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Domain registration tips from CIRA: WHOIS privacy

Answering some of our frequently asked questions about .CA WHOIS.

CIRA’s product support team knows the ins and outs of domain names. Here are some answers to common domain registration questions – you can also find more information in our support resources section.

Much like when making any type of purchase or creating an account online, when you go to register a domain name, you (the “registrant”) provide some contact information as a part of the process. This contact information is critical for CIRA and your registrar (the company you registered the domain with) to be able to connect with you in regard to the management of your domain name.

The CIRA support team gets a lot of questions about whether or not their contact information will be published in WHOIS. 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 is behind this funny word from the domain name industry.

WHOIS is 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.


Want to search in the WHOIS Directory?

Find out a domain's:
  • Status (meaning if a domain is available or registered)
  • Ownership information
  • Creation, expiry and updated dates and more!
Check out the CIRA WHOIS domain name lookup.
WHOIS Domain Name Lookup

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 a .CA (besides showing off that your website is proudly Canadian) is that if you select an “individual” category when you register (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, either included in the domain price or for an extra 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 for your domain.

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 there is no contact information on their website.

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 Message Delivery 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 to your message.