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phpWhois - base class to do whois queries with PHP

This package contains a Whois (RFC954) library for PHP. It allows a PHP program to create a Whois object, and obtain the output of a whois query with the Lookup function.

The response is an array containing, at least, an element 'rawdata', containing the raw output from the whois request.

In addition, if the domain belongs to a registrar for which a special handler exists, the special handler will parse the output and make additional elements available in the response. The keys of these additional elements are described in the file HANDLERS.

It fully supports IDNA (internationalized) domains names as defined in RFC3490, RFC3491, RFC3492 and RFC3454.

It also supports ip/AS whois queries which are very useful to trace SPAM. You just only need to pass the doted quad ip address or the AS (Autonomus System) handle instead of the domain name. Limited, non-recursive support for Referral Whois (RFC 1714/2167) is also provided.


phpWhois requires PHP 4.3.0 or better with OpenSSL support to work properly. Without SSL support you will not be able to query domains which do not have a whois server but that have a https based whois. Also, you can run it in lower PHP versions but without timeout control. phpWhois will not work with PHP versions below 4.1.0


Basically, untar the distribution somewhere outside your server's document root and make sure the directory is listed in 'include_path' in your php.ini file, server configuration or in an .htaccess file. If you want to test it using a web browser just copy example.php , example.html and whois.icon.png anywhere on your server's document root and try it.

phpWhois is not a PHP aplication is a class that can be used in applications. There is no need to make the installation folder accesible to anyone but PHP, nevertheless you can install it inside your server's document root if you like, it will work without problems or security risks.

Example usage

See example.php

include 'whois.main.php';

$whois = new Whois();
$query = '';
$result = $whois->Lookup($query,false);
echo '<pre>';
echo '</pre>';

If you provide the domain name to query in UTF-8, then you must use:

$result = $whois->Lookup($query);

If the query string is not in UTF-8 then it must be in ISO-8859-1 or IDNA support will not work.

What you can query

You can use phpWhois to query domain names, ip addresses and other information like AS, i.e, both of the following examples work:

$whois = new Whois();
$result = $whois->Lookup('');

$whois = new Whois();
$result = $whois->Lookup('');

$whois = new Whois();
$result = $whois->Lookup('AS220');

Using special whois servers

Some registrars can give special access to registered whois gateways in order to have more fine control against abusing the whois services. The currently known whois services that offer special acccess are:

  • ripe

    The new ripe whois server software support some special parameters that allow to pass the real client ip address. This feature is only available to registered gateways. If you are registered you can use this service when querying ripe ip addresses that way:

    $whois = new Whois();
    $whois->UseServer('uk', '{version},{ip} {query}');
    $result = $whois->Lookup('');

    This server is also using the new ripe whois server software and thus works the same way. If you are registered you can use this service when querying .il domains that way:

    $whois = new Whois();
    $whois->UseServer('uk', '{version},{ip} {query}');
    $result = $whois->Lookup('');

    They offer what they call WHOIS2 (see ) to registered users (usually Nominet members) with a higher amount of permited queries by hour. If you are registered you can use this service when querying .uk domains that way:

    $whois = new Whois();
    $whois->UseServer('uk', '{hname} {ip} {query}');
    $result = $whois->Lookup('');

This new feature also allows you to use a different whois server than the preconfigured or discovered one by just calling whois->UseServer and passing the tld and the server and args to use for the named tld. For example you could use another whois server for .au domains that does not limit the number of requests (but provides no owner information) using this:

$whois = new Whois();
$whois->UseServer('au', '');


$whois = new Whois();
$whois->UseServer('be', '');

to avoid the restrictions imposed by the .be whois server


$whois = new Whois();
$whois->UseServer('ip', '');

to lookup an ip address at specific whois server (but loosing the ability to get the results parsed by the appropiate handler)

UseServer can be called as many times as necessary. Please note that if there is a handler for that domain it will also be called but returned data from the whois server may be different than the data expected by the handler, and thus results could be different.

Getting results faster

If you just want to know if a domain is registered or not but do not care about getting the real owner information you can set:

$whois->deep_whois = false;

this will tell phpWhois to just query one whois server. For .com, .net and .tv domains and ip addresses this will prevent phpWhois to ask more than one whois server, you will just know if the donmain is registered or not and which is the registrar but not the owner information.


PHPWhois will assume that all whois servers return UTF-8 encoded output, if some whois server does not return UTF-8 data, you can include it in the NON_UTF8 array in whois.servers.php


There is an extended class called "whois.utils.php" which contains a debugging function called showObject(), if you showObject($result) it will output the total layout of the returned object to the web browser.

The latest version of the package and a demo script resides at

There is also be an article describing the package on at


If you're really stuck and can't figure something out, or you want to contribute an extended class for one of the TLD's, send a PR or open an issue on GitHub. One of the developers will get around to applying or responding.



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