What Happens When a Domain Expires? (with timeline)
If you don’t already know it domain names expire after some time. It is a usual case that you might forget to renew a domain name and that happened to me in the past too. You probably wonder what happens in those cases and what you can do after your domain name expires.
So what happens when a domain expires? When a domain expires, it will enter a renewal grace period (around 18-45 days based on your domain name registrar). In this period you can renew your domain with the regular price and get it back. After this period domain will enter a redemption phase that lasts around 30 days and you need to pay an additional fee (usually around 80$) + regular renewal price to recover it. When both periods are done plus some additional days (5-20 days more) the domain would be available for registration to the public.
The above answer is a general timeline for what is happening after a domain name expires. In the next paragraphs, i will explain more and include examples from the most popular domain name registrars. In some cases there are some different approaches from some registrars.
Domain Name Expired and Now What?
You can’t buy a domain name forever and you only lease it for a certain time period (1 – 10 years). If you haven’t set up an auto-renewal with your registrar there is a chance that you might forget to renew manually. When an expiration date is close you will receive notifications emails that you need to renew your domain so you don’t lose it.
On the first day after the expiration date, any service associated with the domain will stop working. For example, if you have created a website with that domain visitors will see a parked page instead. The same happens if you use an email related to the domain. You will not be able to send and receive anything.
Since hosting and domains are different services, your site is not deleted but you just can’t access it by visiting the expired domain. You can renew your domain and re-adjust necessary settings so email and site can work as before.
Domain Name Grace Period
In this first period that usually is about 18-45 days you can renew with the regular cost and no additional fee is paid. This time frame is called grace period and you can consider it as the last chance that most registrars give you to recover an expired domain name. How long this period lasts is based on the domain extension and what is your registrar policy. In general the timelines i present are valid for these extensions ( .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .us, .ws, .name, .cc, .mobi, .me and .tv ).
Registrar is a private business that handles the leasing of a domain to the end users. Some examples are Godaddy and Namecheap. The right of leasing domains was given to them by Registries. A Registry is an organization that manages top-level domains such as .com or .net.
Domain Name Redemption Period
In this phase, you can’t renew your expired domain with the regular price (8$-15$) but you need to pay an additional fee around 80$. Some registrars they even put domain names in an auction when they enter in this stage. There are many people, sites and tools that searching for valuable expired domains! In some cases, those auctions reach many thousands of dollars as a final price.
The general rule is that the domain name redemption period lasts around 30 days.
When the period is close to the end some registrars will let you get your expired domain only if you enter an auction. For example, Godaddy has an 18-days only grace period, then 12 days redemption phase (it is one of the rare exceptions in 30-days rule) and lastly 11 days to get to an auction and compete with others for your expired domain.
If you don’t renew your domain in any phase or somebody didn’t get it on auction then the domain changes to pending delete status. Usually, it will stay like that for 5 days but it can take up to 20 days in some cases. You can’t really do anything in that stage but only check from time to time when the domain will become available to the public.
This is the last stage before the domain becomes available for registration from anyone. The domain now can be reserved like a domain name that never was registered before, from any individual and in any registrar.
How Long After Domain Expires Can i Register it?
If we count all the different stages and from the moment the domain first expired until the time that is available to the public then it should take around 80 days.
In the next paragraphs, I am presenting the exact policies and timelines that most popular registrars follow. Please, consider that there are some exceptions in general rule for some domain name extensions. The timeline applies mostly for .com , .net , .org , . info , .biz . I will mention the exceptions in the end.
Godaddy Expired Domains
Until day 18 : (after the expiration date) you can renew your expired domain with the regular price (around 15$ for .com domain). No additional fee needs to get paid.
Day 19 – 29: You can still renew your expired domain but in addition to renewal cost you need to pay an $80 fee. Keep in mind that in day 26 your domain would be placed in an auction.
Day 30 – 41: You can only participate in the auction and you can’t renew in a normal way (even with additional fee). In this stage, you hope that there is not much competition for your domain. On Day 41 if someone has a bid and won the auction, get the domain in his GoDaddy account.
Day 42: You can’t longer bid for the domain and no-one else can. Τhe domain returns to the Registry.
In my understanding Registry will hold the domain for 30 days more ( + 5 days pending delete) before finally releases it to the public. It is not 100% clear what happens after day 42 with a Godaddy expired domain.
What we know for sure is that when a domain goes to the Registry they don’t release it immediately to the public. The timeframe that I mentioned in the previous paragraph should be the correct one.
WordPress.com Expired Domains
30 days and 5-7 days prior to expiration, notifications will be sent to your email to let you know that your domain is about to expire. The same happens 3 days after your domain expired.
The grace period for WordPress.com lasts 10 days to 2 weeks. You can still renew the domain with the regular price in this phase.
After that, we have the redemption period that you can only renew if you pay the redemption fee ($80) first. In the WordPress site, no specific timeline was mentioned for that but if they follow the general rule should be around 30 days.
Sometimes domain would not be available for renewal in that phase unless you contact WordPress support first and ask for a link to make the payment.
This is your last chance to get back the domain or else it will return to the pool of available domain names.
Namecheap Expired Domains
Even 30 days after the expiration date you can renew your domain name with the regular price. If you don’t take advantage of this time frame then the expired domain enters the redemption stage for an additional 30 days.
Be careful during that period Namecheap has the right to auction your domain. If you are lucky and the domain is not auctioned off you can renew it by paying the redemption fee (need to contact support to find the exact amount) plus the regular renewal price.
If you miss that chance too then the domain is pending delete for at least 5 days (in most cases) and then it is available to the public.
Google Expired Domains
No additional fee needed to renew the domain in the first 30 days. You can renew using the standard rate. From day 31 until 60 you can recover the domain if you pay the redemption fee (depends on the extension but for .com is $100) in addition to the regular renewal fee.
Google doesn’t send domains in auction-like Godaddy and Namecheap does but in their site they mention that it isn’t guaranteed that you can get your domain during 31-60 days timeframe.
Bluehost Expired Domains
The same approach here for the first period of 30 days when you can renew by paying the regular renewal fee. After the 30 days, you need to pay a redemption fee of 70$ in addition to the regular renewal fee.
Hostgator Expired Domains
Hostgator divides their expired domains into 2 categories:
1.)Domains Registered in LaunchPad (register.hostgator.com)
In the first 35 days, you can renew without additional cost except for the regular renewal fee. On the 36th day, the domain will enter an auction. If the current owner wants to renew the domain, he can but only if the domain hasn’t received a bid yet.
The redemption fee, in that case, would be $75 plus the regular renewal fee.
2.)Domains Registered with eNom
Until day 28 after expiration, you can renew the domain with the standard renewal price. After day 29 until day 35, you need to pay also the 75$ redemption fee for a successful renewal.
On the 36th day, the domain is about to be deleted and you can’t renew it.
Nominet Expired Domains .uk .co.uk .org.uk .me.uk .ltd.uk
What happens with those expired domains is really a pleasant situation from the domain owner’s perspective. You have 60 days after the expiration date to renew your domain with no redemption fee but only the normal renewal fee.
Domain goes typically offline after 30 days but you still have the option to recover the domain even 30 days after your domain goes offline ( 60 days in total from expiration date).
.in Expired Domains
What happens when a .in domain is expired is that it enters in a 30-day redemption grace period. The status of domain changes to “pending delete restorable and hold”. All services associated with the domain such as email and website stop working.
In the next phase after the first 30 days, the domain will enter in redemption hold period. This stage lasts only 5 days and you can’t do anything to recover the email. On the 6th day, the domain becomes available for registration from anyone.