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What happens when my domain name expires?

Some people go into blind panic when they realise their domain name expired, but it’s usually quite easily resolved.  Take a deep breath, act quickly, and you can usually recover it.

Reasons domain names expire

There are many reasons a domain might expire, here are the most common reasons:

  • Auto-renew is not en-abled in domain control panel with domain registrar.
  • Renewal reminder notifications not turned on
  • The bank card in your domain control account is expired
  • Ignoring reminder emails or emails going into spam / junk
  • The account reminders email is the same as the domain, so no emails are being received
  • Waiting too long to renew so grace period has expired
  • The person whose email the address is used to register the domain, has left a company
Table of Contents

Can I recover my expired domain name?

Firstly, note that you never own a domain, you rent a domain for a period of time. Most domain names can be registered for a period from 1 to 10 years, with 10 years being the longest period it can be registered. Each domain name has its own registration and expiration date. After this period, the domain expires.

Even though most companies would like to own their domain name, or register it for longer than allowed, it’s not a bad thing that domains have an expiration date. If domain names didn’t need re-registering periodically, all the people who grabbed all the good domain names back when the internet was in its infancy, would leave us with very few options.

When a domain name expires, it becomes inactive immediately and all the services attached to it cease to function, that includes the website and email addresses  (unless you have a grace period for renewal, explained below).

You’ll receive multiple warnings from the company you registered the domain with, alerting you to any up-and-coming domain name expiration. Always make sure you monitor the email address used in your domain registrar account, and preferably use an email address not associated with the domain. If your email address is out of date, make sure you update it as soon as possible.

But don’t panic if you accidentally let your domain name expire, you may still  have a grace period to renew it again without an additional fee depending on the top-level domain.

Most domain name extensions (e.g. .co.uk and .com) follow the same rules, but sometimes individual registries set different rules. We’ll only cover UK and .COM domains in this article, so you will need to consult your domain registrar if you are unsure of the process for your expired domain.

How to renew an expired UK domain name

You have 90 days to renew a UK domain name before it is released for purchase by the public. You need to act quickly, but during these 90 days you will not lose your domain.

UK domains. like .co.uk, .uk, .org.uk etc. , will continue to work up to 30 days after the expiry date. This means, the website and email services will function during this period. If you do not renew within 30 days of expiry, the domain will be suspended by the UK Domain Registry (Nominet).

You can, however, renew UK domains up to 90 days after it expires without any redemption fee. If the domain is not renewed after 90 days, it will be cancelled and all associated services will cease to function. During the 90-day period you will receive regular emails from Nominet / your domain registrar, inviting you to renew your domain, therefore make sure your email address is correct and monitored.

If you do not renew your domain name then it is cancelled 90 days after the expiry date, and it is released for registration on a first come, first served basis.

How to renew an expired .com domain name

A Top Level Domain (TLD) includes domain names that end with .com  .net  .org  .biz.

If you have a (TLD) like a .com, .net, .org, etc. then the process is slightly different if your domain name has expired.

When the domain expires,  the Registrant’s rights lapse. The domain will also cease to work (i.e., point to a website or run email services).

1-45 days after expiration:

Depending on the domain registrar, domains will be kept in expired state for 1-45 days, with most registrars choosing between 28 and 45 days.

At this stage, there is no redemption fee, and the only charge is the cost of renewing the domain for however many years you decide.

Redemption Grace Period (30 additional days)

If the domain has still not been renewed after the previous expired stage (which can vary between registrars), it moves to the Redemption Grace Period (RGP). This will be for 30 additional days. ICANN control the length of this period. When a domain name falls into the RGP period, it becomes much more expensive to renew. After this period the domain cannot be renewed, and it will be re-released for registration on a first come, first served basis approximately 75 to 80 days following expiry.

Consequences of letting your domain expire

When you let your domain name expire, either accidentally or deliberately, you not only lose your website but any services connected to it. Consider some of these consequences of letting your domain name expire:

Loss of brand reputation

It’s not uncommon for a business to have multiple domain names registered. Proper domain management procedures are essential with a large portfolio of domains.

If you let your domain expire, emails will no longer work, customer accounts will be inaccessible, your website will be down. Not only is it inconvenient and even worrying for customers, they will also will lose trust.

Security Consequences

When a domain name has expired or is close to expiring, it will appear on a domain name “dropped list” (e.g. expireddomains.net). Cyber criminals can immediately re-register your domain name. Once they have control of your old domain name, they can impersonate you or your company:

  • They can set up email addresses or even a “catch-all” email to  capture all mail coming to the domain. If you have customers or suppliers continuing to use those addresses, sensitive information can be harvested.
  • Cyber criminals could send out mass emails from your old domain. These emails could be  fraudulent requests or malware attachments, for example.
  • Your social media presence could also be compromised. If the imposter guesses the email address associated with an account, they could reset passwords and take control of  your social media profiles.
  • They could set up a website imitating your old site. They can then gather information even worse, harvest credit card details from unsuspecting customers.

Loss of money

Website downtime causes  additional expense on customer service, and even  loss of sales. Many companies can also end up having to pay thousands to regain ownership of their expired domain name.

Don't let your domain name expire

The consequences of letting your domain name expire are wide-ranging. From damaged brand reputation, to loss of money, to cyber criminals and security issues. Make sure you make use of auto-renew features and proper domain management if you have multiple domains. Go check your domain name settings now!

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