CIRA's product support team knows the ins and outs of domain names. We've recently launched a support resources section on our website to assist Registrants with common domain name questions and through a series of blog posts, we would like to share some of the lesser-known domain registration tips.
Much like when making any type of purchase or creating an account online, when you go to register a domain name, you (the “Registrant”) provides some contact information as a part of the process. This contact information is critical for CIRA and your Registrar to be able to connect with you in regards to the management of your domain name.
The CIRA support team gets a lot of questions about whether their contact information will be published in the WHOIS or not. These questions come from responsible digital citizens that are doing their due diligence about their privacy, or maybe you've heard stories of people getting spammed with email shortly after registering a domain name – we'd like to share answer some questions we get here at CIRA on this topic.
What is WHOIS? A brief introduction
Before we get started, let's explain what the meaning behind this funny word is.
WHOIS is a term from the domain name industry that describes the online directory service that allows people to look up information about domain names. CIRA maintains a WHOIS directory which permits queries to the .CA (Canada's country code top-level domain) registry database.
The thing is, while all top-level domains use a tool called “WHOIS”, there might be some key differences between them and what information is made public.
Question 1: Will my contact information be published in the .CA WHOIS?
It depends, but it's easy to determine.
One of the benefits of registering .CA (besides showing off that your website is proudly Canadian) is that if you register as an “individual” (for example, a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident), you automatically benefit from free privacy protection in WHOIS. When someone searches for a domain that was registered as an individual, this is what shows up in our WHOIS results:
Personal information about the holder of this domain name is not available in the search results because the registration is privacy protected.
For those of you who are registering a domain and choosing a non-individual category (that is, you're registering as a business), privacy protection may be offered by your Registrar for a fee.
Read more about Canadian Presence Requirements.
Question 2: CIRA, can you make my WHOIS information private?
We receive a lot of calls from Registrants thinking that CIRA can adjust privacy.
The common reason for people asking this question is that they've accidentally registered a business domain name that ought to be an individual domain name. In this case, you will need to contact your Registrar to change the CPR category.
Question 3: How can I get in touch with someone who has private domain information?
There are a couple of scenarios where you visit a website and want to get in touch with the owner, but they have failed to provide any contact information on the site. You can head to WHOIS, but if they've registered as an individual, of course you won't be able to see any contact information. In this case the WHOIS would direct you to CIRA's Interest Party Contact form which sends a message to the Registrant without CIRA revealing any contact information. It is important to note that, when sending the form out, the Registrant is under no obligation to respond.