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Image of domain extensions overlaid with text register domain name almost permanently

Can’t Permanently Register A Domain Name, But Here’s What You Can Do

Marina Slemender
May 25, 2023 • 7 min read

The thought of being able to permanently buy a domain name and never having to worry about registration renewal, costs or processes is tempting, right? This is especially desirable by big brand name owners or domain investors who spent a lot of time, effort and money into building that domain name, and don’t ever want to lose it.

Even though there's no way to purchase a domain name forever, there are a couple of options you can take to prolong your domain name registration and avoid having to renew the registration every year. Let’s take a look at them!


Must-know about the domain name registration process

As you may already know, a domain name is your online address and is connected to the unique IP address of your site. It’s possible to register your domain name for a certain period of time, usually up to 10 years. Domain registries are databases that track domain registrations, but they don’t sell domain names directly to registrants. That’s where registrars come to play.

Registrars are the middleman between registries and registrants (people who own a domain name). Dynadot is a registrar - an entity that allows domains to be registered by the public and takes care of the marketing and business elements of domain registration, such as collecting the ownership record for the registry, listing domains for registration, allowing safe acquisition and management of domain name, and much more depending on the registrar.

There are some steps involved in the domain registration process but, neither the registrar nor the registrant own a domain name forever. Why is that? Let’s find out.


Why can’t you buy a domain name permanently?

As the domain name space grew, ICANN ('The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers', a non-profit responsible for securing and maintaining the structure of the internet) updated many regulations and changed them to match the evolving domain name space and industry. Even though this shift had a broad impact on domains as a whole, some fundamental regulations remained the same, such as the reasons behind not allowing permanent ownership of domains.

One of the main reasons for this is money-related. In 2020, there were more than 150 million .coms registered and in the Q1 of 2023, that number grew to more than 160 million, showing that there’s an increasing number of domains registered every year. A new registration brings more expenses for the ICANN, registries and registrars, including maintaining databases and servers, signing and tracking agreements, and paying fees at various levels. These expenses all add up. 

To cover the costs, a yearly registration fee is in place, often called “domain tax”, that covers the price of maintaining the infrastructure and all the processes. If the users were allowed to buy a domain forever, there wouldn't be a space to adjust the prices according to the inflation and some new expenses. Over time, the costs would probably outweigh the income, making the registrars, registries and ICANN impossible to keep afloat.

Another reason for not allowing people to buy a domain permanently is more ethical. ICANN wanted to keep some level of democracy throughout the process. The yearly renewal fee prevents users from purchasing thousands of domain names and having them locked forever from others. Imagine if the owner passes away or puts an outrageous price on a premium domain name with intent to keep it forever. This could result in many domains being lost forever and cause some general complications when it comes to long-term ownership.


How to buy a domain name almost permanently?

Even though you can’t purchase a domain name forever, you can register them for as long as your registrar exists. The first step is buying a one-year or longer registration and after that regularly renewing the registration before it expires. There are several ways you can register the domain for longer. Let’s discuss them in more detail. 


Auto renew is one of the most essential tools you have for (almost) permanently buying a domain name. It protects you from having an array of issues such as having to memorize the domain’s expiration date and go through the process of renewal, or potentially losing the domain name completely.

No matter your or your business’s circumstances, whether you’re unable to access the Internet, away on vacation, or dealing with some professional problems, your domain name will be renewed.

One crucial component when it comes to auto-renew is to ensure you have your current payment information on your account where your domain resides. Some registrants change their credit cards and forget to update that information in their account, leaving registrars unable to charge for the domain name and marking it as not renewed. Another way to avoid this situation is to add a backup payment option to your file. So even if your credit card changes, expires or doesn’t have enough funds, the registrar could charge for the renewal from your other source.

Dynadot has the auto renew option and it’s simple to set up:

  1. Sign in to your Dynadot account.
  2. Go to "My Domains" from the left-side menu bar and click "Manage Domains" in the drop-down.
  3. Check the box next to the domain name(s) you wish to auto-renew.
  4. Click on "Renew Options" from the "Bulk Action" drop-down menu.
  5. On the new page, choose "auto-renew" from the drop-down menu and select or enter your payment method.
  6. Click on "Save Settings" and it’s all set up.

auto-renew option with Dynadot


If you’re sure you’ll need the domain name for a while, long-term registration is a good option. Many registrars offer the possibility to register a domain name for more than 1 year, such as  two, five or maximum 10 years, meaning you pay upfront for the chosen amount of time. The benefits of long-term registration are that you don’t have to worry about the renewal every year or the possible price increase over time.


Expiration protection functions as a grace period, giving you some extra time after your domain expires to renew the ownership. How long this period is depends on the registrar’s rules. With Dynadot, you get up to 40 days of wiggle room to renew your domain name.


Most registrars offer domain registrations no longer than 10 years, but there are a few who advertise the possibility of lifetime registration as a way to buy a domain name forever. Many of the latter ones are certified and legitimate businesses, yet seem to contradict the basic rule of ICANN - registrations cannot be made for longer than 10 years. If so, how does the lifetime registration work?

The process is quite straightforward - you pay upfront for as many years as you guess your lifetime will be (let’s say a 100), but the registrar doesn’t register your domain name for that long. The registrar registers it for 10 years, which is the maximum time, and then automatically renews it after that period for another 10 years, and repeats the process.

This is a quite uncommon practice among registrars, and although in theory, it may sound perfect, in practice it has some pitfalls. For example, if the registrar goes under before the end of your lifetime period, it won’t be able to renew your domain. In that case, you will lose the remaining money and possibly your domain name.


Does that mean domain ownership is temporary?

Domains are their own masters - no one owns them, not the registrant, not the registrar, and not even the registry.

What you get when you pay the fee for a domain is the control over a database record. Once you register a domain name, you can decide on the IP address users will be taken to when they arrive on your domain name. This control is temporary, but can be extended if you renew the domain name registration. If not, your registration will be up and someone else can take over the domain.


To sum up

The answer to the question ‘can you buy a domain forever?’ is still a no. But, that doesn’t mean there are no options to register your domain for longer than a year. Which of the options we discussed in this article is best for you? Well, that depends on your plans for the domain, your business and finances. Think of all these before making the final decision and you’re sure to find the best way to register your domain name for almost forever if you plan accordingly.

Marina Slemender
Marketing Associate

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