Domain Drops and the Process

Some questions we are often asked at auDA include, “My domain name has expired what do I do?” or, “A domain name is due to expire soon and I want to register it, how can I do this?”

As part of our new ‘FAQ’ series on the auDA blog, the following piece aims to answer these questions by providing information on: the domain name expiry process, how and why domain names are deleted, The Official Domain Drop List and what you need to know about domain drop catchers.

 

The Official Domain Drop List:
The Official Domain Drop List  went live in April 2010 as an outcome of a policy review on the Domain Renewal, Expiry and Deletion Policy in late 2009. The list is updated daily and includes the exact date and time when deleted or expired domain names will become eligible for purge from the registry.

Before the publication of The Official Domain Drop List, the public relied on information about when a domain name would be purged from the registry by their own calculations or unofficial drop lists that may not have been entirely accurate.

Also before the policy changes and the implementation of the drop list occurred, when a domain name was purged this happened at a random time during the purge day. The motivation behind this was to prevent people snapping up expired domain names however, it seemed that a random purge time mainly helped people or organisations with the technical expertise and processes in place to pick up these deleted names rather than ordinary members of the public.

The drop list is divided into two sections: expired domain names and deleted domain names.

 

Expired Domain Names:
As registrants are made aware when they initially purchase a .au domain name licence, exactly two calendar years after a domain name is registered it will become eligible for expiry. As further explained in the Domain Renewal, Expiry and Deletion Policy (2010-01), if a domain name is not renewed during the renewal period (the period from 90 calendar days before expiry) it will transition from “Registered” to an “Expired Hold” state and cease to function. This means a website attached to the domain name will go offline and any email addresses associated with the name will cease to function.

This state will occur for 30 calendar days where registrants still have the opportunity to contact their registrar and renew the domain name. Failure to renew the name within this period will see the domain name transfer to “Expired Pending Purge” state. In this state a domain name can no longer be renewed, updated or transferred and will be published on The Official Domain Drop List. Exactly one calendar day after the domain name appears on the list it will become eligible for purge and be purged from the registry at the next cycle which occurs at 1.00pm (AEST) or 2.00pm (AEDT). The domain name will then become available for registration on a first come, first served basis.

 

Deleted Domain Names:
There are two reasons why a domain name is deleted and published on the Official Domain Drop List, either at the request of the registrant or at the request of auDA. Why a registrant deletes their domain name could be for any number of reasons but why auDA will delete a domain name is due to a breach of auDA policy. The deletion process differs depending on whether the domain name was deleted by the registrant or auDA.

When a domain name is deleted at the request of the registrant, the domain name will transition from a ‘Registered’ to ‘Pending Delete’ state at the time the deletion command is submitted by the registrar. At this time, the domain name will be published on the Official Domain Drop List for 3 calendar days after which it will be purged at the next drop cycle.

Domain names that are deleted due to a breach of an auDA Published Policy will transition from a “Registered” to a “Pending Policy Delete” state at the time the deletion command is submitted by the registrar. At this time, the domain name will be published on the Official Domain Drop List for 14 calendar days after which it will be purged at the next drop cycle.

Before attempting to register a domain name that appears on the deleted names section of the Official Domain Drop List, it is important to consider why the domain name was deleted. If the name was deleted by auDA then this would have been the result of a formal complaint being lodged against the previous registrant. In this case, whoever lodged the complaint may have some vested interest in the name and so to prevent having a successful complaint lodged against you for registering the same name, it is essential to assess whether you are in fact eligible for the name and are not in breach of any auDA policy.

 

Domain Drop Catchers:
When a domain name has expired or has been deleted and someone would like to pick up the name when it becomes available for registration, we recommend that a person or organisation employs the services of a domain drop catcher. A drop catching service allows a person to lodge a pre-application for a domain name before it is due to drop, and then uses a special software program to attempt to “catch” the domain name at the registry as soon as it drops.

Without the necessary knowledge or technology it can be quite difficult for the general public to pick up these names. While we don’t recommend one over another it is advisable to thoroughly research and decide who offers the best service in this area for yourself. It’s important to note that there is usually a fee for using a drop catching service, in addition to the domain name registration fee that you will be charged if the service is successful in catching your domain name. Another feature of many drop catching services is that, if more than one person is interested in a domain name, there will be an online auction and the highest bidder will win the right to be the sole applicant for the domain name through that particular drop catching service. It is important to note that while employing the services of a drop catcher improves your chances of picking up a domain name it does not guarantee it as there could be several domain catchers competing to pick up the same name that is about to be dropped.

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