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How to Get an Expired Domain Name

So you have a website… but you need a domain name.  After searching on NameCheap you realize your favorite choices are not only already registered, but an expired domain.  Well, expiring technically.  That’s good news, at least you have a shot at getting it.  With a little persistence and some determination, this expiring domain can be yours within a month or two at most.

What happens to a domain after it expires?

After a domain expires, it goes through several phases before it becomes available for new registration:

  1. Grace Period: Immediately after expiration, the domain enters a grace period that typically lasts for 30 to 45 days, depending on the registrar. During this time, the original owner can renew the domain at the standard renewal rate.
  2. Redemption Period: Following the grace period, if the domain has not been renewed, it enters a redemption period. This period lasts about 30 days. Renewing the domain during this phase is still possible but involves higher fees.
  3. Pending Delete Phase: After the redemption period, if the domain is still not renewed, it enters the pending delete phase, which lasts about 5 to 7 days. During this time, the domain cannot be renewed or registered and is queued for deletion from the registrar’s database.
  4. Availability: Once the pending delete phase is complete, the domain becomes available for anyone to register on a first-come, first-served basis.

Steps to Acquire an Expired Domain Name

  1. Visit WhoIs.net and enter the URL of the expired or expiring domain name you want to register.
  2. If the expiration date listed has passed, then the domain is in the expiration process (estimated duration of this period is approximately 75 days)
  3. Now, visit SnapNames.com, Pool.com and NameJet.com
  4. Sign up for an account on each of the three websites
  5. Go to the search bar function on each site, and search for your targeted expired/expiring domain.
  6. Select the domain and add the domain(s) to your watch list (Snapnames, Pool and Namejet do not charge unless you actually acquiring the domain(s))
  7. Create a timeline, with the expiration at as the origin of the timeline.
  8. Log in to your account every 2 weeks or so to watch the domain’s expiration status (it can be redeemed by its owner during what is called the “grace period”
  9. After the expiration and grace period phase, the expired domain enters the deletion phase of the process.  This is where your prudence and determination with pay off.  Pay close attention to whether or not the domain goes to auction.
  10. Good luck!

The Domain Name Expiration Process

Domain names are quite a fascinating topic to talk about.  Without a doubt, the domain registration process is complex.  Even experienced Webmasters rarely know exactly how domain names are created; let alone the domain expiration process.  This post is to help shed some light on how the registration and expiration system works. Also to help you search, find and register that expired domain name you have been patiently waiting for.


How to Get an Expired Domain Name


I find it easiest to explain this technical process through simple metaphors.  Imagine, if you can, that a phone book is sitting in front of you.  A phone book looks like this, if you have forgotten.  Every business listing has two things, the business name and the address.  The phone book represents the infrastructure of what is called the Domain Name System (DNS) for the World Wide Web.  The business name represents the domain name, let’s use www.Yahoo.com as an example.  The business address represents the I.P. address of the web server.  The Domain Name System is what assigns human addresses (yahoo.com) to computer  server addresses.  This is what allows us to use the English (or any) language in order to visit a website.  The Domain Name System is administered today by the United States Department of Commerce.

How I Got an Expired Domain Name from Namecheap

When a .com domain name is registered with a registrar like Namecheap, they actually register the domain on your behalf.  You are not really purchasing the domain, but paying to allow a company to contract it for you for however long you want it registered.  Only authorized domain name registrars have the ability to do this.  Once you register your domain successfully, you now have to “point” the domain to your web server by enter the DNS nameservers.  This is what finally “instructs” the domain you registered to your web server’s IP address.

I highly suggest using a domain snagging website like pool.com, namejet.com and snapnames.com.  They have a more sophisticated system that watch the domain registry list much more efficiently than you can.  I have no real preference between the three, but I have used Pool successfully.  Pool offers a service that essentially allows you to pay a flat fee ~$65 and have them scour the domain name registry for expired domain names.  And once your targeted domain name is released back into the public, Pool grabs it immediately.  So the service is worth it, assuming your domain is worth it.

Good luck and if you have any questions on a particular situation you are facing with an expiring domain, feel free to contact me.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get back an expired domain?

Yes, it’s possible to reclaim an expired domain, but the process and success depend on how long the domain has been expired. Initially, the domain enters a grace period where you can renew it without much hassle, usually involving just the standard renewal fee. If you miss this window, the domain then moves to a redemption phase, during which retrieving it becomes more expensive due to additional fees. Act quickly to avoid losing it to another interested party once it goes to auction or becomes publicly available again.

Are expired domains worth it?

Purchasing expired domains can be a strategic move for businesses or individuals looking to benefit from established SEO rankings, traffic, and backlinks that a domain has accumulated. However, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research before buying to ensure the domain doesn’t have a negative history, such as being penalized by search engines or involved in spammy activities. While a good domain can offer a head start in your online presence, a bad one can mean unnecessary trouble and cleanup.

Why can’t you buy a domain name forever?

Domain registration operates on a lease basis to ensure responsible use and management. Perpetual ownership isn’t allowed to prevent individuals or entities from monopolizing domain names indefinitely, which could lead to a shortage of desirable domain names for new businesses and users. This system also facilitates the regular update and maintenance of domain registration information, ensuring it remains current and accurate.

Why can’t I register an expired domain?

Immediately registering an expired domain is often not possible due to several stages it goes through post-expiration. These stages include a grace period for the original owner to renew, a redemption period offering a last chance for renewal at a higher cost, and possibly a hold period by the registry. This process can take several months, during which the domain isn’t available to the public for registration. Understanding these timelines can help you plan your strategy for acquiring a desired expired domain.

How long does it take for an expired domain to become available?

The timeline for an expired domain to become available for new registration can vary widely, typically ranging from 30 to 75 days after expiration. This period encompasses the initial grace period, followed by a redemption phase, and possibly a pending delete phase, depending on the registrar’s and registry’s policies. Monitoring the specific domain and understanding these phases can help you estimate when it might become available.

How do I auto buy a domain when it expires?

To auto-buy an expired domain, place a backorder through a domain registrar or backordering service. Monitor the domain’s status and be ready to participate in auctions if the domain is in high demand. Consider using drop catching services to increase your chances of securing the domain as soon as it becomes available.

How long will GoDaddy hold an expired domain?

GoDaddy generally holds onto an expired domain for about 30 days in a renewal grace period, allowing the original owner to renew it without additional fees. Following this, there’s a redemption period of approximately 19 days, during which renewal is still possible but with added fees. The total period before a domain may be auctioned or returned to the public pool is around 49 days, but it’s wise to check directly with GoDaddy for the most current policies.

How do I buy an expired domain on GoDaddy?

To acquire an expired domain listed on GoDaddy, start by searching for it on the GoDaddy Auctions site. If found, you can either place a bid during an auction or purchase it directly if it’s available for a fixed price. Ensure your GoDaddy account is set up and funded appropriately to complete the transaction smoothly. Following a successful purchase, the domain will be transferred to your GoDaddy account, from where you can manage it.

What happens if I don’t renew my domain name with GoDaddy?

Failing to renew your domain name with GoDaddy triggers a series of steps starting with a grace period for renewal, followed by a redemption phase where recovery is still possible albeit with additional fees. If the domain remains unrenewed, GoDaddy may then auction it off. If there are no takers, it eventually gets released back into the domain pool for anyone to register. Losing a domain can mean losing a significant part of your online identity or business, so it’s crucial to renew on time or set up auto-renewal.

How do I unlock an expired domain on GoDaddy

Unlocking an expired domain on GoDaddy usually requires you to first renew the domain. If the domain is within the grace period, you can simply pay the renewal fee, after which you can manage its settings, including unlocking it. If the domain is in the redemption period, additional fees will apply. For assistance with renewing and unlocking the domain, especially if it’s in redemption or you’re facing issues, contacting GoDaddy’s customer support is your best course of action.

What will happen to my domain name after it expires?

After expiration, a domain goes through a grace period (30-45 days) where the original owner can renew it. If not renewed, it enters a redemption period (about 30 days) with higher renewal fees. Following this, the domain enters a pending delete phase (5-7 days) before being released for anyone to register.