Crystal clear: domain drop catching

01 January 2018

There are different methods to obtain a domain name. One of them is domain drop catching – registering a domain name once its registration has expired. How does it work and where lies the danger for you? 

Domain drop catching 

Domain drop catching is a strategy of acquiring a domain name whose registration was not renewed, immediately after the expiry date. Typically a drop catcher will then sell the domain name to the highest bidder. However, sometimes companies provide drop catching services for their customers and acquire a domain on their request.

Drop catching usually entails taking advantage of the fact that a registrant forgot to renew his registration. Usually, the registrar, the company where you have registered your domain name, will remind you in good time that the expiry date is approaching. But if the contact details are missing or insufficient, he may not be able to reach you...

Tip: check with your registrar whether your contact details are up-to-date, to avoid missing a reminder about your registration!

A day too late, domain name lost?

Unfortunately, the fact is that you do not have a perpetual right to a domain name. When the payment term for the registration fee has expired, you can no longer lay claim to the domain name – unless the domain name is a registered trademark or protected in another way.

Nevertheless, most TLDs have a procedure that protects you as a registrant when you pay the registration fees a few days late:

  • for .be, if the domaine name is not renewed, a quarantine period of 40 days starts in which the domain name won't function but can still be reactivated
  • for the gTLDs ICANN worked out  a Redemption Grace Period and Pending delete. For  .vlaanderen and .brussels that is:
    • a period of 30 days during which you can still extend the registration period of your domain
    • a period of 5 days that commences when you did not renew the registration during the Redemption Period either.

Note: Some operators of top level domains, such as .no, .ac and others, also offer the possibility of placing a back order for a domain name. Under this system, you are assured to be the first to register the domain name when it becomes available. You must then pay a fee for the back order which, like the actual registration, has to be renewed after a certain period.

Drop catching: a fully-fledged business

You get the picture: domain drop catching can be very lucrative, and a fully-fledged business has emerged around it. Some drop catchers try to buy up all interesting names when they expire. This practice is known as ‘domain warehousing'. You can go shopping for a suitable domain name in their domain name warehouse, as it were.