Vistaprint Domain Name Policy – Read This First

Jul 23, 2013 | Domains, Hosting, & Email | 20 comments

True Story – Save Yourself $50!

I recently had a new client purchase my website service and later found out that he had created his previous website with Vistaprint’s website service. When it came time to transfer his domain, he found out that he would need to pay $20 just to transfer the domain from Vistaprint! I did some research and found out that when you get a domain name through Vistaprint, you are not the domain owner – Vistaprint is. If you are already a Vistaprint customer or thinking about purchasing their website service, read below and find out avoid this problem and save yourself some headache and cash.


WARNING! Vistaprint Domain Name Policy Takes Hostages

Vistaprint Domain TransferWhen you purchase a website from Vistaprint, you pay a monthly price for website hosting and access to their website builder. They will include a domain in the service but it’s important to realize that you do not own the domain if they purchase it on your behalf. You are essentially leasing it. Since you are not the domain owner, your name will not be listed in the domain WHOIS information for the domain.

So why is this important?

It’s important because if you decide to cancel your Vistaprint website in the future but want to keep your domain name, you won’t be able to easily transfer it. You’ll have to go through a process of requesting the domain from Vistaprint and paying an “administrative fee” to release the domain. Many people say this is around $20 but I’ve had people tell me Vistaprint was charging them $50+ for a domain transfer.

This may not seem like a lot but in terms of the cost of domain names which are typically $10/year, this is substantial chunk of change. Some people are calling it extortion. I don’t think I would use a word that strong, but it is definitely not standard procedure among similar companies and it is smart to avoid it altogether.

Read Vistaprint’s website terms


Business Cards AND Websites?

Vistaprint websitesVistaprint is known for their printing and a lot of people go there for business cards. I just bought my business cards from them yesterday actually.

But just like many companies who are in the small business space, they offer a website builder as an add-on to take advantage of the thousands of customers they already have who need websites.

Whether or not their website service is good is answered in my full Vistaprint Website Builder review.


Transferring Your Domain Away from Vistaprint

So if you’re already a Vistaprint customer and wish to cancel your Vistaprint website but keep your domain name, you will need to contact Vistaprint customer service and ask them what the fee will be to transfer your domain name away from Vistaprint. After paying the fee, Vistaprint will give you access to change the domain contact information to your own. Once that is done, you can initiate the domain name transfer. I recommend setting up a Godaddy account and starting the transfer here. Just type your domain in the box on that page and then proceed to pay the transfer fee to Godaddy. This is usually under $10 and you’ll get an extra year added on to your domain registration so it’s a good deal. This is separate from the administrative fee that Vistaprint is charging.

Check out this other post for more details and a video walk through of the domain transfer process

After initiating the transfer with Godaddy, an email will be sent to the domain name owner which is now you. You’ll simply need to confirm the transfer with an authorization code in your new Godaddy account and that should complete the transfer.


Before You Start a Vistaprint Website

If you are reading this and considering purchasing a website from Vistaprint, the smart move is to purchase your domain name first from Godaddy and then link it to your Vistaprint website. This is easy to do and will ensure that YOU own the domain name, not Vistaprint. You won’t be held hostage over a domain name and have to pay an administrative fee if you ever want to point your domain away from the Vistaprint service. The domain name is one of the main assets of your website so it is important to own it yourself.


Questions? What Was Your Experience with Vistaprint?

Please comment below if you have any questions about the process. And please share your experience with Vistaprint websites and the domain transfer process if you think it might be helpful to others.


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