I recently helped a client transfer some of their web services to a different provider. They also wanted to transfer their domain to their new web host, but since the client had just let their domain expire (and then renewed it), the 45 day domain transfer rule would have potentially caused them issues. I advised the client to wait 45 days before pursuing the transfer in order to bypass possible transfer problems.
What is the 45 Day Domain Transfer Rule?
According to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the organization responsible for coordinating systems which enable the Domain Name System (DNS), a Grace Period Policy occurs when a domain name is not renewed by its expiration date. After the expiration date, the domain name will be automatically renewed for a period of one year and the registrar will be charged a fee. Within 45 days of this renewal, if the domain is transferred away from the registrar, the registrar will be refunded and the year added by the auto renewal will be cancelled.
What Does This Mean?
Normally, a website owner will pay a fee to renew their domain for at least one year. Then they may initiate a domain transfer and will pay a domain transfer fee and receive an additional year to their domain rental.
If a registrant (website owner) lets their domain expire, they will need to pay their original domain registrar a fee to renew the domain. Then if they initiate a domain transfer within 45 days, they will pay their new domain registrar a domain transfer fee and receive one year on their domain rental; however, the year they originally received to renew the domain will be removed, and their old domain registrar will receive a refund from the domain registry. A nice domain registrar will then refund the registrant; however, not all domain registrars provide refunds.
Registrants who transfer names within the 45-day Auto-Renew Grace Period should check with the registrar from which they are transferring regarding a possible refund. Even though losing registrars receive refunds of auto-renewal fees they have paid to the registry in these circumstances, not all registrars make refunds to customers. The effect of failure of the losing registrar to refund is that the registrant pays registration fees to both the losing registrar (for the auto-renew) and to the gaining registrar (for the transfer), but only receives a one-year extension of term.
Based on a cursory search of the Internet, my client's original domain registrar was not in the habit of providing refunds.
If your domain expires and then you renew it, do not transfer the domain until after 45 days have passed to avoid any refund issues.