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

Brett McKay
Jan 20, 2020

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 included on the chart are based on a one-year registration.
DATESTATEWHAT IT MEANS
01/01/20 to 12/31/20Domain Ownership PeriodDomain name purchased and is registered to that user for a specified amount of time.
01/01/21 to 01/30/21Domain Expires and Renewal Grace Period beginsUser 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.
01/31/21 to 02/08/21Renewal Grace Period with Late FeeRenewal cost now has a $10 late fee in addition to the TLDs listed renewal cost.
02/09/21 to 03/09/21Redemption PeriodDomain 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.
03/10/21Full 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).


Registrars

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, 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.


Registrants

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

With these definitions in mind, let’s move into the domain expiration process.


Domain Renewal Period: Countdown Begins!

Length: 40 days (TLD-specific)

One year has passed! If you (the registrant) have not setup 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 fix this! If you want to avoid this hassle, setup auto-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.

This period is called the ‘Renewal Grace Period’.


Renewal Grace Period

This period typically lasts 40 days and is divided into two parts.

(Note: the amount of time varies between TLDs, though a majority are 40 days. Visit the TLD page, find your TLD and see the ‘renew’ column for the exact timeframe.)

During the first 30 days, the domain can be renewed at the regular renewal prices, which is determined by the price of the TLD at that time.

During the last 10 days, there is an additional $10 late renewal fee applied on-top of the regular renewal price. It goes without saying, try to avoid waiting until this point.

Throughout the renewal grace period, the domain will be placed in the domain aftermarket on the Dynadot platform. Various registrars have different policies on when the domain enters their aftermarket, so this may vary (and many registrars don’t have an aftermarket). At Dynadot, other users are able to place backorders on these soon-to-fully-expire domains. If the domain is renewed and a backorder is in place, all users with a backorder will be fully refunded. The domain will be immediately added back into the registrants account that made the renewal.


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, 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’.

Of important note, some domains can be sold on the expired auction marketplace during this time. If this is the case, there will be no domain redemption period. It is key to 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. If the domain had a single backorder, the rereleased domain will go directly into that registrants 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 the longer you wait, the cost increases. 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 setup auto-renew – it will save you time and money.


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