.

**Redemption grace period lengths also vary by TLD. For example, the .NAME domain currently provides only a five-day redemption grace period.

Why am I still paying for RespectMyPrivacy service on my expired domain?

The purpose of RespectMyPrivacy is to keep your contact information out of the public WHOIS database while still permitting you to be contacted if necessary. Expired domains persist in that database, complete with publicly visible contact information, for a really long time before they are finally deleted.

Once your domain is deleted, RespectMyPrivacy will be automatically cancelled.

To remove RespectMyPrivacy from your domain, see this FAQ entry.

What does the error "The name server modification failed." mean?

If you receive this error while attempting to make changes to your domain's name servers, it means the registrar rejected the names you provided. There are several reasons why this can happen:

(Where possible, our system will give you the best information it can about the reason for the problem.)

These are pretty self-explanatory, except for the requirement that name servers be registered. If you want to use a name server like ns1.example.com, that name needs to be registered as a child name server (along with its IP address) by the registrant of example.com in order to create the necessary NS pointer records ("glue records") at the gTLD registries. If you got these name server names from someone else, check with them to ensure the names have been registered as name servers. If you registered the domain containing the name server names here and now need to create new child name servers, see this FAQ entry for instructions.

Unfortunately, the error response they return is often neither human nor machine readable, so it does not indicate which of these is the case in a way we can automatically display. (Note: this issue is substantially less prevalent than it used to be.) If you are a subscription member and you do hit an error our system cannot decode, we can manually look it up for you in our logs and convert it to a human-readable explanation; just open a support issue.

Can I create child name servers (glue records) within my domain?

Our domain registration services are designed and intended to be used in conjunction with our hosting services. Child name server records (AKA glue records) are used only when you are maintaining your own dedicated DNS servers, and therefore are not needed or used by the vast majority of our hosting customers. Consequently, we do not provide this feature via our member interface. (Although if you have any, they will be shown on the "Registration Details" page for your domain.)

However, if you have a need for child name server records in your domain, send us an assistance request containing the hostname and IP address(es) for the desired record(s). You will be charged a nominal fee (usually $0.50 - $1.00 depending on the number of changes) to cover the admin time required to manually perform these changes on your behalf, although this charge is waived if you have an active subscription membership. Please make sure your domain is unlocked when requesting child name server maintenance, and that you let us know you are aware of the extra charge so we don't have to redirect you to this FAQ entry.

We support IPv4 (A) and IPv6 (AAAA) glue records.

What's the maximum number of years for which I can register a domain name?

The maximum is ten (10) years in all cases. In the case of transferring a domain to us and getting the additional year we include, if you already have more than 9 years left on the existing registration, you would receive from us approximately whatever additional amount of time would bring the total to ten full years, i.e. since you can't go over 10 years, we would give you less than a full additional year.

How I do I get the transfer code for a domain registered here?

To transfer your domain to another registrar, you will need a transfer code, also known as an EPP code, auth info code, or transfer secret.

To get the transfer code for a domain registered here:

  1. Go to the domain's "Registration Details" page, reachable by selecting the "Manage" button for that domain in the "Registrar" column on the Domains panel.
  2. Make sure your domain is unlocked. If it isn't, stop and do that first.
  3. Select the "Retrieve Transfer Code" action from the "Actions" box.

If you intend to transfer a domain to another registrar, or if you do not see the "Retrieve Transfer Code" action after unlocking your domain, please see this related entry.

Do I need to put valid contact information on my domain registration?

The requirement for valid contact info in your domain whois information is an ICANN requirement, not a requirement of our TACOS. Although historically this requirement was only enforced in response to complaints, that is no longer the case. In response to pressure from the world's law enforcement agencies, ICANN has expended no effort at all defending your online privacy and quite a bit generating new procedures for validating domain contact information.

Anytime you transfer a domain or modify its contact information, a verification email will be sent to the registrant's contact email address containing a verification link. If you do not verify the email address (by clicking the link) a couple of reminders will be sent, but if verification isn't completed within 15 days, the domain is required to be suspended. This is really bad. Even after verification is completed, if the domain has been suspended, it can take up to 48 hours to restore full functionality.

If you have RespectMyPrivacy service for your domain, the verification email will come to your member contact address.

This is not a policy we have control over. We can't make exceptions, override it, or change how it's done. It applies to all domain registrars equally.

Related to this, there are a couple of other situations where domain contact information problems can crop up:

Usually in these cases, since the registrar can't reach the domain contact, they alert us before suspending the name, but the steps vary based on the circumstance.

It has always been important to maintain valid contact information for your domains. With these changes, it is more important than ever.

Where are the actions for editing my registered domain?

The actions for editing a registered domain are found on the domain's "Registration Details" page. On the Domains panel, click the "Manage" button in the "Registration" column for the relevant domain.

When a domain name is locked to prevent hijacking, it may not be transferred. Consequently, transfer-related actions will not appear if the name is locked. If you need to make these kinds of changes, unlock the domain first, and these options will appear in the "Actions" box.

What happens if my domain transfer fails?

As soon as our system records the failure of the domain transfer, you will receive a refund of the transfer cost and you can try the transfer again.

We are not automatically notified of transfer failures, so our system polls for them periodically. It may take an hour or two after the failure for our system to learn about it and process the refund. Between the time when the transfer fails and the time our system is notified of it and processes the refund, your transfer status will report as "deleted."

Please note that if your transfer fails you cannot re-attempt the transfer of that domain name until the refund is issued. Also, you should not re-attempt the transfer until you have understood or resolved the issue that prevented the previous transfer.

Will you be adding additional top-level domains to register?

We are in the process of adding some of the more popular new gTLDs introduced as competition for the traditional com/net/org/biz/info/name crowd. If there's a gTLD you're interested in that you don't see on our list, feel free to ask about it in our forum.

However, we are very hesitant to allow adding ccTLDs (the two-letter TLDs assigned to individual countries based on their ISO country code — all two-letter TLDs are ccTLDs) for countries other than the United States due to concerns about giving those countries political, economic, or legal leverage over us or our members. Most ccTLD operators are part of or run on behalf of the country's government, and they typically include something in their registrar agreement about "Paragraph 1219: You will follow all of our country's laws." and "Paragraph 2751: The ccTLD operator reserves the right to terminate this agreement at any time for any reason." Either could cause serious problems for us. Suppose, for example, that we offered registrations in Elbonia's .eb ccTLD and accumulated a few thousand .eb domains. Then suppose that the Elbonian government decided they didn't like a site we host that criticized their Grand Vizier's hat, and told us to get rid of it or have all those domains seized.

While that's a little farfetched, we have had conflicts with foreign governments over member sites, and handing significant leverage to people who may not have our members' best interests at heart doesn't seem like a good idea.

Many ccTLD's also have weird, special requirements and procedures that would require a lot of extra work for us to support. (Looking right at you, .uk, and your IPS tags!) That may not sound like a big deal, but "extra work" for us translates directly to "extra cost" for you. Some ccTLDs even have complex legal requirements that the registrar, the name servers, or the registrant be physically present in that country that would be difficult or impossible for us to meet, even if the issues above weren't a concern.

Can you send the domain transfer approval to a different email address?

No, we cannot. The administrative contact must approve the transfer by responding to an email message, and the email address that must be used is the one that is active at the time the transfer is initiated. It would facilitate domain hijacking if there were a way to start a transfer and then override who approves it.

If you have started a domain transfer using incorrect contact information, you have the option of requesting that it be cancelled by using the "Cancel Transfer" link on the domain's registration information page, which is accessible from the Domains panel, using the "Manage" button under the "Registrar" column for that domain.

If you don't cancel it, the transfer will fail on its own and be refunded, which generally takes seven days from the initial transfer request.

In either event, you can retry the transfer as soon as it fails and you see the refund in your account balance. Make sure you have the correct administrative contact email address before retrying the transfer!

Be careful to update the administrative contact without altering the registrant information. If the registrant information is updated, your old domain registrar may refuse to transfer the domain for 60 days. (They're not really supposed to, but sometimes it happens anyway.)

I have a bunch of domains to register/renew/transfer. Can you help?

Yes. If you have subscription membership and more than 10 domain registrations, renewals, or transfers to process in a single batch, you can create a list of domain commands and paste them into an individual support issue. We'll run them for you, charge you accordingly, and send you back the results. Please do not send us a list with less than ten actions, or a list that contains more than one action for a domain, as we will not be able to process them.

Here are some examples:

register example.com
register example.net private
register example.biz auto
transfer example.org abcd12345678 auto
renew example.net

If you want our RespectMyPrivacy.COM service, you can just add "private" to the end of a "register" or "transfer" line for the domain you want it set up for. Similarly, if you want registrations to auto-renew year after year, you can add "auto" the same way.

Bulk transfers preserve your existing name server settings. New registrations will be set to our name servers. All bulk registrations and transfers use the account contact information of the account used to pay for the domain (unless you select "private"). If you want custom contact information or name servers, we can process that as long as you have 10 or more domain names with the same settings.

There are no bulk discounts; we give everybody the best possible price on domain. But, if you have a lot of domains to manage, this feature can make the process significantly easier for you. Please contact us if you have any questions about it.

How do I renew my domain name?

If your domain is registered through us, but is set to require manual renewal, follow these steps to renew it:

  1. First, make sure you have sufficient funds to process the renewal in your account.
  2. Go to the Domains panel.
  3. Click "Manage" in the "Registrar" column for your domain name.
  4. Click the "Renew This Domain" action.
  5. Select the number of years you want to add.
  6. Click the "Renew Domain" button.
  7. Review the summary to make sure it is correct.
  8. Click the "Renew Now" button.
  9. Click "Manage" in the "Registrar" column for your domain name.
  10. Use the "Lock Domain" action to protect you from domain hijacking.

If your domain is registered with us and it is set to auto-renew, it will renew automatically for another year about a week before expiration with no action needed on your part, provided there are sufficient funds in your account. (You'll be warned repeatedly and often if the necessary funds are not available.)

If your domain is not registered through us, you will need to contact your registrar to renew it.

Remember, any renewals add on to the existing registration. So if it is May 2023 and your domain expires in August 2023 and you purchase a one year renewal, your new expiration date will be in August 2024, not May 2024. There is no penalty for renewing early!

Regardless of the renewal method, the maximum length of time on a domain registration is ten years from today. Thus, if your domain expires in five years and a few days( for example, if today is February 16, 2010 and your domain expires on February 21, 2015) you'll only be able to renew it for a maximum of four more years, because it can't be renewed for a partial additional year. Our system won't let you select a number of years for renewal that exceeds the allowed maximum of ten. (This also means that for a domain that expires in more than nine but less than ten years, our system won't let you attempt to renew it at all.)

How long does it take to transfer a domain away from NearlyFreeSpeech.NET?

When you perform a transfer to another registrar, they will send you a confirmation message. If you approve the transfer on their side but take no further action, the transfer will complete by default after about seven days. However, after you approve the transfer with your new registrar, our registrar will also send you a confirmation message that should allow you to approve or decline the transfer. If you approve the transfer there as well, it should complete much more quickly.

In most cases, transferring a domain near to or shortly after its expiration will not result in any problems or disruption in service; each TLD is managed through a central registry and their systems are smart enough to recognize that the domain has been renewed, even if it's through a different registrar. However, not all registrar's systems are capable of processing the transfer of expired domains, so even though it will probably be fine, to avoid the consequences of probably, we always recommend that you manage any transfers well in advance of domain expiration. If you encounter a problem with the transfer of an expired domain, we will probably be unable to help.

What is whois verification?

Whois verification is part of a new program started by ICANN in 2014 called the Whois Accuracy Program Specification. It is poorly implemented, dangerous, does not meet its stated objectives, and like all good pointless self-imposed bureaucratic processes, it's mandatory.

Anytime you change contact information associated with a registered domain, including when you first register it, you must verify the new contact email address. This is done by sending you an email message with a link to click on. The email will be sent to the registrant contact's email address. If you have RespectMyPrivacy for the domain, the message will be automatically relayed to your NearlyFreeSpeech.NET member contact email address.

We do not get to control when this message is sent, its content, or whether or not your spam filter will take it seriously. If you do not click on the link, two reminder emails will be sent over the next two weeks. If you still don't click the link after 15 days, ICANN requires that the domain be suspended until you do. If a domain is suspended, it can take 24-48 hours to start working again.

Even worse, if you don't complete whois verification for one domain and you have other domains that use the same contact information, all those domains will be suspended as well.

If this has happened, or if the verification is currently in progress and you don't have the email, you can request a re-send at any time from the registration info panel in our UI.

Please note: This policy has nothing to do with us. It applies to any domain in any ICANN-controlled gTLD, regardless of what registrar you use. If you have an opinion on this program that you would like to share with ICANN, you should feel free to direct it to the nearest brick wall. ICANN is not currently accepting public comment or feedback on this issue. That's just how they roll.

When should I renew my domain name?

Any time you want.

When you renew a domain, the renewal period begins at the end of the current registration period. In other words, renewing for one year adds one year to the current expiration date, even if the current expiration date is months (or years) away.

Exception: Your domain can never be registered for more than ten years. So if a domain's current expiration date is 9.5 years away, our system will return the error "this domain is already registered for the maximum duration" and not allow a renewal attempt. You'd need to wait until a full additional year could be added before you'd be able to renew it.

Please don't wait until the last possible minute to renew (or transfer) your domain.

What top-level domains do you support for registration?

The complete list of top-level domains (TLDs) in which we can provide domain registration services (including new registrations, renewals, and transfers) can be found on this page.

Currently we offer only generic top-level domains (gTLDs). If you want to register a domain in a specific country's top-level domain (ccTLD), you will need to contact a registrar accredited by that country. (Note: Although some countries have chosen to market them otherwise, all two-letter TLDs are ccTLDs.)

If you already have such a domain and wish to use it with our service, this is generally no problem. Just add your domain to our control panel as an existing domain, create DNS for it, and have your registrar update your name server information accordingly.

See also this entry about adding new TLDs.

Why does domain registration have different Terms of Service than NearlyFreeSpeech.NET hosting?

Our domain registration services are provided under the auspices of a third-party company, Public Domain Registry. They are required by the various top-level domain registries and ICANN to impose various conditions on registration.

Public Domain Registry also resells web hosting and other services using a product they call "OrderBox." We are not resellers of the "OrderBox" services. They have a laundry list of terms and conditions for the use of those services that can be found in "Appendix A" of their Registrar-Registrant agreement, which you must agree to in order to register domain names through us.

Unlike our own Terms and Conditions of Service, theirs are fairly typical for the hosting industry, including a variety of prohibitions against controversial behavior that are highly inconsistent with our own. The contents of their "Appendix A" do not apply to your use of our hosting services.

The enforceability of their agreement is strictly limited to your use of their domain registration service. "Appendix A" applies to your use of their hosting (or other) services. Since you are using our hosting services, not theirs, its prohibitions are irrelevant to you and are superceded by our own Terms and Conditions of Service. Public Domain Registry has no authority or ability to interfere with your NearlyFreeSpeech.NET hosting services. No matter what you do, their sole remedy would be refusal to process your domain registration.*

To look at it another way, since we do not provide those services, you are not allowed to use their "OrderBox Services" at all, so the question of how you may use them is moot. It's unfortunate that they have chosen this "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to their agreement, but they did.

If you register a domain with an offensive or controversial component, you are at a certain level of risk of having your domain cancelled, but not from Public Domain Registry. Each top-level domain registry has different rules for what domain names they will allow, and no matter what registrar you choose, you will always be subject to those rules.

If this is a concern to you, do not register a domain name (anywhere) containing an offensive or controversial component.

*Should a circumstance ever arise where Public Domain Registry refuses to process a registration that is otherwise acceptable to the governing top-level domain registry, we will make sure you receive at least a pro-rated refund for any time remaining on that registration, and we will provide as much assistance as we can to help you secure the registration through another registrar. This has never happened, and we have no reason to suspect it ever will.

Why did my domain transfer fail?

The most common causes of transfer failure are:

If you are transferring from another registrar to us, the other registrar is not required to give us a reason for refusing a transfer, so if the problem is anything other than "the administrative contact did not confirm the transfer," we won't be able to provide you with any information.

How do I get rid of a registered domain I no longer want?

To discard a registered domain you no longer want it must meet these requirements:

Follow these steps to abandon a domain:

  1. Visit the "Domains" section of our site and choose "Manage" under the "Registrar" column for that domain to view its "Registration Details" page.
  2. If the domain is locked, choose "Unlock domain" from the "Actions" box.
  3. Continue back to the "Registration Details" page and choose "Abandon domain," which will now be available in the "Actions" box.
  4. Follow the instructions. If there are any reasons why the domain cannot be abandoned, the next page will list them.

If you do this within two days after registering a new domain, we may be able to delete it and get you a partial refund. (This does not apply after renewals or transfers, which are always nonrefundable.) Otherwise, the domain will no longer belong to you and you will not get a refund. It might be deleted, it might remain unavailable to reregister for the balance of its current registration term, or it might be acquired by someone else without becoming available to register again. Proceed with this process only if you have no intention of using the domain again, anywhere, ever. Do not abandon a domain if you intend to transfer or reregister that domain at another registrar.

If you accidentally abandoned a domain and now want to recover it, or want to acquire a domain abandoned by someone else, we can attempt that through our assistance request system, but there is a (potentially steep) fee and the results are not guaranteed.

I renewed my expired domain. Why is it still parked?

When domains expire, the registrar shifts the domain's name servers to special "parked" nameservers. As soon as the domain is renewed, the name servers are switched back. However, the global registries serve 2-day time-to-live (TTL) values when delivering name server glue records.

This means that most people who haven't already seen the "parked" domain will be able to see the site after it's renewed. However, anyone who tried to access the domain while it was expired (including, most likely, you -- its registrant) may continue to see the "parked" page until the two-day time-to-live period expires. It is possible to see the exact remaining time with the Unix command line utility dig, if it is present on your local system.

Although this doesn't tend to affect most site visitors, those who are affected have no recourse unless they have direct control over their local name servers. This is standard to the global registries that operate each TLD and thus works exactly the same for all registrars. It is not something we or our registrar chose or have control over.

In order to prevent this, NearlyFreeSpeech.NET recommends that you either use our auto-renewal feature to make sure your domain never expires or pre-renew your domain so it is never within a year of expiring.

Why does my domain registrar show as "external?"

External domains are those domains which are registered through some other company that are not eligible be transferred in to our service. This typically includes domains in top-level domains that we do not support for registration, such as all ccTLDs.

What are the steps of a domain registration?

When you register a new, available domain with us you'll do the following steps:

  1. Visit the Domains panel and select "Register a New Domain" from the "Actions" box.

  2. On the next page, tell us more about the domain you want to register:

    • Enter your desired domain name in the "Name To Register" field; for example if you wanted to register example.com, you'd enter just "example" (without quotes).
    • Choose the top-level domain (TLD), such as .com or .net from the provided menu. All of the TLDs we support are listed in that menu.
    • Select the number of years for which you'd like to register the domain, up to a maximum of 10.
    • Once you've verified that your information is correct, use the "Add Domain" button to proceed to the next page.

  3. Next, choose whether to use your own contact information or our RespectMyPrivacy service:
    • If you want to use RespectMyPrivacy, just select it using the button next to "I want RespectMyPrivacy.COM Proxy Contacts." You won't be asked to enter any contact information during the registration process.

    • If you want to use your own contact information, choose "I will enter my own contact information." If you've never entered contact information before, the next page will present you with an explanation and the "Add a New Contact" button and you'll be taken to a form that is prepopulated with your account information, which you can edit if necessary. (This won't affect the contact information as it is listed on your account with us.) Once that step is done, or if you already have other registered domains with us, you'll be presented with a list of contact types and corresponding menus that contain any previous sets of contacts you've submitted, and the option to edit the selected registrant contact's information or create a new contact instead if you like.
  4. After you've chosen your contact type and done any needed additions or editing, continue to the page that lets you choose how you want to set up your DNS:

    • Choosing "set up DNS and name servers automatically" will tell our system to enable our DNS service for this domain and add relevant name servers to the registration;
    • Choosing "I want to specify my own name servers" will take you to a form that allows you to enter them.
  5. Once you've completed the setup of your DNS, the final page of the process shows you the information you've entered and gives you an opportunity to complete the registration. If you see something that's amiss, you can start over, but be sure to use the "Start Over" button; you might get unexpected results if you use your browser's back button.

  6. When all of this is done correctly, you'll receive a page confirming that you've successfully registered the domain.

What does the error "the contact information you entered was not accepted by the registry" mean?

When the registry interface we use returns an error, the error messages are usually neither human nor machine readable, so we sometimes have to mask them with this message.

Here are some of the most common reasons this can happen:

If you've followed all these restrictions and you still can't figure out what the problem is, we do have a way to look up the error and decode it by hand. You can ask for a lookup via our forum or (if you have a subscription membership) support issue.

I deposited funds for my domain registration renewal but it hasn't been renewed. What's wrong?

This means that at some point, you set your domain registration to be renewed manually; to renew it, see this FAQ entry.

Our system won't automatically use the funds you deposit to renew any domain registration not set to "Auto Renew." To view (or change) this setting for a domain registered through us:

  1. Go to the Domains tab of our member interface.
  2. Select the "Manage" button next to the relevant domain name to go to the Registration Details panel for that domain. (If the button next to the domain name says "Transfer" instead of "Manage," then it isn't registered through us.)
  3. In the "Registration Details" box, on the "Renewal Type" line, you can see the domain's renewal type ("Manual Renew," "Auto Renew," or "Do Not Renew").
  4. Use the Edit button on that same line to change the renewal type if you wish.

If a domain isn't registered through us, you will have to contact your registrar to renew it, or transfer it to us, which generally includes a one-year renewal.

How do I transfer a domain registration away from NearlyFreeSpeech?

You'll have to get most of the specifics about this from the registrar you're transferring the domain to, as their system will coordinate most of the transfer and they will have the best information about how their system works.

However, here's some general information about the process that may help.

First, you should do some "preflight checks:"

Once you've confirmed the domain is ready to transfer, the steps of the transfer will be more or less as follows:

  1. If your domain is locked (which it ordinarily should be), go to the Registration Info Panel and select "Unlock Domain" in the Actions box.
  2. Retrieve the transfer code. (The registrar you are transferring to may call this the EPP code or the auth info code. All three terms refer to the same thing.)
  3. Place the transfer order with your new registrar.
  4. Your new registrar will send the domain's administrative contact an approval message. This message will contain a link that must be clicked, or similar steps to confirm that it was received and that the administrative contact wants the domain transferred.
  5. Our registrar will send the administrative contact a message with a link you can use to cancel the transfer if you want. Don't click the link. (Unless you want to cancel the transfer.) Most of the time this email will also have an approval link you can use to expedite the transfer.
  6. If you don't have (or don't use) an approval link, wait about seven days. If your domain was less than seven days from expiring when you started the transfer, don't worry. It's not ideal to wait until the last minute, but it usually does not cause any disruption.

Once the transfer completes, the registration and RespectMyPrivacy (if applicable) will drop off, but if it has DNS, email forwarding, or is used for aliases, those will continue to exist. If you aren't using them anymore, you can remove those manually once you're sure doing so won't cause any interruptions.

Why doesn't the domain name I just renewed show up in the renewal monitor?

Domains cannot be re-renewed immediately after they have been renewed; to prevent accidental double-renewal orders from getting placed they are locked out for a period of time. During that time, they won't show up in the renewal monitor.

Recently-renewed domains should reappear on the renewal monitor within a few hours. Until they do, you can still view and edit them as normal on the Domains panel and their individual "Registration Details" pages.

I don't want to keep my domain. How do I stop receiving emails that it's going to expire?

Just visit the Domains panel, and, under the "Registrar" column in the domains list, select the "Manage" button for the relevant domain to view its "Registration Details" page. In the "Actions" box on that page, you'll find an "Edit Renewal Type" option. Set this to "Do Not Renew" and our system will stop telling you about your expiring/expired domain.

Why do I get "Invalid URL" when I click the email link to approve or cancel a domain transfer or verify a domain contact?

The unique link you receive via email when you approve or cancel a domain transfer or verify a domain contact is only valid once. If it's already been accessed for any reason, you will receive the (incredibly unhelpful) error message "Invalid URL." This message/page is not generated by us and we have no control over its content.

If you encounter "Invalid URL" by surprise, usually this means one of two things has happened. Either your email client has "helpfully" prefetched the URL, or, most frequently, you double-clicked the link in the email causing it to load twice. In both cases, the action you're verifying is already done.

If you're transferring a domain to us and you get this from the approval link, this means the transfer is approved and you can confirm this by going to the domain's info panel in our member interface (select "Manage" in the "Registrar" column for the domain on the Domains panel) and confirming the Action status is "Transfer waiting for Losing Registrar Approval." Likewise, if you get it from the cancel link, the domain transfer is already pending cancel and should be killed and refunded within a few hours.

If you are transferring a domain away from us, this means the transfer will be blocked.

If you're approving a contact, this means the contact is approved and that status should reflect in our UI within an hour.

If you receive this message and whatever you're doing doesn't show up as successful (i.e. the Action status is still "waiting for admin contact approval" or the domain still shows as unverified after an hour) then it's also possible your email client may be breaking up or mangling the URL. Check to make sure it hasn't split the URL onto multiple lines, possibly adding a character at the end of the first line.

When is RespectMyPrivacy enabled during domain registration?

If you decide to use RespectMyPrivacy when you register a domain, it can be enabled during the second step of the process. It becomes active at the time the registration is completed, which keeps your information from ever being exposed in the WHOIS database when you register your domain.

If you want to add it to domain that is already registered, see this entry.

Does NearlyFreeSpeech allow managing DNSSEC (DS) records?

Yes, although currently the process is manual and carries a nominal fee unless you have a subscription membership. DS records can be loaded to or removed from the registry through our assistance request system.