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Recommendation: Caution
Summary: Picking up a valuable domain name the instant it's available
Outcome: Can increase the difficulty of registering a domain name
Addressed by ICANN Policy: N
Addressed by Legislation: N
Related to: ERRP

Drop-Catching, or domain sniping,[1] is the practice of picking up a domain name, usually a valuable one with a high volume of traffic,[2] the instant it is dropped by the previous registrant.[3] Drop-catching can occur through an automatic service that allows interested domainers to backorder names that are expiring, or it can be done by hand.[4]

Public Perception

Drop-catching is viewed as a fairly common service within the domain name industry. Some see it as being unfair to users who cannot afford to use an automatic drop-catching service or who have forgotten to re-register their domain names. Others view it as a natural occurrence related to competitiveness of the industry.


The result of this practice is that it can be very difficult to register domain names.

Historical Use

Drop-catching has been used to acquire domain names the moment they are available. Once the domain name is acquired, it may be resold for a higher value, sometimes even back to the original owner of the name.[2] Some companies, such as SnapNames.com or Pool.com provide competitive, automated drop-catching services.[4] Certain registrars also offer versions of drop-catching services, such as GoDaddy and Enom.[4] In a 2008 study done by the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) using 17,000 expiring .com, .net, and .org names, 100% of the .com and .net names were picked up instantly after they were dropped.[5] This kind of behavior seems to be indicative of a speculative and extremely competitive market for .com and .net names.

ICANN Policy

  • ICANN does not have a policy that is aimed directly at drop-catching, which has become a fairly common industry practice.
  • Expired Registration Recovery Policy (ERRP): In 2013, ICANN put into place the ERRP, which ensures that registrants of expiring domain names receive multiple notices from their registrar that their names are going to expire. If initial notices do not appear to reach the registrant or the registrant takes no action, then the "resolution of the domain name (may) be interrupted for a period of time after expiration, but before deletion, of the name to help make the registrant aware of the expiration."[6] The registrant then has the opportunity to reclaim the name during an ICANN mandated 30 day Redemption Grace Period before the name is dropped.[6]
    • This policy is not disruptive of the drop-catching process itself, but it does ensure that registrants receive warnings so they are not blindsided when their domain names are dropped and then picked up by other interested parties. It helps to prevent names from being dropped accidentally when they may not be easily recoverable.


There is no legislation that directly addresses drop-catching.

DNS Award

Awardees are careful to avoid abuse when providing drop-catching services and provide clear drop-catching policies to users.

Additional Resources

Related Articles


  1. Domain drop catching at Wikipedia
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sins of The Internet: Domain Sniper by Richard Lowe (July 5, 2007), DomainMonster.com
  3. What is Drop Catching?, AusRegistry
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 How to Drop Catch an Expiring Domain Name, Domain Superstar
  5. Drop-Catching Domains - Big Business (January 31, 2008), Website Magazine
  6. 6.0 6.1 Implementation of Expired Registration Recovery Policy (February 28, 2013), Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)