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About Lost Domain Names

When a domain name is registered, the registrant acquires the right to use, renew, restore, or transfer the domain name. When the registrant no longer has those rights or someone else registers the domain name, the prior registrant may consider it a "lost domain name."

To see if a domain name is registered and to find its registrant, you can perform a WHOIS search at

ICANN does not have the ability or authority to transfer or return a domain name to anyone. ICANN's authority is purely contractual and is limited to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), the Registry Agreements (RA), and ICANN's Consensus Policies.

Lost Domain Names: Common Scenarios

If your domain name has expired and no one else has registered it, you should contact your registrar immediately to discuss what options are available for renewing your domain name. Domain names are subject to being released for registration at the end of the life cycle of the domain name.

  • If you are interested in registering an expired domain name, contact an ICANN-accredited registrar. Domain names are generally registered on a first-come, first-served basis. For a list of registrars, see ICANN-Accredited Registrars.
  • For more information, see Domain Renewal/Redemption.

If your domain name was transferred to another registrar without your permission and the domain name is no longer under your management, an unauthorized transfer may have occurred. Unauthorized transfers may result from illegal activity, including domain hijacking or unauthorized access to your email account or other login credentials. ICANN's contractual authority does not include investigating or prosecuting illegal activity. You should contact the previous registrar immediately and request that it review the unauthorized transfer claim.

  • In some cases the registrars might decide to reverse an unauthorized transfer, however this will be based on the circumstances and applicable law; ICANN cannot directly instruct them to do so.
  • For more information, see Unauthorized Transfers and Changes of Registrant.

If the WHOIS information for your domain name was modified without your permission, you should contact the registrar immediately because someone may have accessed your customer account without authorization. ICANN does not have the ability or authority to make changes to the WHOIS information for any domain name.

If your domain name was deleted, canceled, or terminated pursuant to the registrar's Registration Agreement or Domain Use Policy, check the registrar's website and the terms of your registration agreement to see whether the registrar's practice is consistent with its domain use (or anti-abuse) policy. If you believe the registrar might have breached its registration agreement with you or might have violated any applicable laws or regulations, you should try to resolve your concern with the registrar and consider seeking legal advice about your options.

If your domain name was suspended or deleted for not responding to a registrar's WHOIS inquiry, contact your registrar (or its reseller, if applicable) and provide updated and accurate WHOIS information. The WHOIS Accuracy Program Specification of the 2013 RAA requires all ICANN-accredited registrars to take specific actions when a registrant does not respond within 15 days to a registrar's inquiries regarding the accuracy of WHOIS data. These actions include terminating or suspending the domain name, or placing a lock on the domain name until the registrar is able to verify or correct the WHOIS data.

If the recommendations above are unsuccessful or not applicable and the domain name is now registered to someone else, you should consider seeking legal advice about your options, which may include the following:

  • Work out an agreement with the current registrant.
  • Wait and see if the current registrant lets the domain name expire.
  • File a lawsuit in the appropriate court against the current registrant if you believe the domain name was obtained unlawfully.
  • In limited circumstances involving infringement of trademarks, begin an administrative proceeding under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) or file a complaint under the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS). For more information, see Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy and Uniform Rapid Suspension.
Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."