What happens to domain names once they have expired?

Buying a domain name doesn’t mean owning it forever. One person who registers a domain becomes its holder (not owner). If, at the end of the registration contract the holder wants to keep the domain he has to renew the subscription, just as if you would rent a car or a flat. If a domain isn’t renewed, it will then return into the nature and someone else will be able to catch it.

What happens exactly when a domain names comes to expiration?

Well to understand better what happens to a domain that will expire, it is important to know all the ins and outs of a domain’s registration. Here are the basics of what you should know:

The Registry

The registry is the organization that manages domain names for a specific top-level domain (TLD). For instance, AFNIC is the .FR registry, EURID manages the .EU…

The Registrar

The registrar is the organization allowed to register domain names. Thus, YouDot is a registrar accredited for several extensions, such as .FR, .DE, .EU, .ME, .UK, …

The reseller

It can be a person or a company (e.g a web or SEO agency, a domainer) who deals with the registrar in the client’s name.

The holder

It is the person or company that buys and “own” a domain name. Technically, you don’t really own a domain name, you just hold it during the registration period.

If we sum up, the holder buys a domain name from the reseller who contacts the registrar accredited by the registry of a TLD.

To purchase a domain name, a person must first find one from a reseller. Once the domain found and the payment done, all the rights of this domain are given to the holder for a defined amount of time.

Renouveler son NDD avant la date d'expiration

Renewing a Domain Name

When the registration period comes to its end, the domain names holder must renew it, in order to keep it. If some persons choose the automatic renewing solution, so they won’t have to bother about it, some other choose to do it manually, it is often because they don’t know for how long they will keep it.

If one person does not renew the domain, then several things will happen. These depends on the TLDs and registries. Here are the different steps that occur at the end of the validity of the domain name and its possible renewal:


Invitations to renew the domain name

The registrar or reseller from whom you registered your domain name is supposed to notify you several days before the end of the registration period: generally, one to two months’ minimum. Therefore, and in despite of all warnings and invitations to renew your domain name, you have decided to ignore them knowingly, your domain will expire. But what happens next?

The Grace Period

Even if your domain name has expired, you still have a chance to get it back. This grace period allows the former holder to assert his rights, in the event that he didn’t renew his domain, either from negligence or because he didn’t see the alert messages, or because the renewal of the payment has failed (change of card number or bank account).

Thus, at the expiration date of the domain name, the hosts and registrars grant a transition period during which the website becomes inaccessible, but it continues to exist and can be renewed by its holder. The duration of this period varies between 0 and 45 days depending on the host, the registrar and/or the extension of the domain name (.com, .eu, .net, etc …)

During this period, the holder is able to renew the domain name.


Rédemption period

As the Grace period, the domain is still renewable, but with an extra charge this time. This period if often shorter (from 0 to 30 days). It is at this stage that other people can put an option (or a bid) on the domain name to buy it. We then talk about backorder on a domain name.

Same as the Grace period, if there was a website that pointed to this domain name this one is offline.


The duration of this redemption period varies according to the registry: for the .FR it lasts 30 days. During this period, only the former holder has the possibility to take back the rights on the domain, and to become its holder again. It is then possible to restore the domain name. To note that for the .FR, we only talk about redemption period.

Tout comme lors de la période de grâce, s’il y avait un site web qui pointait sur ce nom de domaine celui-ci est hors-ligne.

The redemption period is the security period during which the request to delete a domain name is still reversible … During this period, no transmission or transfer transactions are possible and your domain name remains unavailable at the reservation, except for you if you change your mind.

Pending delete

This period lasts 5 days, during which the domain name is deleted. No hope to take any action, this stage is purely technical and is irreversible.

Typical life cycle of a domain name

From brand-new domain names to expired ones

To be or not to be: that is the question – William Shakexpire

If the domain names has been through all this different stages without any interferences from the former holder, then the ownership is considered as forever lost. It is no longer possible to claim any right of preemption, as the various deadlines and resorts are now ended. This means that the domain name is now available for someone else to purchase.

Here we come, we YouDot, by detecting the domain names now available or that are likely to be (see redemption period). Thus, domains are available for sale on our platform, in the form of backorders (i.e a pre-reservation on the domain if it is not recovered by its former holder, after the redemption period), auctions, or direct sales.