I'm looking to register a domain for the first time, and I'm trying to weigh the costs. I'm just wondering if you transfer to a different registrar after some time, do you pay both the old and the new registrars? Do publish transfer rates refer to moving out, moving in, or both?
Transferring a domain away from a registrar is free of charge; as long as the domain is unlocked and you provide the correct EPP code to the incoming registrar the transfer can commence.
The incoming registrar will charge you a transfer fee for the incoming domain transfer but will also extend the registration period of the domain by an additional year.
For example: If I purchase
example.com from GoDaddy on January 1st 2000 for 1 year the domain will have an expiry date of January 1st 2001. However, If I transfer this domain from GoDaddy to Name.com on May 6th 2000 Name.com charges you a transfer fee for the incoming domain transfer but after the domain has successfully been transferred it's new expiry date would be January 1st 2002. It just adds an additional year.
Some registrars do charge the full fee without refunding what's already been paid with the old one. At least Hetzner explicitly states that this is possible:
If you are transferring a domain to us, we may charge you for the domain again depending on your order. This may happen even if you have already paid for the domain for a year at your old provider/registrar.