New domain expiry process and introduction of drop lists for .UK 

We are pleased to confirm the:

  • testbed release of the EPP changes to support the new .UK expiring domains process; and
  • production launch date for the new process.

Testbed release: 2022-06-14

Production release: 2022-09-13

Please note that in addition to lifecycle changes, there are some changes to EPP responses themselves.


New Lifecycle at expiry for .UK

Domains will:

  • no longer drop at random times.
  • drop at a specified time published in a daily drop list; the drop list will contain domains which have not been renewed from the point of suspension for non-renewal.
  • become available for re-registration by any registrar through the existing Web Domain Manager and EPP systems.

Expiring domain periods

PeriodWhen is it?Domain stateEPP <domain:check> unavailable reason
Expiry Grace PeriodFrom:
Expiry time

Expiry time + 30 days.
Fully operational.

Available to renew.
Redemption Grace PeriodFrom:
Expiry time + 30 days

Expiry time + 90 days.
RFC5731 pendingDelete status shown in <domain:info> commands.

Does not resolve.

Appears in daily drop lists with future potential drop date.

Available to renew.
Pending Delete Grace PeriodFrom:
Expiry time + 90 days

Expiry time + 95 days.
RFC5731 pendingDelete status shown in <domain:info> commands.

Does not resolve.

Appears in daily drop lists with future drop date.

Not available to renew.
Please note:
  • Standard EPP has two types of pendingDelete status, one in RFC5731 and one in RFC3915.
    Currently, we are only implementing RFC5731.
  • Timestamps shown are in ISO format where the timestamp denotes the UTC time a domain becomes available for re-registration.
  • Domains that are deleted
    * in the add grace period prior to invoicing will continue to be purged immediately.
    * for any reason other than at the end of life (e.g. cancellation by the registrant) will enter the final five days of pendingDelete and appear on drop lists.
  • Acceptable use policies – Currently, there are no changes to the acceptable use policies.

Testbed configurations

We have extended the testbed environment dataset to have domains at different phases of their drop lifecycle; testbed itself does not generate drop lists. For details of the dropping domains in testbed, please visit registrar resources.

Transitional arrangements

When we deploy these changes to production, some domains will already be in the end-of-life process; they will be reset as if they had entered the new end-of-life process to drop 95 days after their expiry for consistency.

At the point of deployment of the new lifecycle:

  1. Some domains will have already dropped randomly that day under the current rules.
  2. Any domains that had not dropped by the time of the deployment will be reset to drop according to the new rules.
  3. The new rules have a longer lifecycle period than the old rules, therefore there will be a few days of no drops.

Further details around the production release

While the EPP changes have been released to testbed to support registrar integration testing, further details for the product release are provided here:

Drop Lists

  • The first drop list will be provided at the time of the production release.
  • As the new rules have a longer lifecycle period than the old rules there will be a few days of no drops.
  • It will be available publicly for anyone to download over HTTPS; the link will be provided on this page on the day of release. 
  • Two files will be available and updated once daily:
    • Drop list – a single gzipped CSV file including the full list
    • A checksum file.
  • The file is provided using gzip as that allows the files to be read and parsed without first decompressing them.
  • We intend to generate and publish a drop list at the same time each day. In the event of any technical issue with the generation or publication of the list, then it will be published later that day.
  • For most users missing a single day or two days of a drop list will not have a meaningful impact as the details will remain in the next list (or have been in the prior lists), however we recommend if you are automating the downloading of the drop lists you follow the following approach to make it more robust:
    1. Before downloading the drop list or its checksum file firstly check the ‘Last modified’ HTTP header using a command like: curl -L -I <URL>
    2. If the Last Modified header shows our file to be new then download the file otherwise try again later that day.
    3. If you wish to verify the integrity of the drop list you can utilise the checksum file to do so.
  • The CSV drop list will contain the fields:
    • ROID (Repository Object Identifier)
    • Domain
    • Drop time in UTC
  • The list will include all domains which both may drop as well as those which will drop so it will be very long. However, if a domain is renewed it will be removed from the next daily list but it is not possible to renew a domain in the last 5 day period.
  • Domains which will drop (as opposed to may drop) are therefore only confirmed for the next 5 day period at any one time.
  • Domains which are cancelled prior to expiry (except those in the add grace period which drop immediately) will be included on drop lists.

Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) server for .UK

RDAP is the modern computer parseable protocol defined within the IETF to offer a secure data-rich replacement for the insecure plain text-based WHOIS protocol historically used by domain registries.

In time for the launch of expiring domains changes, we will formally launch an RDAP server for the .UK registry. This new service will include a richer data set than the WHOIS, such as domain status information.

Details of our RDAP server can be found here.

Web WHOIS for .UK will be replaced with a new lookup service utilising RDAP data

Web WHOIS inherits its lookup data from the WHOIS protocol which means it is returned as a plain text response with few options for providing helpful information to the average user about its meaning. 

We will replace our Web WHOIS client for .UK with a modern user focussed RDAP client designed to not only provide the data currently offered by web WHOIS but also provide helpful information to internet users regarding what the particular data returned means. 

Domain Availability Checker (DAC)

The real-time DAC and time-delayed DAC will continue to operate as they do today. However, we recommend the usage of both drop lists and EPP <domain:check> responses to confirm drop times because they will provide you with the UTC timestamp a drop will happen.

The DAC will continue to show a domain as registered until the purge process is completed; but the CREATE command will now complete any purge for a domain that has past its drop time. The DAC will therefore only be useful for non drop catching scenarios.

WHOIS on port 43

There are no plans to change port 43 WHOIS for .UK or its output, and we will continue to run the existing WHOIS service.

Notes regarding the new drop-catching process

We recommend that you:

  • Download the drop lists no more than once per calendar day.
  • Utilise the daily drop lists:
    • as your primary source of information on when a domain will become available to re-register.
    • To offer back-order services to potential new customers.
  • Consider network distance and latency in reaching Nominet’s EPP servers to determine when to issue an EPP create command. Keep in mind that the acceptable use policy on failed create limits remains in place.
  • Creating domain objects without any nameservers will increase the speed of successful create commands as no checks are needed to check the host object exists. The domain can then be updated to have the nameservers required.

Information in relation to the drop itself.

  • There will now be a known drop time when each domain becomes available for re-registration, irrespective of whether the actual purge of the domain has completed.
  • EPP domain:check will show a domain as available at and after its drop time, even if the purge of the actual domain is still to process.
  • EPP domain:create will still succeed at and after its drop time, even if the purge of the actual domain is still to process – essentially the CREATE command completes the drop.
  • In contrast, WHOIS, RDAP, time delay DAC, real time DAC and EPP domain:info will still show a domain as registered until purge is complete; remembering that purge can be triggered by a CREATE this means drop catchers will need to utilise the drop times provided instead of lookup tools.

The key element to test is not around the drop per se, but the ability to target a specified CREATE timestamp.

Please note the only places where the drop times will be published are:

  • On the drop lists that we will publish daily.
  • In the domain:check EPP response.

How to find the drop times for domains pending deletion will be provided in the replacement for Web WHOIS.

Nominet committed to carrying out a data driven review of the implementation of the new expiring domains process six months after introduction. That analysis can be found in this paper.  

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