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Connect a custom domain to your nation while managing your own DNS
Connect a custom domain to your nation while managing your own DNS

Four steps to connect a custom domain to your Nation while managing your own DNS records.

Updated over a week ago

Below are four steps to connect your custom domain to your Nation (self-managed DNS)

Self-managing your DNS records is a good option if any of the below are true:

  • you have experience managing your own DNS records

  • need to update your records regularly

  • will only be using your domain to send email blasts (not using NationBuilder for your website)

  • you already receive a high volume of inbound emails at an address using your domain.

Don't need to manage your own DNS? NationBuilder can do that for you - just click here for instructions.

Step 1. Add your domain to your nation

Login to your control panel and go to Settings > Domains > + New domain.

1. In the Domain text box, enter the domain you want associated with your nation (e.g. Do not include www or any other subdomain.

2. Leave the box labelled "NationBuilder should manage this domain" unchecked.

If you have subnations, you will have the option to allow them to use the domain.

3. If you want to connect a site to, select the site from the dropdown menu. Note: If you want to connect a subdomain (e.g., do not select a site from this screen.

4. Click the Add domain button.

There are two components to adding your domain to NationBuilder. This first portion covers connecting your NationBuilder website to your domain, so that visitors to your domain can see your website. The second portion authenticates your custom domain's email address, so that your NationBuilder broadcaster can send mass emails using your custom email address.

Step 2. Connect your domain to your NationBuilder website

If you want to connect a domain managed elsewhere to a site hosted by NationBuilder, edit the domain and click on + New site.

1. Enter the subdomain to connect. If you are connecting the primary domain, enter www in the text field. You could also type "action" or any other phrase. Do not include a period at the end of the subdomain.

2. Select the site in your nation that should be connected from the dropdown menu. This dropdown menu includes all sites in your nation that are not attached to a custom domain.

3. Click the Save button.

📌 Note: If you do not see this screen, all sites in your nation are already attached to a custom domain. You will need to either create a new site in the Website section of the control panel, or remove an existing site from it's current domain.

Next, go to your domain registrar and add a CNAME.

In your domain registrar, add your subdomain (i.e. www, action, etc.) as the name/host of your record. Add the value beginning with "proxy-..." in the points to/value field.

CNAME changes usually take effect within an hour. Remember that it can take up to 48 hours for your changes to propagate across the internet.

Handling your root domain

If you are going to connect your primary domain to a website in your nation, be sure you can redirect the root domain correctly. The root domain is - your primary domain on NationBuilder will always display as You should create a 301 permanent redirect (no masking).

Since only one domain can be attached to a single NationBuilder site, redirects can also be used if you own many domains. An example would be if is attached to your site, but you also own and A redirect would need to be created so that people going to the URLs or are redirected to

Step 3. Add CNAME records to prepare for email blasts

If you plan on using NationBuilder to send email blasts using an email address on your custom domain email, you will need to complete this process.

This does not affect your ability to receive emails at your custom domain email. It just lets email providers know that you own the domain you are using in NationBuilder.

CNAME records need to be added to authenticate your email blasts. You can access these settings by going to Settings > Domains > Hover over and click Edit next to the domain, which will take you to the Settings section for the domain. 

Copy these records and go to where you manage your DNS records. Add the records as new CNAME records for your domain. Once you add the records to your domain manager, it can take up to 48 hours for those changes to propagate. You can check the current value by clicking the refresh button. 

These records authenticate your domain and help to prevent damage to your email reputation. These records are unique -- they will be different for each domain connected to a nation. While they are generating, you may briefly see this message:

If this message persists, please email [email protected] for assistance.

📌 Note: Some domain providers, such as GoDaddy, do not require a trailing dot (.) at the end of the CNAME record. Please refer to your domain provider's documentation for clarification on how to add CNAME records. 

Once you have completed all of the steps above, you can attach a specific email address to a broadcaster in your nation. You can then send email on your custom domain.

There is a quick way to check if your broadcaster is authenticated: when you draft and save an email blast you should not see a flash message at the top of your screen. If you broadcaster is not authenticated, this notification will appear:

If you do not authenticate your broadcaster, we will automatically send your blast from a generic sender domain. Blast emails from your broadcaster will show up with a “via” line in your “from” information. 

To ensure optimal deliverability, make sure you also have a DMARC record set up in your domain registrar. This is external to NationBuilder and you can find DMARC record generators online, like Valimail, which will create a record and help you monitor the results. You can also simply look for “DMARC generator” to find a free online tool.

4. Wait for your SSL Certificate to be generated

When connecting/removing a custom domain, it can take a few minutes to add the SSL certification. SSL certificates get attached after you correctly configure your custom domain in the control panel.

You will be notified in your Control Panel when the process of activating the SSL certification is complete.

You can contact the support team on [email protected] 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.

A note about CAA Records

This only applies to customers who are managing their own DNS

A CAA record is a type of DNS record that allows the owner of a domain to restrict which Certificate Authorities (CAs) are allowed to issue SSL certificates for that domain. CAA records are configured in your DNS provider’s control panel, and follow this pattern: domain CAA <flag> <tag> <value>.

If your organization is utilizing CAA records, you'll need to modify or add to these records in order to allow certificates from to be provisioned for your domain. Without doing this, NationBuilder will not be able to provision a certificate for your custom domain.

The following uses as an example of how the records should be configured: CAA 0 issue "" CAA 0 issuewild ""

There is only one flag used (0), and there are three possible tags (issue, issuewild, iodef). The value is the domain name of the Certificate Authority (CA) in question (

You’ll need to set up 2 records matching the example above for each of the domains you'll be associating with a NationBuilder site. If a domain already has an existing record matching one or more of these records, you don't need to duplicate it. A domain may already have CAA records for Certificate Authorities (CA) other than That's okay, and you don't need to remove them. As long as the two records for exist similar to the example above, we will be able to provide SSL for websites on that domain.

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