Table of Contents
- Where to start
- Add your domain to your nation
- Domain settings: name servers and email
- Connecting a site and managing subdomains
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Where to start
Custom domains are the most visible aspect of the internet, yet how domains work is a bit complicated. In this HOWTO, you'll find instructions for attaching a domain to your nation.
- Buy a custom domain from a domain provider, like GoDaddy or 1&1. Once you connect your domain, you must keep the registration active with the provider to keep it connected to your website.
- Your domain provider must be able to support full DNS access and/or support 6 custom nameservers. If your provider does not, you will need to transfer it to a provider who can.
- Most domains connect within 24 hours, but it can take up to 72 hours. Keep this in mind if you have a close deadline.
- You cannot connect a 3rd party domain to a specific page on your site. All redirects will resolve to the primary domain.
- SSL certificates can only be issued to the subdomain, not the root domain. Some domain providers can provide SSL for the root domain, which you can redirect to the subdomain.
Add your domain to your nation
It is very important to do the steps in this document in this order. By adding your domain to your nation first, you create a place for the domain to land once you point your name server records to NationBuilder. Go to Settings > Domains. Click on + New domain.
1. Enter the domain name in the text box. Do not include 'www.' For example, our domain would be entered as:
If you answer Yes to any of the following statements, click here to connect your domain another way. Otherwise, continue to step 2.
- I want to manage my own DNS
- I already have email setup on my email set up on my domain
- I have other DNS records in place for other services
2. Check the “NationBuilder should manage this domain” box.
If you have subnations, you'll be given the option to allow them to use the domain. Checking the box allows them to access the domain. Keeping the box unchecked means only the parent nation can connect to the domain.
3. Select a site to connect to the domain. The site selected here will live at
4. Click the Add domain button.
Domain settings: name servers and email
When you add a domain, you'll be taken to domain settings.
1. Update your nameserver records. In a new browser tab or window, log into your domain provider account, and find where you manage your DNS settings. Depending on your provider, this may be called Zone File Settings, Manage Domains, Domain Manager, DNS Manager, or something similar.
Add all six name servers listed in the "Required value" column to your domain registrar's control panel.
Learn how to configure your name servers if your domain is registered with 1&1, GoDaddy, NameCheap, or Rackspace. If you don't see text boxes for inserting six, there is usually an option to add additional name servers.
When the nameservers are set correctly, the records in the 'current value' column will match those in the 'required value' column.
2. Confirm your Email Provider in the dropdown menu. If you are already using email with your domain, it is extremely important to make sure the correct email provider is selected on this page.
If your email provider is not listed in the menu, select Custom Email and email email@example.com for additional support. You will need to email any email related records to NB support.
Click Save to confirm your email provider selection.
📌 Note: Once your name servers resolve to NationBuilder, you need to re-save your primary site to complete the process.
Name server changes usually take effect within an hour. Remember that it can take up to 48 hours for your changes to propagate across the internet.
Read on, as you will need to finalize your website settings.
Connecting a site and managing subdomains
After the domain name servers resolve to the required values, you can finalize attaching your site to the domain.
📌 Note: This step is required -- any site added before the name servers resolve to NationBuilder will not be completely attached until you re-save the site!
Click on Sites, and you will see the list of websites attached to the domain.
Click hover over the domain and click Edit next to your primary website.
Click the Save button at the bottom of the screen.
Now your site is attached! Your website will be viewable on your custom domain.
If you need to add another subdomain or if you did not attach a site when connecting the domain, click the + New site link.
1. URL: To connect your primary domain to a site, enter "www" in the text field. Otherwise, enter the subdomain you wish to create.
2. Select the appropriate site from the dropdown field.
3. Click the Save button.
You will be taken back to the full lists of sites using that domain.
📌 Note: each website can only be attached to one domain, and a website must already exist in the Website section of your control panel before it can be selected. If you see the following message, it means that all sites already have to a domain. You can either create a new site, or remove a current site from another domain.
Congratulations! Your custom domain is all set. You should not need to make any other changes.
Reasons to contact NationBuilder Support:
- If your site does not display your custom domain after 48 hours, first make sure you re-saved your site. That step is required to complete the connection process.
- If you would need to add any dns records to a domain managed by NationBuilder.
When connecting/removing a custom domain, it can take a couple of days to add the SSL certification. SSL certificates get attached in batches on Mondays and Thursdays starting at 3am PST. This is process can take up to 24 hours.
You will be notified by email when the process of activating the SSL certification has been completed.
You can contact the support team on firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to make sure your domain was correctly configured and is in the pipeline for the SSL batches.
Once your domain has SSL attached, you should not make any changes unless utterly essential. Changes to your website setup could cause the SSL to be lost and you'll need to wait for the next batch for it to be reset.