Help! My Domain Name Has Expired!
Bad news: You received a message that your domain name has expired.
The unique web address that your customers, colleagues and competitors associate with you is now no longer yours. All services attached to your domain name have most likely ceased to function, including your website and email.
An expired domain name can significantly disrupt your business and damage your brand. Depending on the registrar you use, you may also have permanently lost your domain name, which exposes your business to fraud and security risks. A new owner can register your expired domain and gain potential access to sensitive data, including valuable passwords and financial information contained in emails that are sent to addresses associated with your old domain.
There are still steps you can take to mitigate the situation. Here's how.
What to Do When Your Domain Name Has Expired
First, contact your registrar and verify their terms of service. There are two likely scenarios that will determine what you do next.
One possibility is that your registrar immediately deletes expired domain names. You will then have a 30-day Redemption Grace Period from the date of expiration to restore your domain. Keep in mind that there's often a fee involved in the restoration process.
If you fail to restore your domain name during the grace period, the registry operator will delete it and you won't be able to recover it. Your domain name can then be registered by any third party.
The second scenario involves an Auto Renew Grace Period during which the system renews your registration for one to 45 days. In this scenario, you must still renew your domain name within the grace period and pay any fees associated with the renewal.
If you don't renew your domain name registration during the specific calendar window, the registrar can delete your domain name, auction it to third parties, or add it to their own portfolio.
If you decide that you want to switch to a new registrar that offers better terms of service for your business, confirm that you can complete the transfer well before your domain name expires. You don't want to pay extra fees that could occur if the transfer takes place during your previous registrar's Auto Renew Grace Period, thereby forcing you to pay the fee for the grace period, as well as the registration fee to your new registrar.
Be aware that not all top-level domains (TLDs) come with a grace period and a redemption period and that some have a different grace period length. If you are using a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) there may be different regulations and time frames than stated above so it's best to check with your registrar when registering.
How to Prevent Your Domain From Expiring
While you can try to recover your domain name after it has expired, the simpler and safer solution is to be proactive and ensure that your domain name doesn't become unavailable in the first place.
Make sure you thoroughly understand your registrar's terms of service. If you've forgotten who your registrar is, you can look it up here.
Review the contact information you've provided and make sure it's up to date: You don't want to miss any notifications about changes in service.
Mark your calendar with the expiration date so you can renew in advance. Many registrars also offer auto-renewal options, but if you enroll in an auto-renewal plan, you must keep your payment information current.
Consider registering your domain for multiple years. You'll save yourself an annual chore that comes with serious consequences if you forget to renew in time.
While it's required for registrars to send two renewal reminders — usually one month and one week before your domain name expires — don't rely on these prompts.
When it comes to your domain name registrations, don't delay. Remember that an expired domain name carries with it real risk, including the potential suspension of web and email service, and lasting damage to the reputation of your brand.
Take the necessary, straightforward steps to protect your domain name and avoid a critical disruption in the life of your business and brand.