Is the registrant of a domain name the owner?

I’ve got a situation where a non-profit making organisation has a domain name.

When I do a whois lookup, it’s registrant is the organisation, and the type is organisation.

Someone else has registered this domain under their own account at the registrar, and are not willing to release the domain to the organisation because they believe it’s theirs. Basically, they don’t get on with people at the organisation.

I’m sure this is right, but I just want to check…

If the organisation is listed as the registrant, then it’s their domain, and could approach the registrar to have it transfered into an account of their own?

oh, and the address on the who is lookup is the address of the person who registered the domain. Does that matter?


I would normally consider the person who registered the domain as the owner. But you raise an interesting point about the organisation’s name being included. I still suspect that the individual registrant has the claim on it, but I’d be interested to know what others say. I guess someone’s name has to be on the registration, and people who fall afoul of an organisation shouldn’t be allowed to walk off with that organisation’s domain.

Hi there
IMHO and by experience, registrant and owner can be different persons. I know some web designer sells a web package containing hosting, domain registration and obviously the design.Often the designer registers the domain by entering his name, it buys the hosting package and resells all this at his client.

“Someone else has registered this domain under their own account at the registrar” - either it is not possible or “it’s registrant is the organisation” is not possible. - when someone register a domain it fills all his own details. How come the name of an organisation appear if some individual is registering the domain?

" and the address on the who is lookup is the address of the person who registered the domain." - this guy has all the ownership right now.

The registrant is the owner.

This is a really interesting scenario. But given the facts the organization would be the legal authority to hold the domain.
You can raise the issue with the registrar (the service through whom you have the domain registered)

If they are not able to solve it then you need to raise a Domain Dispute with ICANN with complete details.

Basically you need proof like the organization got the domain registered via X and made payments to X for buying the domain. If you don’t have any of this any written proof that the organization had asked the domain to be registered.
Further it helps if the Organization Name is a registered trademark / registered NGO which would make things a bit easier.

when someone register a domain it fills all his own details.
Details that can then be edited by the registrar account’s owner to anything he/she wants. If you’re listed in the whois as the owner of a domain, email address and everything, you will ultimately be able to take possession of that domain.

Well if the organization registered the domain and you own the organization or are the head of it, you technically own the domain. Unless the organization has a huge board of directors, you are the sole owner.

We had someone locally who offered a service similar to this - he registered his client’s domains for them in his name. This was fine until he died unexpectedly. The domains were all technically his, and his clients had to pay again to get “their” domains transferred to them.

Color me curious…you don’t have to name the registrar, but were they the ones that charged for the transfer of ownership? Our company offers reseller hosting and a few years back, situations like the OP explained used to happen quite often. Some site designers would buy the domain name for the business owner and list themselves as the registrant. Most would release it when asked, but some would hold on to it if their was a billing disagreement, to be spiteful, etc. I think people are a little more informed about how domain names work these days, but I imagine it still happens.

Actually country level domains are usually covered by regulations unique to the domains authority of that nation. For example, in Australia (which is modelled on the UK) .au domains are regulated By the Australian Domain Name Authority (AUDA).

If this was an Australian domain then the answer would be that what ever ABN or ACN was used owns the domain. (a Business or Company Number has to be furnished to register a Australian business extension such as or

If there is a dispute about ownership (a common occurrence is when the web designer uses their own ABN instead of the clients) then you can get the ABN or ACN changed (lots of paperwork and costs a fortune) or if it is an acrimonious dispute - seek a ruling from AUDA (which costs even more).

Or bring in the lawyers.

GTLD domains are hardly regulated at all compared to this regime. And disputes can get very messy.

Cheers - Tim from Ingenyes

The organisation should get in touch with nominet, who are the ultimate authority on uk domains. I’ve carried out this process for people in the past and found the process to be relatively straightforward, and nominet representatives to be helpful. The registrar will be unlikely to be able to assist - they’ll generally only deal with whoever paid the bills for the domain, or will do what nominet tells them to do. Legitimate UK registered companies and organisations can overrule a personal registration essentially, you’ll have to get an organisation director or management to communicate proof of status to nominet.

The registrant is just the technical name for the owner. So the registrant is the owner.