Registering a domain name which is expiring

A domain name goes through a life cycle, and this life cycle can be reset if the owner chooses to renew it. However, what happens if the owner forgets to renew, doesn’t have the money to renew, or has quite simply lost interest in the domain and does not want to renew it?

What does a registered domain name mean?

A domain name is registered and is considered active. Registered domain name represents that an individual or company owns this domain name and can not be registered by anyone else at the moment. It will remain property of the registered owner until the registration time runs out. The minimum time it will be registered for is one year.

What happens when the domain name expires?

Once the registration period expires, the domain name will be placed on hold for a period of time. This varies depending on the company which was used to register it and also the type of TLD (.com, .net, .org etc). The on-hold period can last anything up to around 45 days, and during the on-hold period, the person who owns it can come along, re-register the domain and continue to use it. This domain will not count as having expired, and will carry on as having been registered for the full period. If the owner decides not to renew it or forgets, it will then move to a redemption period.

Redemption period

Redemption periods in terms of domain names last for 30 days and allow the owner to extend their registration. However, if they choose not to renew at renewal time or during the on-hold period, they will have to pay a penalty fee. The fee varies between registrars and can be up to several hundred dollars. So, as you can see, keeping your domain name renewed on time makes a lot more sense than leaving it until the last minute and paying expensive fees.

Pending delete phase

If the domain name is not renewed during the on-hold or redemption periods, it will go into the pending delete phase. This is a five-day period where the domain will be in limbo, the previous owner can’t register it, and a new owner can’t register it. This period lasts for five days, and then it will “drop” and be registerable by anyone. If the old owner chose to register it, then they could try to register it before anyone else. Still, there is a strong market for expired domain names, so if it has good metrics or is a valuable name, many people will be looking to register it.

The exception to this 4th rule is that some more valuable domain names may be made available for backorder/pre-order before they expire. This often means the domain will go to auction, and interested buyers will bid on the domain. Auctions can be an expensive way of purchasing a domain name, especially if it is useful to more than one person.


Suppose you’re interested in registering an expired domain or want to see what is coming up for auction. In that case, there are many different websites which are created specifically for this, such as SnapNames. So if you can’t find a domain name you like available to register, why not check out expired or upcoming expiring ones?

Published by Adrian

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