Lessons from Freelance: Domain Transfer Locks

Transferring a domain to a different registrar is almost always kind of a pain. I usually recommend clients purchase their domains from a different company than their hosting so that transferring is rarely necessary at all.


Most people are going to switch hosting companies at some point, and leaving your host behind is a lot easier when they don’t also hold your domain.


Website hosting feels like a stagnated industry, full of gimmicky offerings and confusing interfaces, and out of date help documents.

I’ve worked with a few different hosting companies, they all feel painfully similar in their shortcomings. One such shortcoming I recently came up against is how difficult some make it to transfer a domain out of their service. So I’m listing a few of the issues I came across recently in hopes it helps someone else.

1) Domain Transfer Locks

To transfer a domain you need to do a few steps, some of which may not be well detailed by your host’s help documentation. My first tip that cost me a couple days was the Domain Transfer Lock buried in my domain management settings. If you have not turned off this lock (which may not be labeled or obvious to find but is probably there somewhere) you may get an error that says you have an “invalid EPP code” even when you know you input the correct code.

2) You can’t transfer a domain if you recently purchased or renewed it

Something I constantly have to remind clients is that you can not transfer your domain if it has been purchased within 60 days or it is within 2 weeks of renewal.

3) You may not actually need to transfer your domain

If you are changing hosting because you found a better deal but not necessarily because you want to cut ties with your current hosting company. In most cases, you could cancel your hosting plan but keep your domains registered there. In which case you’ll just need to update your domain DNS to point to your new hosting and keep the login information for the old account handy in case you need to manage domain settings in the future.