WHOIS(1) User Commands WHOIS(1)


whois - Internet domain name and network number directory service


whois [-aAbfgiIklmQr] [-c country-code | Fl h host] [-p port] name...


The whois utility looks up records in the databases maintained by several
Network Information Centers (NICs).

The options are as follows:

-a Use the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) database.
It contains network numbers used in those parts of the world
covered neither by APNIC, AfriNIC, LACNIC, nor by RIPE.

(Hint: All point of contact handles in the ARIN whois database end
with -ARIN.)

-A Use the Asia/Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) database.
It contains network numbers used in East Asia, Australia, New
Zealand, and the Pacific islands.

-b Use the Network Abuse Clearinghouse database. It contains
addresses to which network abuse should be reported, indexed by
domain name.

-c country-code
This is the equivalent of using the -h option with an argument of

-f Use the African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC) database. It
contains network numbers used in Africa and the islands of the
western Indian Ocean.

-g Use the US non-military federal government database, which
contains points of contact for subdomains of .GOV.

-h host
Use the specified host instead of the default variant. Either a
host name or an IP address may be specified.

By default whois constructs the name of a whois server to use from
the top-level domain (TLD) of the supplied (single) argument, and
appending .whois-servers.net . This effectively allows a suitable
whois server to be selected automatically for a large number of

In the event that an IP address is specified, the whois server
will default to the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN).
If a query to ARIN references APNIC, AfriNIC, LACNIC, or RIPE,
that server will be queried also, provided that the -Q option is
not specified.

If the query is not a domain name or IP address, whois will fall
back to whois.crsnic.net.

-i Use the Network Solutions Registry for Internet Numbers
(whois.networksolutions.com) database. It contains network
numbers and domain contact information for most of .COM,.NET,.ORG
and .EDU domains.

NOTE ! The registration of these domains is now done by a number
of independent and competing registrars and this database holds no
information on the domains registered by organizations other than
Network Solutions, Inc. Also, note that the InterNIC database
(whois.internic.net) is no longer handled by Network Solutions,
Inc. For details, see http://www.internic.net/.

(Hint: Contact information, identified by the term handle, can be
looked up by prefixing "handle" to the NIC handle in the query.)

-I Use the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) database. It
contains network information for top-level domains.

-k Use the National Internet Development Agency of Korea's (KRNIC)
database. It contains network numbers and domain contact
information for Korea.

-l Use the Latin American and Caribbean IP address Regional Registry
(Tn LACNIC) database. It contains network numbers used in much of
Latin America and the Caribbean.

-m Use the Route Arbiter Database (RADB) database. It contains route
policy specifications for a large number of operators' networks.

-p port
Connect to the whois server on port. If this option is not
specified, whois defaults to port 43.

-Q Do a quick lookup. This means that whois will not attempt to
lookup the name in the authoritative whois server (if one is
listed). This option has no effect when combined with any other

-r Use the R'eseaux IP Europ'eens (RIPE) database. It contains
network numbers and domain contact information for Europe.

The operands specified to whois are treated independently and may
be used as queries on different whois servers.


The whois utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


Most types of data, such as domain names and IP addresses, can be used as
arguments to whois without any options, and whois will choose the correct
whois server to query. Some exceptions, where whois will not be able to
handle data correctly, are detailed below.

To obtain contact information about an administrator located in the
Russian TLD domain RU, use the -c option as shown in the following
example, where CONTACT-ID is substituted with the actual contact

whois -c RU CONTACT-ID

(Note: This example is specific to the TLD RU, but other TLDs can be
queried by using a similar syntax.)

The following example demonstrates how to query a whois server using a
non-standard port, where ``query-data'' is the query to be sent to
``whois.example.com'' on port ``rwhois'' (written numerically as 4321).

whois -h whois.example.com -p rwhois query-data


Vic White and Ken Harrenstien, NICNAME/WHOIS, 1 March 1982, RFC 812.


The whois command appeared in 4.3BSD.

October 2, 2009 WHOIS(1)