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How to Find Out Who Owns a Domain Name

Image of a woman sitting at a desk browsing the internet to find out who owns a domain

There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to naming your online store. Though the process of choosing a name for your business can be fun and spark your creativity, it can also be daunting and arduous—especially if all your ideas seem to be taken. You might find the business name you want is available but someone else has already claimed the corresponding domain name.​​

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But that doesn’t mean you have to go back to the drawing board. In some cases, you can find out who owns the domain (also referred to as the domain registrant) of your choice and contact them to negotiate a deal for purchase. You can use the WHOIS domain lookup to find out who owns a domain for free.

How to find out who owns a domain

  1. Navigate to the WHOIS database
  2. Search for the domain name URL
  3. Detect if the contact information is private
  4. Find registrant contact information
  5. Contact owner

You can find out who owns a domain by searching the WHOIS database to find key information such as registrant name, address status and phone number. Note some domains employ a privacy shield to hide such information.

Simply enter the URL for the domain name in question here:

 Shopify WHOIS domain lookup

Click the green Search button to find out information about the domain and who owns it. First, WHOIS will show basic information, like the domain name, ID, domain registrar server and URL, and creation date. You can see below that shopify.com was created on March 11, 2003, and is currently registered with MarkMonitor.

Shopify WHOIS data

You can also click View more information to expand the window and see more data about the domain name.

Shopify WHOIS information

Shopify WHOIS info

Now, you might notice that this information doesn’t exactly take you directly to the domain owner. In fact, the domain name service acts as a go-between, essentially protecting the domain owner’s identity. That means you’ll need to do some extra research and sleuthing to find out who really owns the domain.

If the domain owner’s identity is hidden, look up information about the company that owns the domain. You might find a Contact Us or About Us page that talks about the company’s leadership, founders, owners, etc.

You can also find out where the company is registered and seek out databases that list information about registered companies. Look for the secretary of state or department of revenue websites for the corresponding location. For a Florida-registered business, for example, you can look up business ownership by company name, employer identification number, address, or even registered agent name.

Florida business lookup

What to do when you find out who owns a domain

Once you know who owns the domain, you likely want to find out how to reach them and potentially negotiate a deal to transfer domain ownership.

Contact the domain owner

First things first—you need to reach out to the domain owner. You might find their contact information using the steps listed above, often in the form of a physical mailing address. But if you want to reach out in a different way, there are some steps you can take to find the appropriate contact.

The best place to start is with a Google search. Simply enter the person’s name on Google to see what comes up. You might also search “[name] email address” or “[name] contact information.” If that doesn’t yield any results, check out databases like Hunter.

Hunter

Once you get in touch with the domain owner, be prepared to negotiate a deal for the domain. Have a number in mind and be prepared to hear a counter offer. When preparing your number, consider the domain authority, or how much search equity the existing site has. If it’s clearly out of date and doesn’t show up high in search result pages, you can offer a lower number. But for updated sites with a robust digital presence across multiple channels, you’ll likely have to start higher.

Migrate your site to the new domain

Once you’ve secured ownership of the domain in question, you’ll want to migrate your existing site to that domain name. (You can skip this step altogether if you’re starting a website from scratch.)

If you build your website on a platform like Shopify, you can migrate to or from pretty much any online site builder. There are several options for migrating a site to Shopify, each being a relatively simple process.

import domain to Shopify

Learn more: Get the features you need to grow your business—and the support to switch smoothly with Shopify website migration.

Come up with new ideas for your domain name

If your negotiations don’t bode well and you can’t secure ownership for the domain name, you’ll have to brainstorm some new ideas. Try these tips to help you choose a domain name without having to completely start from scratch:

  • Opt for a different top-level domain (TLD). Many websites use a .com TLD, but you can also see if your domain name is available at a .co, .org, .shop, .biz, or other TLD.
  • Add a word to your domain name. Words like “shop” and “buy” make excellent additions to your domain name. If shoes.com isn’t available, for example, you could do shopshoes.com or buyshoes.com.
  • Get help from a domain name generator. Get ideas from Shopify’s free domain name generator. Plug in your ideas and keywords and you’ll get popular and alternative domain names to use for your business. ​​

Find your perfect domain name

Search for domain name ideas and instantly check domain availability.

Learn more

Set up your domain with Shopify

When you register your domain with Shopify, you get automatic access to Shopify’s full suite of business tools to help you manage everything from your domain to inventory management and shipping and fulfillment.


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