How do I register an expired domain name?
March 2, 2005 6:17 PM   Subscribe

How do I register an expired domain name?

I want to register a domain name, so I did a WHOIS search and discovered that the domain expired about two weeks ago. Entering the address yeilds a 404 and there were faint remnants of a tiny site in a Google cache. So I'm pretty sure the domain was registered for a gag, or on a whim, and forgotten.

Unfortunately, because a WHOIS record exists, even one saying the expiration date is (was) last month, trying to enter the domain in any registration service says the domain is already taken.

I really don't want to pay the ridiculous sums of money any of those "monitoring" services charge- is there a simple, cheap method of resolving this?
posted by XQUZYPHYR to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
If you get a 404 error, that means the address is resolving and the domain is still active.

As for domains that have expired but haven't been released by the registrar yet, you just have to wait for the registrar in question to let them go I'm afraid.
posted by fvw at 6:38 PM on March 2, 2005

Each registrar has a different grace period on expired domains, and they are required to publish it. Google for "deletion policy" for their registrar to find the relevant one in this case. As an example, for Network Solutions, it is 35 days after expiration.
posted by smackfu at 6:53 PM on March 2, 2005

you just have to wait for the registrar in question to let them go

And sometimes, they just won't let them go. For example, five or so years ago, I was working on a central website for non-profit organizations around the Athens, GA area. The perfect domain name would have been -- but it was owned by the city government of Athens, Alabama. It turns out they weren't using it, but they couldn't find anyone with authority to sell or transfer the domain to me. I put it on backorder with Network Solutions, but when it expired they just held on to it. I didn't understand why until I started seeing spam regarding the Athens, Greece Olympics. Sure enough, network Solutions ended up selling it for gonzo bucks to a Korean firm, who used it for olympics-related junk. It's still in their hands.

So, good luck to you. Your success depends entirely on the registrar and the popularity of the domain name.

One thing to try: contact the previous owner and see if it truly is abandoned. They may be able to renew the registration and then transfer it to you, taking the registrar out of the process altogether.
posted by ewagoner at 6:58 PM on March 2, 2005

It is my understanding that all registrars, at least for .com, .net, etc, have to allow the expired domain to be re-registered by the registrant for 60 days. Until the 60 days pass you cannot get it. That might be wrong but that's my understanding.
posted by pwb503 at 7:38 PM on March 2, 2005

The standard expiration cycle goes something like this:

1. Domain expires. The owner of the domain is given a period of time in which to renew it, generally 30 days, but can be as many as 45.

2. Domain goes into "Redemption Period". The owner can still renew the name at this point, but it'll cost them. The redemption period can last anywhere between 1 and 35 days.

3. Pending Delete. At this point, the owner's pretty much out of luck, and the domain name will be available after 6 days.

Some registrars don't follow this exactly, though. There are registrars that give priority to users who backorder the name through them, registrars who hold on to names for longer periods of time, etc. As soon as the name goes out of "pending delete" status, it's first come first serve. Backorder services are useful in this respect as they will automatically monitor the domain name for you and attempt to order it as soon as it's available. You can monitor the domain yourself and hope you can snatch it up before someone else does, but it's a crapshoot.

I used GoDaddy when I was trying to get my current domain name - they charged a lot less ($18.95, including registration) than most of the backorder services I saw. Of course, backordering isn't a guarantee either; the first domain I tried to get was snapped up by a reseller who was quicker on the draw. Ironically, it was a much less desirable name than the one I did successfully backorder, but the second time was the charm.

I'd suggest finding out who is the current registrar for the domain name you're interested in and taking a look at their expiration policies. That'll give you an idea of how much longer you have to wait and whether they have their own backorder service, and based on that information you can decide how best to proceed. Good luck!
posted by Aster at 9:07 PM on March 2, 2005

Aster has it pretty close to dead on with the exception of the time frames:

Redemption Grace Period is always 30 days. The only exception to this is domains registered through eNom and their resellers. Domains enter an "extended" grace period because eNom essentially re-registers them.

The "expiration" period can be 1 to 45 days depending on registrar.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:43 PM on March 2, 2005

I was wondering if there was a "grace period" policy, but I figured that it didn't exist. I was always under the assumption that you had until the expiration date, and that was it.

I'll take a look at that GoDaddy place, it seems like the best bet. I'd be willing to risk $20 for the domain. Thanks!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:56 AM on March 3, 2005

($18.95, including registration)

I'd be willing to risk $20 for the domain.

Your risk is lower than that. Unless their policy has changed since the last time I did a backorder with them, the backorder is transferrable to any name until you've finally sucessful at snagging a domain. So really you're paying just registration + $10 backorder fee = $18.95
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:24 PM on March 3, 2005

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