How can I tell if a domain is already registered?
Domains can be registered even if there's no website or other evidence of their existence. There are a few ways to determine this:
1. Enter the domain name into a browser and see if a website or parking page loads. (Note that not all registrars use parking pages. iwantmyname does not.)
2. Search for the domain on iwantmyname.com. Unavailable domains show a grey sad face icon. Available domains have a green smiley face.
3. Do a WHOIS search. Registered domains will return WHOIS info. (Note that some registries return very little information for WHOIS records, so read it carefully.)
If someone isn't using the domain I want, can I have it?
No. Well, not without the owner agreeing to sell and transfer it to you.
If a domain is registered to someone else, they have paid for it and own it. Having an active website is not required to own a domain. As long as the person pays to maintain ownership, no one else can have the domain, even if the owner doesn't appear to be using it, unless that person agrees to transfer or sell the domain, or lets it expire. (Or, in some cases, if their ownership or usage of the domain violates someone else's trademark.)
Asking a registrar to take a domain for you won't work, either. We have no more legal right to remove it from the owner than you do, and this applies globally, not just in a specific country. (Only one person can own a domain. It can't be registered to someone else at the same time just because they live in a different country from the owner.)
Think of it in reverse: if someone else decided they wanted your domain, would you be okay with us just taking it from you and giving it to them, regardless of what you were doing with it?
Someone has registered a domain I have trademarked. What can I do?
You will need to follow the instructions outlined in ICANN's Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP). Consulting a lawyer may also be useful in ensuring your case is as strong as possible.
Note, however, that even though you own the trademark, the domain might be registered (and the owner residing) in a different country or continent from you, which can make things more difficult, since trademarks aren't registered globally.
Also, a domain squatter will still likely fight to keep the domain, since it was purchased in the first place to make money. Getting the domain name may be expensive, but if you own the trademark (or are a celebrity), you have a good chance of getting the domain from the squatter. Really, it comes down to whether it's worth the trouble to you.
Can I buy the domain I want from the owner?
Possibly. You can contact the person or company that registered the domain and see if they're interested in selling it.
Be aware that the person who owns the domain is under no obligation to sell it, may want a lot more money for it than you're willing or able to pay, and may not be very interested in negotiating the price. Best to start off asking casually and generally if the owner would be interested in selling, don't share too much about who you are and why you want the domain, and be very polite.
As an interested buyer, really your only leverage is how much you're willing or able to spend, and your ability to walk away if you can't come to agreeable terms. It's always a good idea to have other options available to you. And fortunately, thanks to all the new gTLDs, there are many more options available.
How do I find out who owns the domain I want?
To find out who owns a domain, if there's an active website, you can see if there's a contact page or email address listed. Or you can try a WHOIS lookup. Typically the contact information of the person who owns the domain will appear on the search results page. If the owner is using a privacy service, however, their name and contact details will not be displayed.
Even if the owner is using a privacy service, there should still be an email address you can use to contact them, or at least a domain holding company. If a domain is held by a company wanting to make money on selling domains, they're probably going to make it easy to get a hold of them. Note that sometimes spam filters will catch emails sent to the WHOIS privacy email address for the owner.
How do I find out if the domain I want becomes available?
If you're not comfortable contacting the domain owner directly, or you tried and didn't get a response, you can attempt to procure the domain if it expires.
This is anything but a guaranteed strategy, however. Most registrars remind their customers early and often prior to domains expiring. Most registrars also auto-renew domains by default as long as the customer's payment details are accurate and up to date. (iwantmyname does both of these things for their customers.)
Even if a domain's ownership does expire, for many domains there is a grace period after expiration so they can still be renewed (albeit at an increased cost).
You can use a domain monitoring service, which alerts you to status changes and expirations for your own domains, or others that are of interest to you. Be aware that this offering can be an upsell attempt by some registrars. (iwantmyname does not offer this service.)
You can also use a backordering service. For maximum chance of getting the domain if it expires, we recommend using several. You will only be charged by the service that manages to procure the domain for you (if one is successful). Some backordering services charge in advance. Paying them is not recommended, since you would need to try and get a refund if they don't register the domain for you.
Some backordering services:
Can you make an offer for a domain name for me?
This service is called brokerage, and, iwantmyname does not offer any domain brokerage services. We recommend contacting Sedo or DomainAgents to assist.
What brokers will do is contact the domain owner (if they can), make an offer for the domain for you, handle negotiations, and finalize the agreement to securely purchase and transfer the domain. You will pay the broker a fee in addition to whatever price you pay for the domain name itself.
If you have additional questions, just let us know.