Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Registry Agreements

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Unsponsored TLD Agreement: Appendix O (.info)

ICANN | Unsponsored TLD Agreement: Appendix O (.info)
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Unsponsored TLD Agreement: Appendix O (.info)

(11 May 2001)

Whois Specification—Public Whois


The Whois service substantially consists of three parts:

  • Port 43 Whois services
  • Web-based Whois services
  • Extended Whois (xWhois) services

These are described in more detail below.

Whois (Port 43)

There is currently no centralized, real-time Whois system in the .com, .net and .org TLDs. Rather, individual Whois databases are maintained by individual registrars. Persons searching for information regarding a particular domain name registration are thus forced to query each registrar database to find the information they are seeking.

Although VeriSign Global Registry Services (VGRS) operates a registry-level Whois database, it is not updated in real-time. Accordingly, a person searching for Whois information must confirm information obtained at the registry-level Whois with the registrar-level Whois. Whois output format is currently not standardized among the registrars, and individual registrars have their own practices with respect to the frequency of updates and the amount of information disclosed through the Whois service. As a result, information in the registry-operated Whois may be inconsistent with that contained in the registrar-operated Whois. This inconsistency can cause problems both for third parties trying to obtain information on a domain name or registrant, and domain name owners seeking to verify that changes to their own information have been made.

Afilias will eliminate the aforementioned problems through the maintenance of a registry-level Whois database that will contain information for every registered .info domain. The Whois service will contain data transferred by registrars during the registration process. If a registrant changes any registration information relating to the registrant's domain name, the registrar will communicate these changes to the registry at the time they are received. This will provide interested parties with access to up-to-date information for every .info domain, under a standard protocol with a consistent format.

The Registry Whois system has been designed for extreme robustness, availability and performance. Additionally, provisions for detection of abusive usage (e.g. excessive numbers of queries from one source) have been taken into account. Since the Afilias Whois server is the authoritative source of domain information, the policy is to not place any restrictions on Whois queries. However, Afilias reserves the right to activate abuse countermeasures if necessary.

The Whois services specified in this document will perform in accordance with [RFC954]. Updates to the Whois database is normally performed within five (5) minutes of the EPP command that effected the change.

Access to the physical systems and data is strictly controlled and managed by Afilias.

Afilias reserves the right to develop and deploy these services internally, or outsource management of these facilities to a third party contractor under terms that are commercially reasonable and consistent with the aforementioned functional standards.

XML for Whois

Afilias has considered the use of XML for the output of its public Whois service, as described in [XML-WHOIS]. However, this Internet Draft has not yet resulted in a preliminary standard. Without a standardized schema, XML interchangeability could be affected if Afilias were to adopt a proprietary schema. As a result, Afilias has chosen to wait for the standardization efforts to complete before implementing XML support for Whois.

A new [IETF-WHOIS] mailing list was recently established to discuss extensions to the whois protocol, particularly for the domain name and IP address registration process. This new activity may lead to the development of an IETF working group that will help standardize an exchange format for Whois data.

Afilias is committed to participating in and supporting the IETF efforts to develop a standard exchange format for Whois data. Afilias intends to support such a standard if commercially practicable.

Whois Queries

For all Whois queries, the client provides a character string for which information is desired and optionally, the object type and interpretation control parameters to limit the search. If the object type and interpretation control parameters are not specified, Whois searches for the character string in the Name fields of the Domain object. Object type controls are available to limit the search to just data in the specified object. Interpretation controls are available to limit the search to just the ID field of an object, or to specify partial keyword matching or to provide full or summary output.

Queries can be made as either an "exact search" or as a "partial search", both of which are insensitive to the case of the input string.

An exact search specifies the full string to search for in the database field. An exact match between the input string and the field value is required. For example: "tucows.com" will only match with "tucows.com".

A partial search specifies the start of the string to search for in the database field. Every record with a search field that starts with the input string will be considered a match. For example: "tucows.com" will match with "tucows.com" as well as "tucows.com, Inc."

By default, if multiple matches are found for a query, then a summary of all the matching results is presented. A second query is required to retrieve the specific details of one of the matching records.

If only a single match is found, then full details will be provided. Full detail consists of the data in the matching object as well as the data in any associated objects. For example, a query that results in a domain object will include the data from the associated name server and contact objects. Additional information and samples of the various types of Whois result records are available in the Whois Output Fields and Sample Whois Output sections below.

Query Controls

Whois query controls fall into two categories: those that specify the type of field and those that modify the interpretation of the input or determine the type of output to provide.

Object Type Control

The following keywords restrict a search to a specific object type:

DOmain: Search only domain objects. The input string is searched in the Name field.
HOst: Search only name server objects. The input string is searched in the Name field and the IP Address field.
Contact: Search only contact objects. The input string is searched in the ID field.
Registrar: Search only registrar objects. The input string is searched in the Name field.

By default, if no object type control is specified, then the Name field of the Domain object is searched.

Interpretation Control

The following keywords modify the interpretation of the input or determine the level of output to provide:

ID: Search on ID field of an object. This applied to Contact IDs and Registrar IDs.
Full or '=': Always show detailed results, even for multiple matches
Summary or SUM: Always show summary results, even for single matches
'%': Used as a suffix on the input, will produce all records that start with that input string
'_': Used as a suffix on the input, will produce all records that start with that input string and have one and only one additional character

By default, if no interpretation control keywords are used, the output will include full details if a single record is found and a summary if multiple matches are found.

Whois Output Fields

This section describes the output fields provided for each type of object.

Domain Record

A whois query that results in domain information will return the following fields from the Domain object and the associated data from Host and Contact objects. This set of data is also referred to as the Domain Record.

Domain Name
Sponsoring Registrar
Domain Status
Registrant, Administrative, Technical and Billing Contact Information including
     Contact ID
     Contact Name
     Contact Organization
     Contact Address, City, State/Province, Country
     Contact Postal Code
     Contact Phone, Fax, E-mail
Trademark Information including
     Trademark Name
     Registration Date
     Country of Registration
     Registration Number
Name Servers associated with this domain
Domain Registration Date
Domain Expiration Date
Domain Last Updated Date

Name Server Record

A whois query that results in name server information will return the following. This set of information is referred to as the Name Server Record or Host Record.

Name Server Host Name
Name Server IP Addresses if applicable
Sponsoring Registrar
Name Server Creation Date
Name Server Last Updated Date

Contact Record

A whois query that results in contact information will return the following. This set of information is referred to as the Contact Record.

Contact ID
Sponsoring registrar
Contact Name
Contact Organization
Contact Address, City, State/Province, Country
Contact Postal Code
Contact Phone, Fax, E-mail
Contact Registration Date
Contact Last Updated Date

Registrar Record

A whois query that results in registrar information will return the following. This set of information is referred to as the Registrar Record.

Registrar ID (conforming to the IANA registrar-ids registry)
Registrar Name
Registrar Status
Registrar Address, City, State/Province, Country
Registrar Postal Code
Registrar Phone, Fax, E-mail
Registrar Administrative Contacts
Registrar Technical Contacts
Registrar Billing Contacts
Registrar URL (registration services)
Registrar Creation Date
Registrar Last Updated Date

Sample Whois Output

This section provides sample output from the Whois server for each type of Registry object: Domain, Name Server, Contact and Registrar. The output is structured as key/value pairs, which simplifies machine-readability.

Domain Record

Input: whois "domain = afilias.info"
Output: Domain Name: AFILIAS.INFO
Sponsoring Registrar: INTERQ, INC.
Domain Status: ACTIVE
Registrant ID: C100-LRMS
Registrant Name: Chow, Peter
Registrant Organization: interQ Inc.
Registrant Address1: Shibuya Infoss Tower
Registrant Address2: 10F 20-1 Sakuragaoka-cho Shibuya-ku
Registrant City: Tokyo, Japan
Registrant State/Province:
Registrant Country: JP
Registrant Postal Code: 150-0031
Registrant Phone Number: +813.54562555
Registrant Fax Number: +813.54562556
Registrant Email: peter@interq.or.jp
Admin ID: C101-LRMS
Admin Name: Chow, Peter
Admin Organization: interQ Inc.
Admin Address1: Shibuya Infoss Tower
Admin Address2: 10F 20-1 Sakuragaoka-cho Shibuya-ku
Admin City: Tokyo, Japan
Admin State/Province:
Admin Country: JP
Admin Postal Code: 150-0031
Admin Phone Number: +813.54562555
Admin Fax Number: +813.54562556
Admin Email: peter@interq.or.jp
Tech ID: C102-LRMS
Tech Name: Chow, Peter
Tech Organization: interQ Inc.
Tech Address1: Shibuya Infoss Tower
Tech Address2: 10F 20-1 Sakuragaoka-cho Shibuya-ku
Tech City: Tokyo, Japan
Tech State/Province:
Tech Country: JP
Tech Postal Code: 150-0031
Tech Phone Number: +813.54562555
Tech Fax Number: +813.54562556
Tech Email: peter@interq.or.jp
Billing ID: C103-LRMS
Billing Name: Chow, Peter
Billing Organization: interQ Inc.
Billing Address1: Shibuya Infoss Tower
Billing Address2: 10F 20-1 Sakuragaoka-cho Shibuya-ku
Billing City: Tokyo, Japan
Billing State/Province:
Billing Country: JP
Billing Postal Code: 150-0031
Billing Phone Number: +813.54562555
Billing Fax Number: +813.54562556
Billing Email: peter@interq.or.jp
Trademark Name: Afilias
Trademark Date: 01-jan-2000
Trademark Country: US
Trademark Number: 12345678
Name Server: dns.interq.or.jp
Name Server: dns1.interq.or.jp
Name Server: dns2.interq.or.jp
Created On: 26-jun-2001
Expires On: 26-jun-2003
Updated On: 28-jun-2001

Host Record

Input: whois "host = dns1.afilias.info"
Output: Host Name: DNS1.AFILIAS.INFO
IP Address:
Sponsoring Registrar: INTERQ, INC.
Created On: 26-jun-2001
Updated On: 28-jun-2001

Contact Record

Input: whois "contact = C101-LRMS"
Output: Contact ID: C101-LRMS
Registrar: INTERQ, INC.
Name: Chow, Peter
Organization: interQ Inc.
Address1: Shibuya Infoss Tower
Address2: 10F 20-1 Sakuragaoka-cho Shibuya-ku
City: Tokyo, Japan
Country: JP
Postal Code: 150-0031
Phone Number: +813.54562555
Fax Number: +813.54562556
Email: peter@interq.or.jp
Created On: 26-jun-2001
Updated On: 28-jun-2001

Registrar Record

Input: whois "registrar = interQ, Inc."
Output: Registrar ID: REG-49
Registrar Name: INTERQ, INC.
Registrar Status: ACTIVE
Registrar URL: www.discount-domain.com
Address1: Shibuya Infoss Tower
Address2: 10F 20-1 Sakuragaoka-cho Shibuya-ku
City: Tokyo, Japan
Country: JP
Postal Code: 150-0031
Phone Number: +813.54562555
Email: registrar@interq.ad.jp
Admin ID: C104-LRMS
Admin Name: Richard A. S. Lindsay
Admin Phone Number: +813.54562687
Admin Email: richard@interq.ad.jp
Admin ID: C105-LRMS
Admin Name: Shino . Tashiro
Admin Phone Number: +813.54562555
Admin Email: shino-tashiro@interq.ad.jp
Billing ID: C106-LRMS
Billing Name: Yoshihiro . Himeji
Billing Phone Number: +813.54562555
Billing Email: himeji@interq.ad.jp
Tech ID: C107-LRMS
Tech Name: Kevin . Ying
Tech Phone Number: +813.54562687
Tech Email: kevin@interq.ad.jp
Tech ID: C108-LRMS
Tech Name: Peter . Chow
Tech Phone Number: +813.54562687
Tech Email: peter@interq.ad.jp
Created On: 26-jun-2001
Updated On: 28-jun-2001

Web-based Whois

From its web site at www.afilias.com, Afilias will provide an input form from which a visitor can perform Whois queries. The input form will accept the string to query, along with the necessary input elements to select the object type and interpretation controls. This input form will send its data to a server, whose function is to perform a port 43 Whois query as described above. The results from the Whois query are returned by the server and displayed in the visitor's web browser.

The only purpose of this web interface is to provide a user-friendly interface for Whois queries. It does not provide any additional features beyond what is described in the Whois (Port 43) section of this appendix.

Extensible Whois (xWhois)

Afilias will use its best commercial efforts to develop and implement an extensible whois (xWhois) service within six months of achieving operational stability for the Registry Services for .info. This subscription-based service is intended to provide:

  • An interface to the Whois database that will permit interested third parties to conduct enhanced Whois searches using Boolean and character string technologies.
  • Enhanced search functions will include the ability to identify
    • Registered domain names that incorporate a certain character string, or
    • All domain names registered by a certain registrant.
  • Support for a new lookup key, "list_registrars" which will generate a list of all accredited registrars pursuant to a query

For subscribers to the xWhois service, a web-based user interface will be available to define the desired output fields and search criteria. A batch process generates the report and notifies the subscriber that it is available for download. xWhois queries will search all records from a copy of the Registry database that will be updated once a day.


[IETF-WHOIS] http://www.imc.org/ietf-whois/
[RFC954] K. Harrenstien et al.: "NICNAME/WHOIS", RFC-954, October 1985.
[XML-WHOIS] R. Wesson: "Whois Export and Exchange Format", http://www.icann.org/committees/whois/draft-wesson-whois-export-03.txt, Work in Progress.

Earlier drafts:

26 April 2001
19 April 2001

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Page Updated 24-Dec-2002

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