What is WHOIS?

For all SSL Certificates, confirmation of control of the domain is a requirement before the SSL Certificate can be issued. The most common method used to confirm domain control is done by completing the automated Approver E-Mail. This address can be selected from the options available in the drop-down menu provided during the ordering process.

The automated Approver E-Mail can only be sent to one of the 5 generic e-mail address aliases for the domain name, or an email address listed in the domain registration details and made publicly available. These details are provided publicly in the WHOIS listing.

The generic email address aliases for the domain are one of the 5 default prefixes below

admin@example.com
administrator@example.com
hostmaster@example.com
postmaster@example.com
webmaster@example.com

The domain registration details show who owns the domain. These details are entered at the time the domain is registered and can be updated at any time through your domain registrar, including a contact email address. This email address can be used as an option for receiving the automated Approver E-Mail.

Checking the Domain’s Details

In order to check the domain registration details, a WHOIS search is done for the domain. This is a database query to the domain registrar to find out “who is” the owner of the domain. The query will return information such as the name of the domain registrar, domain owner, address, company and of course a contact e-mail address.

If your preferred e-mail address is not listed in the domain registration details, or are not publicly available, you will need to update them by logging in or contact your domain registrar so that they can update the details for you and make the details accessible for public view.

There are some registrars that require you to perform the WHOIS search directly through their website in order to gain all the relevant details. This includes hosting companies like GoDaddy, which will provide a link in the WHOIS results that can be used to check the registration details on GoDaddy’s own site.

In addition to checking the registrar, you can also use one of the below specific databases to perform the WHOIS search.

ICANN

https://whois.icann.org/en

Most generic domains such as .com can be checked for registration details using ICANNs WHOIS function above

.it domains

https://web-whois.nic.it/

.fr domains

https://www.afnic.fr/en/products-and-services/services/whois/

.pl domains

https://www.dns.pl/en/whois

.de domains

https://www.denic.de/webwhois/?lang=en

.ch domains

https://www.nic.ch/whois/?domain

.eu domains

https://eurid.eu/en/whois/

.at domains

https://www.nic.at/en/my-at-domain/domain-search/whois

.es domains

https://www.dominios.es/dominios/en/busca-tu-dominio

Why the Domain Details Are Sometimes Not Available?

In some cases, the information is not made publicly available and so the information provided by a WHOIS search or by a domain registrar is not sufficient for the purposes of obtaining contact details that have been registered for a domain. Some of the reasons why this can occur have been outlined below.

Privacy Setting: All domain registrars have a privacy setting that can be enabled. This is used to hide the contact details you have entered in your domain’s registration details if you are not comfortable having these details publicly available. In some cases, an email address mask will display in place of the contact email address, which is normally a string of alpha-numeric characters followed by a privacy domain (for example 123456abcdef@whoisprivate.com). This email address can be used as an option for receiving the automated Approver E-Mail however you would first need to contact your domain registrar to confirm if emails sent to this address are received and if so, how to access them. Alternatively, you can disable the privacy setting so that the correct contact email address is displayed. Once the verification process has been completed, the privacy setting can of course be re enabled.

GDPR Redacted: Since the implementation of the new GDPR laws across Europe and globally, companies needed to rethink their approach to the handling and retention of customer information. As a result, some of the domain registrars permanently disabled public access to registered domain details, marking them as “GDPR REDACTED” or “REDACTED FOR PRIVACY”. This means that although you may have contact details listed for the domain which you can see from your account, it will not be found when conducting a WHOIS search and hence unfortunately cannot be used as an option for receiving the automated Approver E-Mail. The only option is to use one of the 5 generic email address aliases for the domain.

Country Specific Restrictions: There are some countries that have their own regulations which prevent the domain registration details from being viewed using WHOIS searches. Examples of the restrictions we know of are outlined below.

.uk domains

The UK government does not allow domain registration details to be made publicly available. Just like with GDPR Redacted domain details, this means that although you may have contact details listed for the domain which you can see from your account, it will not be found when conducting a WHOIS search and hence unfortunately cannot be used as an option for receiving the automated Approver E-Mail. The only option is to use one of the 5 generic email address aliases for the domain.

.au domains

https://whois.auda.org.au/

The Australian government has a similar restriction regarding domain registration details. They are not able to be accessed by WHOIS searches and instead require manual searches from the above link. As long as the preferred email address can be found here, your order can be manually updated to include this address as an option for receiving the Approver E-Mail.

The automated Approver E-Mail is a security procedure intended to confirm control of the domain and is used across the entire industry. While it is the most commonly used method to achieve confirmation of domain control, there are also alternate methods available which can also be used and can be found explained here.

Updated on September 23, 2019

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles