I built a website for a client, who insisted on managing the domain themselves. I think it was owned by the maker of their previous site.

Anyway they now want me to take control of the domain, but the current owner has seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth! He won't answer his phone or his emails. I don't think it's anything malicious- the domain is still pointing to my site. It's just that he's changed all his contact information.

Who governs domains, and how would I go about contacting them? If it was a uk domain, I would be contacting Nominet. But it's a .net domain.

  • 1
    TLD domains are owned by ICANN, and you should get your client to case it up, seeing as he's obviously had some type of relationship with the current owner. Oct 28, 2015 at 16:30
  • Thanks. Annoyingly my client doesn't have a clue where they went either. Looks like I need to contact ICANN. It doesn't seem to clear where to go on their site though.
    – Urbycoz
    Oct 28, 2015 at 16:44
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    Well, personally, as a website designer I have learnt sometimes you just got to be harsh and make them aware stuff like this isn't your responsibility, unless they are paying you serious money for doing this, which I highly doubt then personally, I'd prefer to use that time to find bigger and better jobs! just my 2 cents. Oct 28, 2015 at 16:52
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    Another option is to ask the registrar. Some do not want to do anything, however, all of them have procedures and process in place for just this. Say cool and friendly and ask for a supervisor and remind them that the contact is not responsive. There is always something they can do.
    – closetnoc
    Oct 28, 2015 at 17:02
  • There may be some answers for you here: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/61346/… While the questions are not exactly the same, there are some tactics that you may find useful.
    – closetnoc
    Oct 28, 2015 at 17:09

2 Answers 2


Unless the person that bough the domain used proper channels and purchased it through the company (and not himself personally) there is nothing you can do. He legally owns it, and even if you do find / contact him he is not legally required to give it to you.

To answer your questions:

"Who governs domains"

In your case unless you are hosting your site on a local server, I would suggest finding out what hosting company you use. If you find the hosting company you can contact them and see if they will give you the credentials to login.

If you have no idea what hosting company you use, try using a whois service such as this for me the name of the hosting company is shown where it says "name servers":

Whois Results

My hosting company is hostpapa, so if I had your problem I would call them and explain the situation.

Hope this helps!


As someone who has had similar trouble, I feel your pain. The only thing I could do was offer alternative domain names based on .co.uk or .com. Unless that domain has significant traffic, I think alternative domains are usually the best option.

Post here if you find the owner, I want to know how this ends.

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