What to do when a website domain expires?

You’ve got your coffee and you’re ready to work. You open your computer and try to open your email but there’s no new messages. “That’s strange?” you say to yourself. “I usually always have at least a few new emails every morning!” So you fire up your web browser to see if your internet connection is working.

You navigate to your business website and see a ‘404 site not found’ message. This is usually when we see clients start to panic and we get the “My website’s down and my email isn’t working” phone call.

90% of the time when this occurs it’s because your domain name has lapsed and it’s expired, but fear not – there are things you can do to ensure this doesn’t happen.

How to avoid having my domain name expire

Update your contact details

The easiest way to make sure your domain name doesn’t expire is always up, running and paid for is to make sure your contact details at your domain registrar is up to date. Often we see clients who register domain names with a hotmail or bigpond email address, then they let that email address die.

Then the domain company sends registration emails to their dead email address so it’s no surprise when it comes time to re-register the domain name, nothing happens and the domain name lapses.

How to check who your domain registrar is

If you need to see who your domain name is registered through, simply go to http://whois.domaintools.com/ and type in your domain name and under the field ‘Registrar Name’ it will tell you who your domain is registered through.

Update your credit card details

Often it’s not a contact issue that domain companies have with their customers, it’s a payment issue. If you’ve paid for your domain name with a credit card, you have the option to have the domain name registration company keep your credit card details on file for automatic re-registration of domains. If your credit card has expired or you’ve cancelled it, the domain company can’t use it for payment and your domain name could lapse.

What to do if your domain name expires

If you’ve found that indeed your domain name has lapsed – don’t fret, particularly if you have a .com.au as many domain registrars will give you a 30 day grace period to re-register your domain name.

If you’re interested in finding out more, AUDA is the regulatory body that looks after domain names in Australia and their guidelines state:-

The following procedure applies in the case of domain names that are not renewed on or before the expiry date:

a) domain name is removed from the DNS (ie. no longer works on the Internet);
b) domain name enters “serverUpdateProhibited” and “serverHold” status for 14 calendar days;
c) domain name can be renewed whilst in “serverUpdateProhibited” and “serverHold” status;
d) after 14 calendar days, domain name enters “pending Delete” status and cannot be renewed;
e) domain name is randomly dropped within the next 7 calendar days and becomes available for registration.

What happens if your domain name expires and another person registers it?

If you’ve found that your domain name has lapsed and another person has registered it, there are a couple of courses of action you can take.

Lodge a complaint

You can lodge a complaint with AUDA (the regulatory body that manages domain names) however you will need to make sure you meet the eligibility criteria.

Make an offer

If another company has registered your domain name and you haven’t been able to get it back through AUDA, it might be time to make an offer for the domain name to the person who registered it. But be warned, this has happened to a client before and the person who registered it was unscrupulous and wanted $5,000 for my customer to get his domain name back.

Register a similar domain name

As mentioned above, if someone manages to snap up your domain name, they may see it as an opportunity to make some quick cash. If the price they’re asking for is too high, you have the option of registering a different extension (.net.au, .co, .io for example) or find a domain name that’s similar. In the example above this client was a restaurant and the domain was their business name, so they simply registered their business name with ‘restaurant’ tacked on to the end of the domain name.

The Final Word

The most simple and effective way to make sure your domain names don’t expire accidently is to make sure your contact details are up to date with your domain registrar and if you have domain names registered through multiple companies, amalgamate them into the one account with a single company. This will make management, updates and re-registrations much much easier in the future.