Of rejected EPP codes and workarounds

fail.on.intertubes I’ve never had to transfer a domain before. However, my dissatisfaction with my current registrar led me to seek out and decide upon a new registrar/webhost. What followed was an unexpected complication involving EPP codes that were “too complex” for my new host.

Simply put, an EPP code is what is used to prevent unauthorized transfers of a domain. To transfer a domain, you first request an EPP code from your current registrar and then submit it to your new registrar along with the domain name. In essence, it’s a password. You can read more about it at Wikipedia.

A modern EPP code looks like this (Note that this is not a real EPP code): 8BrJ*9G+4To-*2z). Nice and entropic, no? Those fancy symbols must lend some strength to the code. I’m warm with security.

When I submitted my EPP code to my new web host, I received the error: “You have entered an invalid EPP code.” Curses! I contacted the new hosting provider for more information. Apparently, special characters are not accepted by their registrar (they use eNom). I contacted my old registrar to see if they could create a less complex EPP code. They responded that they could not because they only dealt with the latest VeriSign EPPs.

I contacted my new host and sent out a cry for help. Fortunately, even though the wording of their KB article placed the blame on their registrar (eNom) the limitation could be worked around. It was merely the web form’s input sanitizing. I imagine there must be some kind of internal warring among teams over this. The host’s own knowledgebase articles are very well stocked with information concerning the limitation with complex EPP codes. In fact, the number 1 return for a simple Google search for rejected EPP codes comes back with a KB article from my new host.

To get the transfer process rolling, I had to swap out the complex characters (such as +, –, *) and replace them with a regular character (In my case, I chose the letter ‘Q’) in the web form. After submitting the form, I then had to update my help desk ticket that was already opened about this situation and give them the real code along with the modified code I supplied to the web form. Within minutes the proper EPP code had been manually put in place and the process for transferring started.

All of this to say: beware that there is a difference in EPP codes and that some registrars may be unable to process certain types. Caveat Emptor!

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