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What Happens When a Domain Expires: What You Need to Know!

Brett McKay
Jan 20, 2020 • 5 min read
(Updated on Mar 12, 2024)

Have you ever wondered about the domain expiration process? Domains aren’t digital properties that users own when purchased. They have a registered lifecycle that will eventually expire if not renewed. So, what happens when a domain expires? With this guide, we’ll take you through the transition of a registered domain reverting back to the market.


Expiration Process Overview

If you’re just looking for information on when your domain will expire and the expiration timeline, use the chart below. Please note that the specifics will vary from registrar to registrar and the specific top-level domain (TLD) will also play a factor.

Note: Dates 0n the chart are based on a one-year registration and dates may vary between registrars.

01/01/23 to 12/31/23 Domain Ownership Period Domain name purchased and is registered to that user for a specified amount of time.
01/01/24 to 01/30/24 Domain Expires and Renewal Grace Period begins User can renew the domain for 30 days after the expiry date to reregister the domain back to the account. Cost is equal to the renewal cost of domain’s TLD.
01/31/24 to 03/02/24 Redemption Period Domain is no longer under the registrar or reseller’s control. Domain renewal is still possible but at an additional cost (determined by the TLD) and will take additional time to process.

Possibility that the domain is not retrievable at this point.
03/03/24 to 03/08/24 Full Expiration Domain is rereleased to the public and can be found in a domain name search (typically 5 days after the start of the full expiration).


Domain Ownership Period

Length: 1 – 10 Years (determined by user)

After a domain is purchased, it moves into the domain ownership period where it is registered to the user who made the purchase. This period can last anywhere from one year to ten years, depending on what option the user selected during the purchasing process. For all of the examples in the article, we are referring to a one-year registration.

To better understand what happens when a domain expires, there are three important domain-related entities:


Central Registries

Central registries (also referred to as domain name registries) are responsible for maintaining a database of all domain registrations under one TLD. For example, .com is under a registry called Verisign. These registries will also hold the Whois records and DNS for those TLDs. One registry will often support multiple TLDs (such as Verisign managing .com, .net and more).



This is us! Companies like Dynadot work with the registries (as specified by rules created by ICANN) to sell you the domains you’re looking for while registering domains on the registry’s behalf. To simplify – registrars sell domains, and registries manage and keep track of the domains. There are also resellers who will work with registrars to sell domains to users. The process of connecting a registry with a registrar can be technical and complex, which is one of the reasons there are resellers.



This is the user who purchased the domain. The registrant never ‘owns’ the domain, it is just registered to that user. To become a registrant and register a domain, visit our domain search page.


Domain Renewal Period: Countdown Begins!

Length: 30 days (TLD-specific)

One year has passed! If you (the registrant) have not set up your domain for auto-renewal, the domain will be expired. Your domain’s email and website will not function outside the domain ownership period and will be unavailable. Don’t panic, there is still time to fix this! If you want to avoid this hassle, renew on your ‘My Domains’ account page. Users who are unsure about how long they want to keep their domain may prefer auto-renewal off. All registrars will notify the registrant well before this phase begins.


Renewal Grace Period

This period typically lasts 30 days (though do note that the amount of time varies between TLDs. Visit the TLD page, find your TLD and see the ‘renew’ column for the exact timeframe). Domains in the renewal grace period can be renewed at the regular renewal prices, which are determined by the price of the TLD at that time. As long as the domain isn't up for auction, it will be immediately added back into the registrant’s account once the renewal is made.

During the renewal grace period, the domain may be placed on a domain aftermarket. Various registrars have different policies on when the domain enters their aftermarket, so this may vary (and many registrars don’t even have an aftermarket). At Dynadot, other users can place backorders on these soon-to-fully-expire domains. 

Note: Check out currently available domains for backorder on the Dynadot domain backorder list.


Domain Redemption Period

Length: 30 days

Try not to let your valuable domain reach this point in the domain expiration process. Once the domain enters the redemption period, it leaves our hands, returning to the central registry. To attempt to retrieve, it requires working with the registry. This takes time as it requires registrars to submit a request directly to the registry.

This process requires an additional cost which will vary based on the domain extension. To learn more about the cost, visit the TLD page of the domain you’re interested in knowing more about and see the ‘restore price’.

Note: Some domains can be sold in the Dynadot expired auction during this time. If this is the case, there will be no domain redemption period. Renew domains of high value during the renewal grace period to avoid having other users obtain the domain.


Domain is out of reach!

The redemption period is complete. If the domain made it through the domain expiration process without any backorders or bids on the expired domain, it officially becomes an unregistered domain. Approximately 5 days after the domain redemption period, any domain name search can be used to find the domain and purchase it for the registration cost.

Note: If the domain had a single backorder, the rereleased domain will go directly into that registrant’s account. If there were multiple backorders, it enters a backorder auction.



In summary, domain expiration doesn’t happen immediately; there is typically a one to two-month period to renew. Just be aware that it can become expensive to renew your domain if you miss the renewal grace period. With the knowledge of what happens when a domain expires, hopefully, you’ll be more aware of the various deadlines to ensure all your domains are properly renewed. When in doubt, be safe and just set up Dynadot auto-renewal - as it may help you save both time and money.


Brett McKay
Marketing Associate

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