While originally domain names were registered for a fixed period of 2 years, most Registrars now offer the option of registering a domain name for a period of 1-10 years, often with substantial discounts for extended registrations
A domain name that is approaching its renewal date is said to be “expiring soon” and a domain name that has passed its renewal date (also known as its “expiry date”) without the renewal fee being paid is said to have “expired”.
The domain expiration cycle (the process by which the domain name expires, and then is made available for re-registration) differs significantly from Registrar to Registrar. Knowing what’s happening behind the scenes might give you a better understanding of what happens to a domain name once it has expired.
Here is a typical path a domain name will take during its “life-cycle”:
Most Registrars have a “grace period” (sometimes detailed explicitly on their website or by email, often times applied without comment) after domain names have expired.
During that grace period, the original owner of the domain name can sometimes pay to renew their domain name and hence remove it from “expired” status and reactivated. Some Registrars may impose an additional administrative “penalty fee” to renew domain names during their grace period. If the domain name owner renews the name during the grace period, then the name returns to Stage 1.
For .com domain names, after the grace period expires and the name has still not been renewed, it enters the redemption period. During this period, domain owners must pay a fee, often several hundred dollars, to renew the domain and return it to active status.
At the end of this cycle, the existing owner can no longer renew their domain name and has lost all control over it.
After the domain name has returned to the market, the Registry refunds the ‘holding charge’ they had automatically charged to the Registrar.
The key to successful recovery of an expired domain name is two-fold:
Check out the next section on how to find and buy expired domain names.