Domain suspended by ICANN? Here’s how to fix it

You wake up one morning and sit down, excited to admire your beautiful new website. Taking a sip of coffee as you open your browser, you type in yourname.com or coolstartup.co. But instead of the homepage you spent months designing and developing (or working with a company like EMN to design and develop), you see this notice:

Registrant_WHOIS_contact_information_verification“You have reached a domain that is pending ICANN verification,” it says. “This domain has been suspended.”

Suspended?! Even if your coffee didn’t end up spit all over your computer screen (here’s hoping), this is still a problem. Your website going down isn’t only frustrating—it could mean you’re losing business. But thankfully, it’s easy to fix. Here’s the lowdown on ICANN verification, how to avoid domain suspension, and how to get your website up and running again.

Before you go any further: have you verified your new or recently modified domain?

No? Okay. This is not a drill. Check your e-mail for a message from your domain registrar—the company with whom you registered that URL, like GoDaddy, Namecheap, or HostGator—about domain verification. The subject line could be “Please verify your domain.” Or “We need some information from you.” Or even “Attention! Your website is about to disappear if you don’t open this e-mail!”

An example of an ICANN domain verification e-mail from your registrar (in this case, NameCheap).
An example of an ICANN domain verification e-mail from your registrar (in this case, Namecheap).

If you’re anything like us, you probably get so many e-mails in a day that it’s easy to let one slip by from your domain registrar, even with a subject line that says IMMEDIATE. But domain verification is one thing you don’t want to let fall through the cracks. First of all, it’s super easy to complete, and second of all, not completing it could mean your site goes down for hours. Bummer.

Why do you need to do this?

As of 2014, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers—yes, there’s actually a governing body for the Internet) has mandated that the companies who register domains verify the ownership of some of those domains. The ownership information goes into a database called “WHOIS,” a public list of who owns all the domain names on the Internet.

If your domain listing in WHOIS is new, incomplete, or recently changed, your registrar is required to send you an e-mail to verify your identity. If you don’t? The registrar is required to suspend or delete your domain name. This process is meant to ensure that domain name owners are staying accountable and transparent by keeping up-to-date, complete records.

How do you know if you need to verify your domain?

Like we said above, this applies to domain names that are new, have incomplete WHOIS information, or whose information has recently changed. An easy way to figure out if this applies to you is to log on to your registrar’s website, check out your list of domains, and see if any of them are listed as “Pending Verification” or give you the option to verify your contact info.

Here’s what the Namecheap domain dashboard looks like.
OKay, so you never verified your e-mail, and now your domain is suspended. what can you do?

Check your inbox (and your spam folder!) for that e-mail from your registrar. If you can’t find it, log in to your account and have your registrar resend the verification e-mail. Or, you can complete the reCAPTCHA box on your ICANN-seized homepage to have the registrar resend the e-mail. Not receiving it? Check to make sure you have the right e-mail address listed with your registrar (that’s kind of the whole point of verification).

Simply click the link in the registrar’s e-mail and voilà, you’re verified. Unfortunately, if your domain is already suspended, it’ll take some time (up to 24 hours) for it to refresh. For now, all you can do is wait—and maybe get yourself another cup of coffee.

More resources

Here’s a quick compendium of step-by-step tutorials from some of the most popular registrars on domain verification:

GoDaddy
Namecheap
HostGator
DreamHost

If your domain registrar isn’t listed above, not to worry—just search their site for a help or support article about “ICANN domain verification,” and you should find some instructions.

This has been a public service announcement from Evolving Media Network. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!