How to recover an expired or repurchased domain name

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  • September 18, 2023
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A domain name represents your online identity. It is, in a way, the equivalent of your postal address on the Internet. It is therefore naturally essential when creating a website. But it cannot be purchased: it is its exclusive right of use which is allocated to you for a defined period. In France, this period can be for a renewable period of one to ten years, as desired, for domains in .fr, .re, .yt, .pm, .wf or .tf, specifies Afnicthe association which controls the validity of domain names.

However, it can happen that you forget to renew it, or look at a domain name whose use has already been reserved or assigned to another Internet user. In this article, we explain the steps to renew an expired domain name or to buy it back, according to the standards in force.

How to recover an expired domain name

The allocation of a domain name is based on the “first come, first served” principle. It is therefore important to think about its renewal before the expiration date, if this is not automated. This renewal is done at your registrar and is possible during a period of time preceding the expiry date, most often around thirty days. If you have not completed this renewal on time, you enter a “grace period”. This 5-day period allows the domain name holder alone to renew it, but the site and the services linked to it are no longer accessible.

After the 5-day grace period comes the “redemption period”. For 30 days, the domain name holder can request its restoration. Grace period and redemption often come with a higher renewal cost, with registrars (or registrars) often applying a surcharge. But they allow you to recover a domain name at the last minute. Because then, it enters a 3-day deletion wait phase, during which no action is possible. Once this period is over, the domain name becomes available again, the first come, first served rule once again applying.

How to buy a domain name

The repurchase of a domain name, at least of its right of use, can take place in several cases. For example, you want to create a website for your emerging brand, but after checking on Afnic Whois, you realize that the associated domain names have already been assigned. Or you simply forgot to renew your domain name and it was acquired by another user. It is nevertheless possible to buy it back. It is completely legal to do so in France, provided you respect the registration rules and pay attention to certain unethical practices.

Some specialized platforms offer the purchase and sale of domain names. These third-party services monitor expired domain names and attempt to acquire them for resale, often through an auction. Without going through these marketplaces, the reliability of which must be ensured, it is entirely possible to negotiate directly with the owner of the domain name that interests you. Once again, Afnic’s Whois can provide you with information on the identity and contact details of the holder to get in touch with them. The latter will then set his price, if he is inclined to sell, and you will thus be able to negotiate.

However, be wary of cybersquatting, this technique consisting of the intentional registration of domain names with the aim of subsequently reselling them to interested parties, at a high price. Once you have purchased your domain name, remember to transfer it to your registrar.

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