Last month we talked about various mistakes to avoid when picking a domain name. One mistake which didn’t make the list was not remembering to renew it over the following years.
Help – my domain has expired!
As serious as this issue sounds, the authorities which handle domain registrations are very reasonable when it comes down to re-establishing ownership of a domain. Each domain extension is controlled by an authoritative body – http://nominet.org handles .uk domains and the popular TLDs (Top Level Domains such as .com, .info, .org etc) are overseen by http://icann.org.
Nominet Renewal Procedure
For .co.uk and .org.uk domains, even if the registration expires the domain is not automatically disabled. For roughly four weeks the domain will remain active and email and web services will continue uninterrupted. After this period, the domain status will be changed to ‘Suspended’. It is normally at this point that people notice their domains have expired. The domain will remain suspended until either 92 or 99 days after the initial expiration date. On either of these days at a randomly generated time, the domain will be released back into circulation.
It is possible to renew a domain name with Nominet at any point of the suspension – even on the 99th day you can still re-establish control.
ICANN Renewal Procedure
The procedure for renewing .coms and other global TLDs is very different. A lot of domain registrar companies will allow you to renew your expired domain with them for no additional cost, as long as you do so with two to three weeks. After this point, a renewal fee is usually introduced – this can vary from £30-£100 depending on the registrar. If the domain owner does not attempt to renew, it is not uncommon for registrars to attempt to auction off domains for profit. Registrar auctions mostly take place 4-5 weeks after the domain expiration date. If the domain is still not renewed at this point, it is passed back to ICANN with a status of ‘Registry Redemption’.
Once a domain name is in the Registry Redemption period, the original owner has 30 days to re-register it through ICANN, but this will mean additional fees of at least £30. After 30 days, the domain will enter a 5 day period where it cannot be recovered. Following this it will be deleted and made available for registration, 75 days after it initially expired.
As you can see it is currently a lot easier to recover an expired .co.uk than a .com. However, Nominet are currently discussing the adoption of a system similar to ICANNs, so this situation may change soon. Next week we’ll be looking at what to do if your domain name (or variations of it) are registered by third parties.