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WHOIS(1) General Commands Manual WHOIS(1)

whoisInternet domain name and network number directory service

whois [-AadgIilmPQRrS] [-c country-code | -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:

Use the Asia/Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) database. It contains network numbers used in East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands.
Use the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) database. It contains network numbers used in those parts of the world covered neither by AfriNIC, APNIC, LACNIC, nor by RIPE.

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

This is the equivalent of using the -h option with an argument of "".
Use the US Department of Defense database. It contains points of contact for subdomains of .MIL.
Use the US non-military federal government database, which contains points of contact for subdomains of .GOV.
Use the specified host instead of the default NIC ( 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. For newer generic domains (gTLDs), a lookup for whois.nic.tld is attempted. For other TLDs, or if this lookup fails, "" is appended to the TLD. This effectively allows a suitable whois server to be selected automatically for a large number of TLDs.

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, 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

Use the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority ( root zone database. It contains information about top-level domains.
Use the traditional Network Information Center (InterNIC) ( database. This now contains only registrations for domain names under .COM, .NET, .ORG and .EDU. You can optionally specify the type of object to search for:
whois -i 'type name'
where type is one of , , . The name may also contain * wildcards.
Use the Latin American and Caribbean IP address Regional Registry (LACNIC) database. It contains network numbers used in much of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Use the Route Arbiter Database (RADB) database. It contains route policy specifications for a large number of operators' networks.
Use the PeeringDB database of AS numbers. It contains details about presence at internet peering points for many network operators.
Connect to the whois server on port. If this option is not specified, whois defaults to the “whois” port listed in /etc/services (port 43).
Do a quick lookup. This means that whois will not attempt to lookup the name in the authoritative whois server (if one is listed) nor will it contact InterNic if a lookup fails. This flag has no effect when combined with any other flag.
Use the Russia Network Information Center (RIPN) database. It contains network numbers and domain contact information for subdomains of .RU. This option is deprecated; use the -c option with an argument of "RU" instead.
Use the Reseaux IP Europeens (RIPE) database. It contains network numbers and domain contact information for Europe.
By default whois adjusts simple queries (without spaces) to produce more useful output from certain whois servers, and it suppresses some uninformative output. With the -S option, whois sends the query and prints the output verbatim.

The default action, unless directed otherwise with a special name, is to do a very broad search, looking for matches to name in all types of records and most fields (name, nicknames, hostname, net address, etc.) in the database. For more information as to what name operands have special meaning, and how to guide the search, use the special name “help”.

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 identifier.

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 “” on port “rwhois” (written numerically as 4321).

whois -h -p rwhois query-data

K. Harrenstien, M. Stahl, and E. Feinler, NICNAME/WHOIS, RFC 954, October 1985.

L. Daigle, WHOIS Protocol Specification, RFC 3912, September 2004.

The whois command appeared in 4.1cBSD.

March 24, 2024 OpenBSD-current