Domain name life cycle

Overview of process

Most domain names follow the same general life cycle, with some small differences. Briefly, when not renewed following their standard ACTIVE term, a domain will enter the REGISTRAR-HOLD period for around 30 days, and then the REDEMPTION PERIOD for another 30 days. During this time, the current owner of the name can renew the name, often with increased costs. Third-parties are unable to take control of the name during these stages.

Following the redemption period, a domain will enter a PENDING DELETE or PENDING DELETE RESTORABLE state, where the owner can no longer renew the name. This stage lasts for another 30 days, followed by a 5 day period during which the domain name is scheduled for deletion, and dropped by the registrar. At this point the domain name becomes open to public registration. Services exist to catch the domain name at this stage.

In general, most domain name types will take around 95 days to expire and become publicly available. domain names, managed by Nominet, expire after either 92 or 99 days, while some other domain name extensions also vary.


The ACTIVE status is the normal state for a domain name to be in, when it is appropriately renewed. WHOIS records may take up to 48 hours to display a record for a new domain name, despite the registration being in place. Domain registration time scales can vary, with options with some domain names for registering domain names for ten years at a time.

As standard, domain names are registered for two years at a time.


Once a domain name expires, it's status will change from ACTIVE to REGISTRAR-HOLD or CLIENTHOLD. During this time, the associated website will become unavailable, and the registrar will attempt to contact the owner. At this stage, only the current owner can renew the domain name, and it is not publicly available for registration. Once in this stage, the domain name cannot be transferred to an alternative domain name registrar.

This stage lasts around 30 days, but may take as long as 45 days, depending on the registrar.


 If not renewed during the REGISTRAR-HOLD stage, the domain name will enter the REDEMPTION PERIOD. During this similar stage, the owner can renew the name, often at increased cost. This period also lasts around 30 days.


Following the REDEMPTION PERIOD, if not renewed, a domain name will enter the PENDING DELETE stage. During this five or six day stage, the domain name cannot be renewed by the owner. Following this, the domain name will once again become public.


Applies to .info and .org domain names.

Following the REGISTRAR-HOLD state, a .info or .org domain name will enter a PENDING DELETE RESTORABLE period, during which the owner may renew the name. This is equal to the REDEMPTION PERIOD applied to .com and other domain names.


Applies to .info and .org domain names.

The PENDING DELETE SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE state is applied to .info and .org domain names, following the PENDING DELETE RESTORABLE stage. At this point, the domain name cannot be renewed by the owner, and will be dropped from the registrar within five days.

Aftermarket domain names

If you're looking to acquire a second-hand domain name, take a look at my guide to aftermarket domain names. This includes information on buying at auction and dropcatching.


Last updated on 09 July 2010, at 13:43.