When you “buy” a domain name, all you are really doing is renting it for an agreed period, usually one year. You pay a small fee (around 10-15€ annually) to use the domain name until it comes up for renewal again. You can normally choose to set your domain to auto-renew, so that you never lose it.
This way, your saved credit card details are used to seamlessly extend your domain reservation for another year and you need take no action. If auto-renewal isn’t possible, or you didn’t opt for it, then you will simply be notified ahead of time that the renewal date is coming up, and encouraged to renew manually.
The company you “buy” the domain name from is an internet domain registrar. Registrars are legally obliged to contact domain owners 1 month before the expiry date, then 5 days before, and then 5 days afterwards. (If for whatever reason they do not, they’re breaking the law and you have the right to submit a complaint to ICANN – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
Of course, the onus is on you to ensure that your domain registrar is able to communicate with you. If they have an old email address, it’s not their fault that they cannot send you reminders…
So what happens if I miss the deadline?
So, your domain name’s renewal date came and went, and it wasn’t set to auto renew. The first thing that happens is that your website disappears! A domain name is an address: remove the address and browsers cannot find your site any more. If you had a domain name email address, you would equally lose access to your inbox and all your emails.
What’s worse, unless you manage to get your domain name back, you’ve also lost all the traffic and reputation your website had built up over the years. For a business, it’s a total nightmare situation.
The next stage depends on your registrar, as each tend to have different rules. Typically though, they will grant a “grace period” of around a month, during which time it should still be possible for you to renew the domain name at the standard fee. There’s no guarantee though: sometimes there’s no grace period at all.
The Redemption Period
Once the grace period passes, things can really get expensive. Your domain registrar will now file a cancellation request with ICANN – essentially telling them that the previous domain registration is now null and void. Your domain then enters the dreaded Redemption Period.
The good news is that it’s still possible for you to renew a domain in redemption. The bad news is that there are hefty penalty fees to do so – normally in the region of 150-200€. This period lasts 30 days, and after that time, your domain name will once again be released to the public and anyone can grab it.
You might be lucky at this point and be able to nab it back before anyone else. But this doesn’t always go as planned. There is a shady practise known as domain squatting. The idea is to reserve domain names associated with well-known brands or celebrities to then offer them for resale at exhorbitant prices.
The targets are often giant companies like Microsoft or Coca Cola, but certain squatters specialise in snapping up a domain name the instant it comes out of the Redemption Period and hijacking it, demanding hundreds of euros of its previous owner. If that happens to you, you may as well kiss goodbye to your domain – unless you’re prepared to pay the ransom.
The easiest thing: leave it to us!
We manage hundreds of domain names for our clients, taking care of the renewals on their behalf. If you’d want to transfer a domain to us contact us today. Let us take the hassle out of managing your domain name.