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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 and OT&E 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.

Further details around the production release

While the EPP changes have been released to testbed to support registrar integration testing, there will be a further update in time for the production release providing information on:

Drop Lists

At the time of the production release, drop lists will go live and be available publicly for anyone to download over HTTPS. 

We will update the drop list daily, and the format will include:

  • ROID (Repository Object Identifier)
  • Domain
  • Drop time in UTC

We will provide further details closer to the production release.

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.

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

Web WHOIS today 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.

WHOIS on port 43

There are no plans to change port 43 WHOIS for .UK, 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.

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 after its drop time, even if the purge of the actual domain is still to process.
  • EPP domain:create will still succeed 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 and EPP domain:info will still show a domain as registered until purge is complete; remembering that purge can be triggered by a CREATE.

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.

Minerva House, Edmund Halley Road, Oxford Science Park, OX4 4DQ, United Kingdom