Using a .US domain name for your website is a good way to show you live in the United States Of America ??. Before choosing to use the .US extension you should read this post. There are a few unintended consequences that could creep up if you are not prepared. This blog post seeks to inform you of them.
WHOIS Privacy Is Banned
Your domain name registrar is not allowed to offer you an anonymous registration / a contact proxy service for .US domain names. This means that the phone number and physical address you put into the WHOIS database is open for anyone to pull.
If you use fake information you risk losing your domain name for a violation of registry policies. If you use real information it could be used to send you junk mail or worse used by internet stalkers. The registry’s policy page states they can require a birth certificate, passport, and/or proof of address to confirm your identity and United States citizenship.
I personally believe that the WHOIS System is bad for individuals. It was created at a time where only big businesses and universities had their own website. In 2020 it’s time to reconsider whether a certain system should exist at all.
To get around this issue for the time being I put a Mail Forwarding Address and a Google Voice Phone Number. It is technically still valid contact information but it likely runs afoul of the registry’s policies. I am not a lawyer but if the .US registry flags you for proof of address you’ll have no choice but to either update it or risk having your domain name seized. Both of these things harm individuals who want to use a .US Domain name and to their keep personal information private. If you value privacy do not use a .US domain name.
This matters less for businesses and more for individuals.
I’d would rather not have my home address and personal cell phone number published online while a business wants to be found. If you are a business you probably don’t need to switch away from your .US domain name and can ignore this article.
The Mail Forwarding Address and Google Voice Phone Number solution works for now and stops most of the spam from affecting me. I imagine at some point I will be flagged for address verification so I updated all the links to use the .ME extension and redirects the old urls. There’s no reason to risk it when I have the means to avoid it.
Okay I want to switch but I already have a .US Domain
Switching domain names is a bit tricky depending on how old the domain name is but it’s possible. I recommend the following actions:
- You’ll need to register a new domain name with a different extension.
- Consider your website to use the new domain name (edit all internal links, WordPress can do this for you)
- You will need to setup 301 redirects on your old domain name to the new domain name.
- You’ll need to visit the Google Search Console and Bing Search Console, add both domain names to them, and configure a change of URL. This lets the search consoles know you’re moving and to update the indexes.
- Update all social media profile links.
- Where possible edit forum posts and comments to use the new url
- Beyond that you’ll need to accept you lost $12 or so and disable auto renew so you don’t lose anymore ?