How do I transfer a domain into Namecheap with minimized downtime

If you are using a third party DNS (like your hosting company DNS or private DNS), the domain transfer will not cause any issues (as the DNS server settings will not change during transfer).

If you're using your registrar's default DNS service please take a moment to read through this article to learn how to minimize the downtime during transfer.
NB: downtime cannot be fully avoided, for some people around the world including you the site may be down for some time.

Let's say you want to transfer a domain called example.com to Namecheap from another registrar (ex: OldRegistrar) and you are currently using DNS provided by the OldRegistrar. Under normal circumstances, when a domain is transferred out, the name servers associated with the domain will stay the same (e.g., ns1.OldRegistrar.com and ns2.OldRegistrar.com). However, as the domain is no longer with the Old Registrar, the Old Registrar’s name servers will stop responding to any queries for your domain. This causes a downtime until you switch your domain to our DNS. However, this downtime can be reduced in 5 easy steps.

How to reduce this downtime?

Before transferring your domain to Namecheap, you need to setup FreeDNS for it. Here's how it works.

1. Go to FreeDNS page and add your domain (example.com) to our FreeDNS service:
  • make sure you are logged into your account
  • mouse over Domains at the top of the page and click on Free DNS
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  • enter your domain and click on Get DNS
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  • click on the cart icon and then hit Set up DNS
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2. Authorize your domain to use our FreeDNS service and enter DNS settings.

More preferable scenario: before pointing your domain to our FreeDNS nameservers you can activate FreeDNS by email:
  • mouse over your username at the top, click on Manage Domains
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  • select Hosted Domains  from the left-side menu
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  • click on your domain
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  • click on 'select authorization email' link
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  • select the email and click Save.
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The system will send a verification email, through which you can activate FreeDNS for your domain.

NB: If you are having issues with email verification, please contact our support and ask to manually verify your domain(s).

Less preferable scenario: point your domain to our FreeDNS nameservers, and FreeDNS service will be automatically activated for your domain shortly (our system makes recurring check and activates domain once it is pointed to FreeDNS). Remember: if you point your domain to our FreeDNS nameservers before activating FreeDNS and copying DNS settings, downtime may take more.

3. Copy all your domain settings (host records, email settings etc) to our control panel:
- mouse over your username at the top, click on Manage Domains, select Hosted Domains from the left-side menu, click on your domain. Here you can add the corresponding DNS records (A, MX, TXT etc), set up Free Email Forwarding and URL-forwarding, use Dynamic DNS service etc.

4. At the other registrar (OldRegistrar), add our FreeDNS nameservers to the current DNS of your domain; that is, use FreeDNS as back up DNS. For information on how to setup custom DNS at your current registrar (ex: OldRegistrar), please check the OldRegistrar's FAQ documentation.

5. Wait around 24 hours until the DNS settings for the domain are propagated, and then remove* your current registrar's DNS leaving FreeDNS nameservers as the only ones for your domain and initiate a transfer of your domain to Namecheap using the normal transfer process.

WARNING:
At this stage, there is a chance that you or your customers will experience some downtime as OldRegistrar might stop responding immediately after you switch to FreeDNS. But those whose queries go to FreeDNS servers will get proper responses and will experience no downtime.

NOTE: Unless explicitly authorized by email and until the name servers are pointed to our FreeDNS servers, our DNS servers will not respond to queries.

*If you keep both set of nameservers, they will not be automatically changed to our default ones, hence DNS records will not be copied, and your site will be down until domain is manually switched to our default DNS, the DNS records are re-entered and the DNS propagation is completed.

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