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Need to recover an expired or expiring domain name?

Many thousands of domains are cancelled each day. Most of the best ones are pre-ordered through specialist domain catching services. If not they are available to register by anyone, but here again many are registered within seconds of release. How to know when a domain is going to be cancelled?

The Domain Name Life Cycle (for .com .net .info domains):

  1. Start by looking up the domain name in a WHOIS search. You can do this via Google (just search for whois cheapnames.com for example) or use the CheapNames Whois tool. If you have a Mac you can also do this direct from the Terminal application: just type whois cheapnames.com and hit enter.

    You will get results showing the registration details of the domain name, in particular the relevant dates: Updated Creation Expiry

    Updated Date: 2016-04-09T11:31:52Z
    Creation Date: 1998-10-14T04:00:00Z
    Registry Expiry Date: 2021-10-13T04:00:00Z

    together with information about the Registrar, Domain Status and Name Servers.

    The Domain Status record tells you about the status of your domain name: whether active or suspended. The Whois information comes from ICANN who provide information on the various Status Codes. In this case we have:

    Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited

    which means everything is OK and we can see that the expiry is a way off from the Registry Expiry Date above. Sometimes this will simply say 'ok'.

  2. Further information about the owner of the domain is held by the Registrar so we can see here the registrar name, their website address and the URL of their own WHOIS server.

    Registrar: CSL Computer Service Langenbach GmbH d/b/a joker.com
    Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.joker.com
    Registrar URL: http://www.joker.com

    So now if you visit the registrar website you will find a link to their Whois Server. Now search for the domain name again you will now see extra information about the domain name: in particlar the Registrant, Admin and Tech 'contacts' (from Terminal simply type whois -h whois.joker.com cheapnames.com using the whois server as listed in the first whois output - the spaces are important!).

    Sometimes domain name owners choose to hide their details by using a Privacy Service.

    Registry Registrant ID:
    Registrant Name: On behalf of cheapnames.com
    Registrant Organization: c/o IDPS International Domain Privacy Services GmbH
    ...

  3. A domain name is initially registered for 1-10 years. An active or "ok" status is indicated by clientTransferProhibited. Domain names sometimes cannot be transferred for the first 60 days after registration. The Whois output will usually look like this:

    Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited ...
    Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited ...
    Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited ...
    Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited ...

  4. If the domain name passes Registry Expiry Date without renewal and payment is overdue the registrar will update the status to clientHold or REGISTRAR-HOLD. This is known as the Grace Period and the domain can still usually be renewed. During the grace period the domain name is effectively owned by the registrar and may be sold on by some registrars at any time up to 45 days after entering this state.

  5. The domain will then usually enter the state redemptionPeriod when the registrar requests deletion of the domain at ICANN. Here's an example (the date at the time of writing is 2018-05-06):

    Updated Date: 2018-04-11T21:10:51Z
    Creation Date: 2007-02-28T06:45:28Z
    Registry Expiry Date: 2018-02-28T06:45:28Z
    Registrar: eNom, Inc.
    ...
    Domain Status: redemptionPeriod https://icann.org/epp#redemptionPeriod

    So in this case the domain name entered the redemption period on April 11, 41 days after the expiry date.

    Once activated this period lasts exactly 30 days from the Updated Date shown in Whois. During this time your domain can ONLY be recovered by paying a Redemption Fee and ONLY by your registrar who request this direct from ICANN. This is a premium sum usually around $80. At CheapNames you can do this in the Domain Control Centre - look under Expired Domains.

    Warning! The registrar is not obliged to delete the domain once the expiry date has passed and payment is overdue. The registrar can sell the domain at an auction, e.g. GoDaddy Auction, or even keep it for themselves. So do not wait for your domain name to reach this point.

  6. Counting from the Updated Date shown in WHOIS after 30 days the domain will enter pendingDelete for 5 days where it is queued for deletion before being released. It cannot be rescued AT ALL at this point and your only options are:

    1. Use a backorder or drop catch service to try to re-register your name the second it is made available again - if you are concerned someone else will register it before you.
    2. Take a chance that no-one will re-register it and simply wait for it to become available again.

    Warning!: Catching domain names as they are released is a very active business. If your name is valuable, has history, is short or is otherwise desirable do not let it expire! You do not have the right to claim a domain name even if you own a similar trademark or have other IPR.

    CheapNames Domain Alert® Pro monitoring and backorder service. You may also wish to use several companies to increase your chances of recovering the domain name.

Further information:
https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/expired-2013-05-03-en
https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/gtld-lifecycle-2012-02-25-en
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