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Let's say I own the domain name example.tld. It is registered at registrar R. In my account at R, I registered the following name servers for the .TLD registry:

  • ns1.example.tld --> 123.456.789.001
  • ns2.example.tld --> 123.456.789.002

Let's say there are no domains using these name servers for DNS yet. How can verify outside of my R account, that the name servers have been registered successfully at the .TLD registry?

For example, VeriSign Inc's WHOIS page allows you to look up a registered .COM name server:

IP Address:
Registrar: ENOM, INC.
Whois Server:
Referral URL:

Is there a standard approach for looking up this information for any TLD registry?

To clarify, I am not looking to verify the name servers a domain is set to use, e.g.:

Registrar: ENOM, INC.
Whois Server:
Referral URL:

Name Server: NS1.P13.DYNECT.NET
Name Server: NS2.P13.DYNECT.NET
Name Server: NS3.P13.DYNECT.NET
Name Server: NS4.P13.DYNECT.NET

Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 05-jan-2013
Creation Date: 22-oct-2002
Expiration Date: 22-oct-2015

Instead, I am looking for a way to query a single registered name server (e.g. ns1.example.tld) against the registry, to find the IP address the registry has recorded for this name server (e.g. 123.456.789.001).


I have contacted VeriSign for input, and it turns out that VeriSign's WHOIS lookup for name servers is proprietary. Here is their response:

In regard to your question whether you would be able to obtain any information regarding a nameserver which is registered at the registry but not currently associated with any domain, you will unfortunately not be able to obtain this information via alternative routes e.g. by performing a DiG. Nameservers are only published to the zone if they are attached to a domain, hence you won't be able to obtain this information unless said nameserver is associated with a domain. Also, a DiG may provide you with a listing of nameservers associated with a domain and their respective IP's, etc.

-- Benjamin, VeriSign, Inc. Customer Service

The second part of @Iian's answer below is correct. The name server must be associated with a domain in order to lookup the IP address the registry has on record for that name server.

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migrated from Jan 17 '13 at 6:29

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

1. WHOIS doesn't technically relate to your name servers or DNS resolution for your domain. WHOIS information can be and often is incorrect. DNS servers don't query WHOIS to find your name servers, they query the gTLD servers that are authoritative for that gTLD. WHOIS is an information directory. 2. It's not a TLD, it's a gTLD. 3. If you want to know what name servers the gTLD servers "have on record" for a particular domain you can query one or more (or all) of the gTLD servers directly to find the name servers for any domain that the particular gTLD server(s) is authoritative for. – joeqwerty Jan 18 '13 at 3:55
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can us dig and choose a public DNS server

dig NS

This will get you the names of the name servers then you can just look them up e.g.

dig +short ns1.example.tld 

or if you're using windows you can use nslookup

> server
> set type=ns

Then similar to above

nslookup ns1.example.tld

will provide you with the ip address

If you want to query the tld directly then

dig ns tld

will provide a list of the TLDs name servers, you can then query them directly for the ns records for example.tld

dig @ns666.tld ns example.tld
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Can you explain why I would be querying a third-party DNS server to lookup information at the registry level? – iglvzx Jan 17 '13 at 6:57
@iglvzx: It demonstrates that the registry has the information and is publishing it correctly ? – Iain Jan 17 '13 at 7:06
This returns the list of name servers a domain is set to use at the registry. I am looking for a way to query a single registered name server against the registry, to find the IP address the registry has on file. (See my update) – iglvzx Jan 17 '13 at 18:06
@iglvzx: Once you know the name of the nameservers you just query the DNS for their IP address or am I missing something ? – Iain Jan 17 '13 at 19:57
I am asking about the IP address that is "registered" at the registry through your registrar. The .COM registry provides a WHOIS lookup that returns this IP address when given just the name server. Even if the name server is not being used by any domains, this information is on file somewhere at the registry. I have emailed VeriSign for their input. If I get a response, I'll update my question. :) – iglvzx Jan 18 '13 at 1:18

Normally you can use Whois to query nameservers:

$ whois -h "nameserver"

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to
for detailed information.

   IP Address:
   Registrar: NAME.COM LLC
   Whois Server:
   Referral URL:

>>> Last update of whois database: Fri, 18 Jan 2013 08:57:23 UTC <<<

The implementation of this feature is up to the TLD. .GOV, for example, does not return nameserver queries:

$ whois -h "nameserver" 
% DOTGOV WHOIS Server ready
No match for nameserver "A.GOV-SERVERS.NET".

>>> Last update of whois database: 2013-01-18T08:59:27Z <<<

There is not really a reliable way (i.e. a method available on all TLDs) to check if a host has been registered at a registry via public DNS or Whois services. You can't query glue records directly, and you only see them if you query a domain using the nameservers you're looking for. Since you're interested in nameservers not associated with any domain, this is not an option.

The whois approach is your best bet, but cannot be relied upon. A registry might have a nameserver registered but not bother putting it in Whois if there are no associated domains. The only 100% reliable ways to verify a nameserver's existence in the registry are to query the registry via an EPP CHECK command. Since those are only available to registrars, it doesn't help you much.

Let's say there are no domains using these name servers for DNS yet. How can verify outside of my R account, that the name servers have been registered successfully at the .TLD registry?

Of course, if you have no domains associated with a nameserver, does it really matter? The only guaranteed way you can check is to register a domain in the TLD using your nameserver, query the domain, and check the glue you get back from `dig @tldnameservers yourdomain ns.

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I'm pretty sure this is the only correct answer to this question. Thanks. – David Houde May 18 '14 at 10:11

Use nslookup or dig to query a gTLD server for your name servers. You could also use the following web site to trace the DNS delegation for your domain:

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