As someone who often scans and registers expired domains, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked one up only to have someone email me and say “I used to own that domain and forgot to renew it. How can I get it back?” In fact, if you’ve come across this post then there’s a fair chance that you (or someone you know) has had this happen to them. It’s more common than you may think and unfortunately, some of you may have already tried different options in order to try and reclaim it, only without any success. Trust me, it isn’t easy sometimes! Whether the domain was short, premium, an exact match, or brandable – It’s extremely important for every business owner to take the proper precautions so they never allow their domain name to be lost, stolen, or expired. If it has happened to you then don’t give up just yet! There are still some steps you can take to try and reclaim that lost domain. Of course, there’s never a guarantee and it might cost you some extra money. However, just because you forgot to renew it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to own it again!
Identify, locate and contact the new owner – The very first thing you need to do is locate the new owner and attempt to contact them. Use a website like Who.is to look the domain up and see what contact information is provided. If the new owner did not purchase WhoIs Privacy then their name and email address should be visible here. Use that information to send them an email and see if you get a response. Even if the domain does have privacy enabled, some privacy services will still forward your email to the owner. It doesn’t hurt to try, so always perform a whois lookup and send an email to whatever is listed under the whois. One important thing to keep in mind is how you will approach the new owner. It’s not uncommon for domain investors to get emails from people with a sob story trying to steal a domain for next to nothing. Be honest with the new owner, explain the situation behind how you lost the domain and why you are trying to get it back. Domain investors understand things happen and many of them have good hearts inside. You may think they were crummy because they “snatched” your domain up. But the fact is, most will be reasonable with you if they can tell you’re being honest and sincere with them.
Contact the domain registrar or participate in the expired auction – If your domain just expired then you may still be able to get it back in an auction at your registrar. Most domain registrars will auction off expired domains and that gives anyone a chance to pick it up without the name ever actually dropping away from them. If your domain expired less than 20 days ago then I recommend contacting your domain registrar and explaining the situation to them. Ask them what your options are for reclaiming the domain you forgot to renew and you may find you’re able to get it back directly from them. Keep in mind, if it’s been too long you might have to pay more than the annual renewal rate to get the name back from a registrar. It could cost as much as $100 or $200 after the 15-day mark. If the name has already gone to auction at your registrar, then you’ll have to participate in the auction and win in order to get the name back successfully.
Try a broker or backordering service – Some domain registrars allow you to submit backorder requests with them. Upon doing so whenever your desired name does become available for new registration, they’ll try and register it for you automatically. The downside to this is that you’ll be stuck waiting at least one year for the domain to potentially expire again. Backorder services aren’t cheap, but if the name you want is expired and will be available in the near future places like DropCatch and NameJet are worth using. If your domain was just recently lost then you can also hire a broker to try and reach out to the owner and get it back for you. Websites like Sedo and Afternic offer brokering services, but they aren’t cheap. Also, hiring a broker doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to get the name back. However, it is another avenue and if the domain that dropped is premium then you most likely will need a broker in order to complete a buy back purchase.