How Expired Domains Work


In the early days of the Internet when a domain name expired it was already available for other people to register it. Nowadays the process is more complex; the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) created what is called “Grace Period” to protect the registrants.


The Daily Domainer blog has an interesting article titled “Expired — But Not Gone” describing the process in detail. Basically once a domain expires it enters into the “Auto Renew Grace Period”. This period usually lasts 30 days and the owner of the domain is able to renew anytime during that time frame. Should the owner fail to renew the domain it will enter into the Redemption period.

The registrar becomes the owner of the domain on this period, and it will try to sell the domain through auctions or retain it in the case it generates PPC revenues. Finally if the domain is not sold through an auction and if it is also not generating revenues the registrar will release it.

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14 Responses to “How Expired Domains Work”

  • scot

    hello : )

    How about back ordering? is it a good idea to do this instead of waiting for the domain to go to auction?

  • Bang Kritikus

    Domain expired you must pay again

  • Elizabeth

    This is tricky! So if you really want an expired domain, is it good or not good to contact the registrar? Once they know someone else wants it, they could actually auction between the original registrar and the new person and ask more money? I guess the best thing is to wait, hope that no-one else makes a bid, and either get the site later or try to buy it from the orginal owner afterwards. Or would it be less risky to beat anyone else wanting it?

  • Travis

    Great article and I love the graphic explaining the domain expiration process. I’ll have to refer some other folks to this.

  • Giri Kolanupaka

    I have had a domain that expired from enomon 20 Apr 2007 and is still at redemptionPeriod. Is there a rule that this has to be 30 days or can it be more than that? I heard for enom it can be upto 90 days? I have been doing whois lookup for the domain to be released to the public for me to reregiter that domain with a different registrar. Will will be logged by enom and they will not let it out? Any suggestions on how to get this domain back? Thanks.


  • Armen

    I’m in this situation – so I’ve made an offer. If it works it works, if not, I may come up with another name.

  • Daniel

    Armen, depends how popular the domain is. If the domain is not a very good one I would wait because it is probably that the registrar will just release it.

    If the domain is hot though you might want to approach te owner and make a private offer. That is what Darren did for The domain was auctioned on ebay by the owner, but Darren managed to set a private deal with the guy.

  • Armen


    If you were aware of a domain that was near expiration, and suspected that it wouldn’t be renewed. Would you recommend approaching the owner to purchase before it goes back into the hands of the registrar?

  • Jason Drohn

    This is a nice writeup. There is quite a bit of leeway when it comes to registering domains, but each registrar acts a bit different. It is always best to be wary, but even the most conscious webmaster has a lapse of memory from time to time.

  • Daniel

    Frank, the model comes from a presentation that was delivered by the ICANN itself.

    Some registrars allow you to buy your domain on the redemption period, but that is not required by law and it is not included in most registration terms of services. The registrars just do it for “good will”, and not all of them do.

  • Mike Empuria

    Frank’s right. The redemption period is when you can buy back your domain name before it gets deleted. In the case of the charge is a massive £100 ($200).

  • Frank

    I’m not sure that your model is 100% correct or if that is how one registrar works. I’m quite familiar with how eNom works. eNom has both a redemption period and what they called “extended redemption”. during these periods they will let you buy your domain back for the nice low price of $160 (USD). Depending on the “value” of the domain, I’ve seen it stay in extended redemption for months. Right now I have a domain that expired 1/1/2007 and it’s still in extended redemption.

  • Daniel

    That is right Egon.

    Another interesting issue is the fact that the “auto renew grace period” is a common practice among registrars, but it is not required by law.

    The bottom line being, do not count on letting your domain expire and having those 30 days to renew it. The registrar might shorten this period at will.

  • egon

    hmm. I’ve been curious of this exact process for a while now, thanks for clearing this up.

    So even if I put a hold on an expiring domain, if the registrar decides they want to keep it, I’m SOL?

    So these expiring domain sites are pretty much useless, huh?

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