So you’ve registered a domain name. It’s yours, right? Well, yes. But only for now. When you register a domain name, it’s only ever a temporary registration, that is, you’ve registered it for a finite period of time. Specifically, this period of time is between one and ten years. Once this registration period is up, if you want to keep your domain name, you can renew it.
We’re here to answer all your questions. This is everything you need to know about renewing your domain name.
Why do I need to renew my domain name?
Domain names cannot be registered in perpetuity. If they could be, it would be great for brands who want to be able to hold on to their brandname as a domain name forever, but it would be bad for just about everyone else, since it would mean that speculation on now-meaningless domain names would slowly eat up all the available domain names.
This issue aside, because domain names are managed and attributed by private companies, in order for these companies to turn a profit, they need some kind of recurring revenue. Renewal fees help to ensure the long-term viability of domain registries and registrars so that they, in turn, will keep the lights on and keep the system running.
If that’s too in the weeds, then just know that the short answer is because domain names expire, and without paying to renew them, they’ll become available again to whoever wants to register them. If you’re still using a domain name when it comes up for expiration, you’ll have to renew it to avoid that.
Can I renew my domain name indefinitely?
Yes and no. As we said above, technically you can’t register a domain name forever. ICANN and the domain name registries do not currently have any way to do this. Certain registrars have created a workaround to this, however: ask the end-consumer to pay a high fee for “forever” registrations. The registrar still needs to renew the domain name when it expires, they use do that quietly in the background.
That’s an important distinction because you cannot 100% guarantee that a particular registrar will be around forever and that policies won’t potentially change. If something were to happen that the registrar could not or would not honor your forever registration, you are likely entitled to a refund, but your domain will still have to be renewed.
Why is renewing your domain important? What happens if I don’t renew my domain name?
Renewing your domain name ensures the uninterrupted continuity of whatever services you have attached to it. By that, we primarily mean your website and your email address(es). At the baseline, renewing your domain name makes it possible to continue using these services without having to change any configuration or addresses.
On the flip side, if you don’t renew your domain name on time, the first thing that will happen will be that your domain name will be “suspended.” You’ll likely notice this because it will mean the services attached to your domain name will cease to function—your website will not load, and you will be unable to receive any new email.
Typically, after 45 days (depending on the TLD, aka the domain extension), the domain name is then “deleted,” which on a technical level means the domain is removed from the zone file. In most cases, this won’t have any practical effect on the services attached to your domain name (n.b. it may mean that some registrar-provided services associated with your domain name like email or DNS have also been terminated) beyond the impact they already had. At this point, though, if you want to renew your domain name, you’ll need to pay a much higher price.
Once your domain name has reached this point, you only have 30 days left to “restore” the domain (this is like a renewal, but after a domain has been deleted), before it is queued up to be fully deleted by the registry, which typically happens within 5 days of this final 30-day “grace period” ending.
Once the domain name is fully deleted, it can be registered again—whether by you or a third-party (though beware—there are many services specialized in snatching up expired domain names to sell for a higher price later).
How do I know when my domain should be renewed?
The good news is that before any of the negative consequences of not renewing your domain name kick in, you will have plenty of warning to renew your domain name.
Your registrar will send you various warnings about the expiration of your domain name prior to its eventual expiration.
The first of these is sent a full two months prior to the expiration of your domain name. The second is one month prior to the expiration of the domain name, then 15 days prior to the expiration of the domain name, then 7 days before the domain expires, then the day before the domain expires, and finally same day as the domain name expires. There is typically also one last reminder email sent the day after a domain name has already expired.
If you blow through or don’t notice these warnings, you’ll also be able to tell when your website or email stops working.
There are other ways you can tell if your domain name is expiring, though. The first would be in the WHOIS.
The WHOIS has lots of information about the registration details of domain names, and by searching for your domain name in the WHOIS database, among other information, you will also find the domain’s expiration date. To learn more, we invite you to watch our video tutorial on how to use WHOIS :
And lastly, you can check the expiration in your domain name dashboard at your registrar.
We highly recommend renewing your domain name as soon as you receive a notification your domain will expire soon, even if that’s two months out.
How can I avoid missing a domain renewal?
Of course, despite whatever precautions you might take and whatever warnings you might receive, you might not end up renewing your domain name on time. How can you avoid this?
Well, fortunately there’s a feature you can use for that—automatic renewal.
Automatic renewal is a feature you can activate on your domain names at most registrars that automatically renews your domain name when it comes up for expiration, automatically debiting your credit card or a prepaid account for the amount due.
This means so long as a valid means of payment is stored with your registrar, you’ll never miss a domain expiration so long as automatic renewal is activated.
BUT there may be some situations in which you will want to make sure to deactivate automatic renewal. One situation in particular is important to remember—if you ever want to get rid of your domain name.
The simplest way to delete a domain name that you no longer want is to not renew it. However, you can’t let it expire and be deleted “naturally” if automatic renewal is still activated.
Why does my domain renewal cost more than the registration?
When you go to renew your domain name, you might find that the cost is a bit more than you expected based on what you paid when you first registered your domain name.
There are a couple of reasons for why this might be the case.
The first is that you might have purchased your domain name as part of a promotion. Domain name registries and registrars will often provide promotional prices on the first year of a domain name registration.
This can sometimes cause some “sticker shock” when it comes time to renew.
The other reason why you might see higher prices when you go to renew your domain name is because it’s not actually expired, but beyond expired.
As we mentioned above, once your domain is expired for 45 days, it is technically removed and can no longer be “renewed,” it must be “restored.” This operation is intended as a sort of last-ditch way to save a domain name from being made publicly available for registration again.
A restoration also costs more than a renewal. Restoring a domain often costs upwards of a hundred dollars or more. This might also be a reason for “sticker shock” when you go to renew your domain name.
When can I renew my domain name?
While domain name renewal is often associated with domain name expiration, the two don’t have to be connected to one another.
You can actually renew a domain name at any point in time. You don’t have to wait until the domain name expires. That means if you’re going to be gone when your domain expires, or even if you just want to take the opportunity to ensure the longevity of your domain name, you can renew your domain name.
There are a couple of caveats you should be aware of, though.
First, your domain name can’t be renewed for more than the maximum registration period of 10 years. That means if you’re domain expires in 9 years, you can only renew it for 1 additional year.
Second, no matter when you renew your domain name, its expiration date will remain on the same date, only the year will be extended into the future by the number of years you renew your domain name.
That means that renewing your domain name before it expires will NOT move your domain name’s expiration date. Some domain name owners mistakenly believe that the expiration date will update to the date you renew your domain name, however this is not the case.
So, to sum up, domain names are not permanent. They can only be registered for a limited time period. This helps keep the domain name market from becoming too speculative. It helps make it more likely that when you need a domain name for your new idea, your desired domain name will be available.
But it also means that you can only register a domain name for a maximum of 10 years. Some register a domain for just the first year, sometimes at a discount, and then renew it in subsequent years. Others register their domains for many years at a time. Sometimes, domain owners find it surprising that the cost of their domain name renewal is significantly higher than what they paid for the first year. This could be for one of two reasons—either the domain name was on promotion when it was bought and now the renewal is for the regular, annual price, or the domain name has been expired for 45 days or more.
You can avoid this second possibility by understanding what happens when a domain name expires. When it expires, the domain will stop functioning and any website, email, or other service associated with it will no longer function. After the domain name expires, you have 45 days to renew it. After that, you can still get your domain name back by restoring it, but not everything might not be exactly what it was before since the domain name will have actually been removed from the domain name system after 45 days.
You then have an additional 30 days to restore your domain name before it’s definitively deleted.
You can avoid missing this expiration in one of two ways. First, there are notifications — 2 months, 1 month, 2 weeks, 1 week, and 1 day before the domain name expires, on the day it expires, and the day after it expires. If you receive one of these emails, navigate to your registrar’s website and renew your domain name right away—don’t delay so you don’t forget.
The other way is by activating automatic renewal on your domain. Just make sure that you have a valid credit card stored with your registrar or that you prepay money for this automatic renewal. And if you want to delete your domain name that you deactivate automatic renewal.
You can renew a domain name at any time, though doing so won’t affect the actual day of the year when it expires, it will extend the domain registration another year.
So that’s it! That’s everything you need to know about renewing a domain name.
And here is a bonus video tutorial to guide you through the renewal of your domain name at Gandi :