My domain is registered through a company that has gone bankrupt. The domain status (according to the whois database) is:

Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited

What can one do in such a situation to recover control over the domain? The whois clearly (and correctly) shows the name of the owner - but you can't just transfer a locked domain to another registrar without some participation from the other organization. Or can you?

  • 4
    A business declaring bankruptcy does not always mean that it is ceasing operations. Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 23:42
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    @MichaelHampton I was in the process of adding that prior to your comment.
    – dan
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 23:48
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    That's why people register with Godaddy. Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 9:07
  • 2
    That's why people register with Namecheap.
    – Keavon
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 23:27
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    @georgechalhoub Don't even get me started on why people don't register with GoDaddy. There are many better registrars out there with pricing on par with GoDaddy, who are just as reliable from a business perspective (and more reliable from a technical perspective).
    – Doktor J
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 23:30

4 Answers 4


What can one do in such a situation to recover control over the domain?

Domain registration statuses akin to "Client Transfer Prohibited" displayed in a WHOIS record simply mean the domain is locked to protect against unauthorized changes at the registrar level.

The first step is for the registrant to unlock the domain with the current registrar, who's domain control panel should still be accessible. Next, they should initiate a transfer to another ICANN-Accredited Registrar. This will require authorization sent automatically to the email address contained in the registrant's contact information, so make sure that's up-to-date.

but you can't just transfer a locked domain to another registrar without some participation from the other organization

If the registrar fails to unlock the domain or initiate the transfer within a reasonable amount of time you can submit a Transfer Complaint as covered here by ICANN: About Locked Domain

Each accredited registrar, and reseller there-under, is bound by a Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). Under that agreement, registrars must permit inter-registrar transfers to other registrars within a specific time-frame, with the exception of certain limited circumstances.

Domain registrants also have certain rights under the RAA. If a registrar either refuses or ignores your request to transfer your domain, or otherwise violates your Registrant Rights, you can also file a Contractual Compliance Complaint with ICANN.

Businesses can declare bankruptcy but still continue to operate. Often this is done to restructure debt, and in some cases, they may do this prior to being purchased by another company. So the registrar may be in the process of being acquired by another company, under which the registrar may continue to function.

When a registrar completely goes out of business however, ICANN will make provisions with the registry for the domain extension(s) that it oversees to be transferred to another ICANN-Accredited Registrar. This usually occurs automatically and transparently, so registrants will not have to transfer their domain(s) unless they chose to.

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    What happens if the registrar provides privacy services (i.e. the whois information is not your actual information)? Is there any recourse via ICANN, or would they not consider you the registrant?
    – Bob
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 4:45
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    @Bob Registrars providing Privacy Service or Proxy Service must maintain a database that's accessible to other registrars during transfers, and respond to ICANN requests for verification, as per this and the subsequent section of the RAA. So no, you would still be considered the registrant during either a registrar transfer or registrar transition overseen by ICANN.
    – dan
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 6:49
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    This is a fantastically useful answer - especially with all the links you provided. Thank you so much.
    – Floris
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 14:25
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    @Floris No problem. I try to link to additional information whenever possible so users can find more info.
    – dan
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 1:06

I’m currently helping out a friend of mine to regain access to her domain name, as the registrar has been unresponsive to emails and voicemails.

In this situation, if ICANN also finds that the registrar is unresponsive, they will in bulk transfer all the domains under that registrar to another one and provide access to all those who own the domains. Apparently, when one registers a domain, the registrar, per compliance rules of ICANN, needs to send the original registration data to a third party, with the actual name and contact information of the owner of the domain. So, that even if that domain owners information is protected, the third party has that data.

If you find yourself in a situation where your registrar has gone out of business and is unreachable or unresponsive, you can contact ICANN Global Support at (323) 405-3073, or their main number in the US at +1 (202) 570-7240 (in Washington D.C.), or find their contact at https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/customer-support-2015-06-22-en

  • You may also want to look at the "Registrar Suspension Questions" section of icann.org/resources/pages/faqs-84-2012-02-25-en which is a FAQ for registrants. Do note though that "registrar slow/unresponsive" and "registrar gone bankrupt/being de-accredited by ICANN" are slightly different cases. Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 16:23
  • "In this situation, if ICANN also finds that the registrar is unresponsive, they will in bulk transfer all the domains under that registrar to another one" That bulk transfer happens only for registrars stopping to be accredited by ICANN. You can see at icann.org/en/accredited-registrars the current list of accredited ones. Do note though that 1) a registrar business name may be different from the corporate name listed there and 2) not every company selling domain names is a registrar, it can be a reseller of one, so you need to make sure to find out the registrar of your domains Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 16:25

The domain should be transferred to a new registrar appointed by ICANN. My first step would be to contact ICANN and see what they have to say about it. Perhaps nominating a new registrar for the domains.

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    Let's back-of-the-envelope this. A decent-sized registrar might have 10M domain names registered through them. Let's say customers have on average registered three domains each. (Some customers are going to have many more, whereas many customers have one or maybe two.) That would be 3+ million people contacting ICANN basically all at once. Do you honestly think they have the manpower to handle something like that?
    – user
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 18:44
  • @MichaelKjörling you may be correct, so what would you suggest?
    – Steve
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 6:07
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    Dan's answer (currently accepted, at that) sounds good to me. Certainly much better than millions of people contacting ICANN (an entity with which they have no established relationship) all at once.
    – user
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 8:20

You secluded the TLD, obviously a gTLD - for which other regulation exists than for ccTLD's. Grab a console and type: whois -I XXX # XXX being the gTLD, for example .xxx

This returns the registry the registrar was reselling for. Else go to the IANA root DB

I'm sure they are obligated to take responsibility for the registrants problem. As long you weren't equally seclusive with your registrant and admin whois data, you're able to identify yourself, allowing to kindly request a solution. If that doesn't work then the 2nd step would be ICANN.

  • What is the -I flag supposed to do in the whois command? My man page doesn't even mention it.
    – Luc
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 16:33
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    -I is the shortcut for -h whois.iana.org
    – Leo
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 13:19
  • Or just use the relevant website: iana.org/whois Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 18:41

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