WHOIS(1) BSD General Commands Manual WHOIS(1)
whois -- Internet domain name and network number directory service
whois [-6AadfgilmQRr] [-c country-code | -h host] [-p port] name [...]
The whois utility looks up records in the databases maintained by several Network Informa-
tion Centers (NICs).
The options are as follows:
-6 Use the IPv6 Resource Center (6bone) database. It contains network names and
addresses for the IPv6 network.
-A Use the Asia/Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC) database. It contains net-
work numbers used in East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands.
-a Use the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) database. It contains network
numbers used in those parts of the world not covered by AfriNIC, APNIC, LACNIC or by
(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
-d Use the US Department of Defense database. It contains points of contact for subdo-
mains of .MIL.
-f Use the African Network Information Center (AfriNIC) database. It contains network
numbers used in Africa.
-g Use the US non-military federal government database, which contains points of con-
tact for subdomains of .GOV.
Use the specified host instead of the default NIC (whois.crsnic.net). 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 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
AfriNIC, 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
-i Use the Network Solutions Registry for Internet Numbers (whois.networksolutions.com)
database. Historically, it contained network numbers and domain contact information
for most of .COM, .NET, .ORG and .EDU domains. However, 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
(Hint: Contact information, identified by the term handle, can be looked up by pre-
fixing "!" or "handle " to the NIC handle in the query.)
-l 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.
-m Use the Route Arbiter Database (RADB) database. It contains route policy specifica-
tions for a large number of operators' networks.
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).
-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) nor will it contact InterNic if a
lookup fails. This flag has no effect when combined with any other flag.
-R Use the Russia Network Information Center (RIPN) database. It contains network num-
bers and domain contact information for subdomains of .RU. This option is depre-
cated; use the -c option with an argument of "RU" instead.
-r Use the R'eseaux IP Europ'eens (RIPE) database. It contains network numbers and
domain contact information for Europe.
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, nick-
names, 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''.
Queries beginning with an exclamation point '!' are assumed to be NSI contact handles.
Unless a host or domain is specified on the command line, (whois.networksolutions.com) will
be used as the whois database.
Similarly, queries beginning with ``COCO-'' are assumed to be CORE contact handles. Unless
a host or domain is specified on the command line, (whois.corenic.net) will be used as the
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 excep-
tions, 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
The following example demonstrates how to obtain information about an IPv6 address or host-
name using the -6 option, which directs the query to 6bone.
whois -6 IPv6-IP-Address
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
Ken Harrenstien and Vic White, NICNAME/WHOIS, 1 March 1982, RFC 812.
The whois command appeared in 4.3BSD.
BSD September 9, 2007 BSD