WHOIS Domain Lookup

Peek behind the domain curtain.

What is WHOIS?

It’s a public directory that contains domain ownership information and key dates (like when a domain registration is set to expire).

What will I learn?

You might discover who owns a domain. But since most owners keep their data hidden, you’ll likely find the name and contact details of their registrar.

Concerned about privacy?

Us too. That’s why we include WHOIS privacy with every domain registration-listing our data in the WHOIS records instead of yours.

What is the WHOIS database?

WHOIS (“who is” in caps) is a publicly-accessible online directory that dates back to the early days of the internet.

When an individual buys a domain, their personal information—including name, phone number, email address, and physical address—gets added to the WHOIS database. This allows the general public, law enforcement, business owners, domain brokers, and administrators to identify “who is” behind any given domain.

Or at least, that’s how it used to work. Major privacy concerns arose when spammers started harvesting email addresses and phone numbers from the database. As a result, most domain owners now opt for domain privacy—substituting their registrar’s contact details for their own. A good registrar service should include WHOIS domain privacy at no extra cost (ours comes standard).

Are the search results still useful with personal details redacted?

Yes—a WHOIS query can still provide valuable information about a domain name, starting with whether or not it has been registered (if not, it may be available!). You’ll also learn:

  • which registrar is responsible for the domain;
  • when the registration period will expire;
  • when the domain’s records were last modified (a recent change usually hints that a domain is being actively used), and;
  • how to get a message to the owner.

If the domain you’re after is taken, reach out to us. We can help you find a unique alternative that fits the bill.

How is WHOIS different from a domain name search?

You type a domain name in a search bar, hit enter, and learn something you didn’t know before. But is a WHOIS query the same as using a domain name search tool? Not exactly.

A reliable domain name search tool is still your best bet for finding out if the domain you want is available—providing the most accurate, up-to-date information on a domain’s status. If your original choice is taken, a good search tool can also suggest variations—or help you come up with a different name entirely.

In contrast, a WHOIS search will help you learn more about a registered domain, including the domain’s history, the registrar’s name and contact details, and key dates. But be aware that the WHOIS system may not always have the latest information, as each registrar updates their records separately—and delays are common.

That’s why we advise using a trusted availability tool to get the clearest picture of a domain’s status.

What can you do with WHOIS?

Find key details

Curious about that killer domain? A WHOIS search can provide key facts—including the name and contact details of the registrar (or owner), as well as purchase and expiry dates.

Get in touch

While you might not find the domain owner’s phone number, WHOIS can provide you with other ways to reach out, such as the registrar’s contact info, a proxy email address, or a built-in contact form.

Check expiry dates

Use WHOIS to track the expiration dates of domains you’re interested in. Failure to renew by the due date—or during the 30-day grace period—could signal that the owner is ready to sell.

Monitor your brand

To safeguard your brand and domain, search for similar registered domains in the WHOIS database. If you suspect a domain was purchased in bad faith, take necessary action.

The WHOIS system at a glance

Whether you’re new to domains or a seasoned expert, WHOIS can help you gather crucial data. But as you register a domain, it can also pave the way for an influx of spam. Protect yourself—and check out these essential facts and best practices.

  • The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) oversees WHOIS, and requires every domain owner to provide accurate contact details to their registrar: their name, phone number, email address, and physical address.

  • The WHOIS system was created in 1982—and there are valid questions about whether it has adequately adapted to the challenges of fraud, identity theft, and spam.

  • Most domain owners now choose private registration—which replaces their personal contact information with their registrar’s. Your registrar should provide domain privacy without charging you additional fees.

  • Though it’s often referred to as “a database,” WHOIS is actually a network of independent databases, each maintained by a different registrar. This decentralized structure can cause delays and inaccuracies—so a domain name search is a better option for checking availability.

  • Understand that the majority of WHOIS records no longer contain domain owners’ personal contact details. However, even with a privately registered domain, you can reach out via the proxy email address or a provided contact form.

  • Remember that the WHOIS database is still an important resource for trademark investigations and legitimate domain inquires. To be sure any time-sensitive messages reach you quickly, keep your contact information up-to-date with your registrar.

Domainregistry.com – safely securing your domain since 1996

Identity Protection

Protect your personal information with a private WHOIS directory listing. We keep your information out of view, shielding you and your data from bad actors.

Secure Messaging

With a private email address, you’re in control of who contacts you. Filter out unwanted messages and spam, while ensuring important mail reaches you quickly.

Your Privacy, Our Pledge

We are committed to preserving your privacy. We will never share your contact details with a third party, unless we’re legally required to do so.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have unanswered questions about how to use the WHOIS database (or protect your privacy)? Check out our FAQ—or reach out to our team anytime.