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Over the last few days I've been working on the migration of a website to a new host. The domain is registered with the hosting provider, so the new provider will be the new registrar for the domain name.

Just today, I've initiated the transfer of the domain name to the new registrar. I've also changed the nameservers with the old registrar to point to the new servers as an extra safety net. It's been left somewhat last minute, as the old provider closes down in two days' time.

But I've just read that a domain registrar transfer can take up to 5-7 days to complete. So what will happen if this process isn't complete by the time the old registrar closes?

It's a .org domain, if that makes any difference.

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  • You should have first changed the nameservers, wait for a while, like one week, then only do the registrar transfer. The problem is not the delay, even if the registrar waits for the transfer completion, if he was given you DNS service also he can cut it down then and due to caches and such your domain will become unavailable, even if you change nameservers right after. A change of registrar is different from a change of DNS provider. Nov 28, 2021 at 22:21
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    Can you explicit what "close down" means exactly? I think answers consider it means "shutting down for administrative reasons or something" but I suspect you mean something else like just service being stopped for your domain, and specifically DNS provider service (which is different from registrar one, and being clear on that would help clearly understand your problem). Nov 28, 2021 at 23:57
  • The entire business is ceasing operations. Domain registration, DNS management and hosting were all through the same company under a single client account. wiserhosting.com
    – Stewart
    Nov 29, 2021 at 15:54
  • @PatrickMevzek Should have indeed, but the reality is that (a) the treasurer of the organisation wanted to hold off for as long as possible (b) while I'm sure he would have been fine with doing it 1-2 weeks in advance, the reality is that I've had a lot on my plate so didn't get round to it for a while (c) it needed to be done at a time that would minimise disruption to the people who use the website.
    – Stewart
    Nov 29, 2021 at 16:00
  • I guess the morale of the story then is that the treasurer should not dictate technical decisions... As for "it needed to be done at a time that would minimise disruption to the people who use the website." there can be 0 disruption if you just do this (too late now but for next time): set up the new nameservers with the exact copy of the zone as it is currently, TEST THEM (this is called an undelegated test), and once satisfied, change the nameservers at registry (through registrar). Doing that way means 0 visible changes for users (client DNS queries) and hence 0 downtime. No need to wait. Nov 29, 2021 at 16:09

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Unless you are dealing with large webhosts, it's likely that they are not registrars but resellers. Resellers can go bust or disappear. Then you will have to work out a solution with the upstream registrar. Not necessarily easy but possible. In fact I would suggest to keep your domain names with accredited registrars because they are less likely to vanish overnight, and precisely because they are regulated by Icann. Registrars can fail and have failed, in fact forced terminations by Icann happen from time to time. See here for example: Notices of Breach, Suspension, Termination and Non-Renewal.

In such a situation a bulk transfer of the domain portfolio would take place, coordinated by Icann.

And by the way, it would be a good idea to use a third-party DNS service. Especially when planning a transfer to another registrar, because using a service that does not depend on either registrar minimizes the chance of downtime, and can provide increased resilience.

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You should be fine.

The registrar is not the ultimate authority - that is, I believe ICANN. As long as the closing-down registrar does not take active meadures to cancel the domain it will still go through.

You have not advised the registrar but its also unlikely a registrar would just close down (a reseller of a registrar would, but you could go to the registrar direct). There are significant costs and "credibility factors" involved in being a registrar - meaning they would most likely have a lot if clients, and would sell the business - or at minimum work with another registrar to transfer the business). Even if this were not the case ICANN would transfer the domains to another registrar so their obligations can be met.

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  • icann.org/en/announcements/details/… is worth a read - it also has a link to the ICANN deregistration procedures, and all of this is "from the horses mouth"
    – davidgo
    Nov 28, 2021 at 22:14
  • Does this mean that, as long as I've set the nameservers to the new hosting provider, the domain name should continue to work and I shouldn't have any downtime?
    – Stewart
    Nov 28, 2021 at 22:18
  • No. It means your domain name won't get lost if you have initiated a domain transfer. A domain name (which is what you asked about) is not the same as DNS, although the two are related. If you want to ensure things dont break you need to set up dns with your new provider and change the nameserver settings at the old provider to use the new providers nameservers.
    – davidgo
    Nov 28, 2021 at 22:29
  • Which I've done.
    – Stewart
    Nov 28, 2021 at 22:33
  • @Stewart - I disagree with DavidGo's comment. If you have changed the nameservers and the DNS at your new host is set up correctly, it should continue to work with no downtime - one condition, propagation of DNS information is complete before the old host goes offline.
    – Steve
    Nov 28, 2021 at 22:34

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