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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?

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    A business declaring bankruptcy does not always mean that it is ceasing operations. – Michael Hampton Feb 1 '15 at 23:42
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    @MichaelHampton I was in the process of adding that prior to your comment. – dan Feb 1 '15 at 23:48
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    That's why people register with Godaddy. – George Chalhoub Feb 3 '15 at 9:07
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    That's why people register with Namecheap. – Keavon Feb 3 '15 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 Feb 3 '15 at 23:30
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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 Feb 2 '15 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 Feb 2 '15 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 Feb 2 '15 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 Feb 5 '15 at 1:06
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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? – a CVn Feb 2 '15 at 18:44
  • @MichaelKjörling you may be correct, so what would you suggest? – Steve Feb 3 '15 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. – a CVn Feb 3 '15 at 8:20
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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 Aug 17 '16 at 16:33
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    -I is the shortcut for -h whois.iana.org – Leo Aug 22 '16 at 13:19
  • Or just use the relevant website: iana.org/whois – Patrick Mevzek Jun 19 '18 at 18:41

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