When you signup to buy hosting or domain names from a provider you should take a minute or two to read over the terms and conditions (the small print that most of us try to avoid!)
Most hosting providers and / or domain registrars will provide a standard set of terms and conditions on their website ie. you can expect to see references to network abuse, non-payment etc.,
These may seem a little daunting, but there is nothing strange in most of them and the service providers’ terms are usually there to protect both parties.
However, some providers may have conditions specifically governing domain transfers out ie. for those clients who either wish to move their domain’s dns or want to actually transfer their domain to another provider.
Most reputable companies do not charge an “unlock” or “release” fee. If you do not have any outstanding bills you should be able to move provider.
Some UK providers, however, will charge anything from € 25 to €70 to “allow” you to move your own domain.
In the case of .ie domains this charge cannot be levied, as the listed admin contact of the domain name (ie. the registrant) can contact the IEDR directly to get the domain’s dns repointed.
With co.uk domains it is possible to sidestep the tag holder (registrar) and go direct to Nominet. The cost of this process is Stg£25, so it can work out a lot cheaper than paying the “randsom” fees that some providers try to levy.
With regard to .com domains you may have no choice but to pay the fees or seek legal advice if the domain’s whois details are not accurate.
The best advice is to check that the domain’s details are correct and that you are listed as the admin contact.