What happens when a domain expires?

Losing a domain can be a serious problem and it may not be possible to get it back

If you decide not to renew your domain it will expire. This means any email, websites, services and DNS records you have associated with it will stop working.

What is the process?

When a domain expires different registrars have different approaches. Typically though the stages are something like this:

  1. Domain not renewed (up to 7 days). Email and web services will stop working.
  2. Grace period (up to 30 days).
  3. Redemption period (up to 30 days).
  4. Pending delete by registrar. The WHOIS record is deleted (up to 5 days).
  5. Domain released for sale.

Please note that these timescales vary between registrars and could be longer or shorter.

I made a mistake, I need my domain!

During the grace period and redemption period it may be possible to buy the domain back. This is by no means guaranteed and there may be additional fees charged by the registrar (up to £200) plus the costs for our time involved in securing the domain for you.

Released domains

After the redemption period the domain may be listed for auction by the registrar on the open market. At this point the domain can be purchased by the highest bidder, but not all expired domains are put up for auction. If there are no buyers the domain will be released back to the market for anyone to register on a first-come, first served basis.

Some companies wait for domains to be released and purchase them as soon as they become available. They are able to do this by using an automated process, so if your domain is released it may be purchased before you get the chance.

Domain or cyber squatting

This is where another party registers your domain with the intention of inflating the price of the domain to sell it back to you or someone else. The domain could also be used to impersonate your organisation, or for hosting unsavoury or explicit content and thereby holding you to ransom to prevent reputational damage to your business or organisation.

Why would someone want an old domain? Domains are relatively cheap but can be very valuable as people and organisations rely on them. Imagine if a domain had accidentally expired for an ecommerce store company, this would result in lost revenue and if it was then registered by a third party, the company could go out of business. Even seemingly unimportant domains can have some value either in monetary terms (for auctioning or ransoming) or in search engine value.

Our approach

As domains are so crucial to individuals and organisations, we automatically renew them each year on your behalf so you can be certain your domain is safe with us. Renewals happen at least 30 days before the official renewal date so we require at least 45 days notice to cancel a domain. If you fail to make payment for a domain name renewal this may also result in your domain name being cancelled – this is set out in our terms and conditions.

Key takeaways

  • When domains expire email and web services will stop working.
  • It is hard to get back a domain that has expired and there may be additional fees and charges.
  • Your domain may be registered by someone else and used for purposes that may reflect badly on you or your organisation.
  • You may have to pay a large fee to buy the domain from someone else if you later decide you need it.
  • If you are in any doubt, keep your domain renewed unless you are absolutely certain you don’t need it anymore and understand the consequences of letting it go.