How to take back control of your website

Who is the legal owner of your website and domain name? A common misconception by many business owners is thinking that they own their business website and domain name.

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<b>Joss Barnes</b>

Joss Barnes

Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer

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Do you know who owns your website and domain name?

Imagine waking up to find your website is offline. Worse still, your relationship with the website designer or host provider is nonexistent. Perhaps the person who manages your website has gone out of business, or not willing to provide any login details.

You’ve just realised that you have no control over your website or domain. How do you go about regaining control?

A common misconception by many business owners with managed websites is thinking that they have ownership of their business website and domain name and not actually checking.

I’ve met several businesses over the lockdown period who have fallen victim to what technically is a legal form of blackmail and dishonesty over ownership rights of websites and domains.

1. Call your website designer or the person who set up your website.

Open up communication channels with the person who first set you up and keep it amicable. Most are honest and decent enough to hand you over the website and domain ownership credentials, however, this is not always the case.
There are some unscrupulous and unprofessional people out there who will have charged you for the website and domain name but then registered it in their name.

When the registered domain is in someone else’s name, they are technically the current owners of that domain, and there’s little you can do. Domain names can be registered for a period from 1 to 10 years.
Ensure your details are on the registry; otherwise you will have no solid legal grounds to ownership unless the domain name contains words which are legally protected (i.e. trademarked).

Can I be charged?

Suppose the website designer offered to relinquish the domain registered in their name for a nominal fee. In that case, it may be worth paying up, especially if you are generating revenue through the site and can not afford to lose the domain. At Twisted Spire, we protect our clients and provide peace of mind by ensuring that all domains and registries are in the client’s name.

Your website, in my opinion, should be released to you in full. Read your terms and conditions which you entered into with your designer at the start. Some household website companies which offer you super cheap websites claim ownership on the website design, so when you have finally had enough of being upsold to at extortionate rates and decide to move your site elsewhere, you find that you cant. But what did you expect with going for the cheap option?

If no agreement can be made, you might be better to cut your losses and start fresh. Read the small print this time around.

2. Check your bank invoices.

Dig out your invoices and see who you have been paying the annual registry to. If you have been paying the hosting company directly, then you may just be in luck.

Hosting company’s are the owners of the server whos space your website sits within. Many web designers use third-party servers for numerous beneficial reasons. If you have been paying them directly, then you may have some leverage to talk with them directly and regain control of your website and domain.

3. Find out who your domain registrar is.

The last and final call you can make before either starting from fresh or proceeding down the legal action route is to find out who the registrar is and give them a call. 


The domain registrar is the registration body that the domain is registered through. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, it is the same as the hosting company above.


To confirm who your domain registrar is, go to Who is, enter your domain name. It will pull up loads of information about your site, from dates of the registry, expiry and who the domain registrar is. 


Again, if you are not registered as an account holder, there is little else you can do other than be careful next time and use an award winning, customer centric company like Twisted Spire. 

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