Domain Auctions: How it Works

In a nutshell? 

Domain auctions let you snatch up valuable, previously-owned domain names before anyone else. These domains are a great opportunity for domain investing at a bargain price! Domain investors aka domainers, regularly resell their domains, some at considerable profit.

What is a Domain Auction? 

Every week at exactly 2 PM EST (or 3 PM EDT), thousands of previously owned .CA domain names expire and briefly become available for registration by new owners through a process called the TBR (To Be Released) Domain Drop.

A domain auction is the process through which you can request and eventually secure these domains.

Some of the domains that drop during TBR are extremely valuable and represent a great opportunity to obtain a unique domain for a new business project or to invest in a domain at a bargain price before anyone else. 

Experienced domain investors usually buy low during the auction, then sell high to individual buyers and make substantial margins. They can also “park” popular domains and run ads on them.

How does a domain auction work?

  1. Check in on WHC’s domain auction list to see the latest .CA domains dropping each Wednesday. The available list is finalized every Monday morning and often includes several thousand unique .CA domains.
  2. Select the domain(s) you're interested in and place a bid. Each domain you bid on requires an entry bid, which is the price you can expect to be charged if and when WHC successfully secures the domain for you, assuming no one else has bid on the same domain.
  3. At 2PM EST(or 3PM EDT) every Wednesday, the domains drop, and WHC competes against dozens of other providers to attempt to be the first to secure your domain(s). This process generally only takes a few seconds, and its results are published within 2 hours in your Client Area under Domain Auctions.
  4. If WHC is successful in securing your requested domain, one of two things can happen:
    1. If you are the only bidder for that domain, you win the domain! Its ownership is transferred to you once you have paid your entry bid and claimed your domain from your Client Area.
    2. If there are multiple bidders for that domain, the domain goes to auction. The auction lasts 7 days and closes the next Wednesday, around 1PM ET. The highest bidder wins the auction and receives ownership of the domain following payment.

If WHC is unsuccessful in securing the domain, you will not be charged and the domain is considered Missed. The entire process is therefore entirely risk-free!

Why is WHC my best bet for .CA domain auctions?

While there are dozens of providers that participate in the TBR domain drop process for .CA, WHC is your best option because:

  • WHC regularly wins more requested domains than other providers, with a 70% average success rate.
  • WHC operates the most advanced TBR auction system in the world, with over 15 years of continuous investment, research and development.
  • WHC has among the most simultaneous threads connecting to CIRA (the .CA registry) and a dedicated development team continuously working on improving our system.
  • WHC’s entry minimum bid is among the lowest in the industry, making the process affordable.
  • WHC values transparency and ethical business practices. We’re a CIRA and ICANN accredited domain registrar, and won’t compete with our clients for top domains.
  • WHC’s .CA domain registration, transfer and renewal costs are among the lowest in the world making it a solid choice for all your domain needs, even beyond the TBR process.
  • WHC’s domain auction system is spearheaded by domain experts with extensive domain investment experience and supported by 24/7 customer service teams.

What are Domain auctions, TBR and Domain Drop?

A Domain Auction allows clients to bid on recently expired domains that are about to be deleted or have been deleted and re-registered by WHC. It gives you the chance to secure it during the Domain Drop, as part of the TBR process.

The TBR stands for To Be Released, and it’s CIRA’s (the .CA registry) name for the process through which deleted domains become available again.

A Domain Drop is the specific event during which expired and deleted .CA domains become available to registrars through a competitive first-come-first-served TBR process. It occurs every Wednesday at 2PM EST, and lasts up to an hour. Top domains are generally snatched up on behalf of clients by leading registrars like WHC within the first seconds of this event. Domains that are not reserved during the Domain Drop are made available to the public as a regular domain registration at the end of the TBR process.

How do bidding and auctions work?

There are two types of bids during TBR:

The Entry Bid

Placing an entry bid from the WHC Domains Auctions page (formerly known as placing a backorder) shows your interest in a particular domain and allows you to participate in its Drop. All entry bids should be placed before the weekly Drop time, to ensure that we are able to prioritize your bid for you.

Entry bids represent the price you will pay for the domain if no one else places an entry bid for the same domain. You should consider placing an entry bid for each domain you are interested in securing.

Entry bids start at $18 and include the cost of the domain registration, if you win the domain. While this amount is not charged when the order is placed, a valid credit card must be provided and will automatically be charged if you are the winner of this domain. 

.Increasing your bid before the auction sends us a signal that there is strong interest in this domain. Bids are one of the indicators WHC uses to gauge the interest for a particular domain and to prioritize this domain in its internal algorithm when competing against other providers during the Drop.

Domains with multiple entry bids go to public auction after the Drop.

The Auction 

If WHC secures a domain during the Drop, and that domain received multiple entry bids, anyone who placed a bid on that domain automatically participates in its auction and others can still join the auction.

The auction begins shortly after the Drop has completed and lasts 7 days until 1 PM ET the following Wednesday. You will receive an email if you are part of an auction and can view and update bids through your Client Area’s Auction Center.

When participating in auctions, you will see the following information for each domain auction:

  • Domain: this is the domain in the auction.
  • My Bid: Your currently active bid in the auction.
  • My Max bid: This is the highest amount you’re willing to pay for this domain (sometimes referred to as a proxy bid). The system will automatically bid the lowest amount on your behalf as other people bid in the auction, up to your max bid. If someone outbids your max bid, you’ll need to enter a higher max bid for a chance to win the auction.
  • Highest Bid: The current highest bid leading the auction.
  • Status: This will show you where you are and if you’re winning or losing.
    • Losing: Someone else is currently the highest bidder. You have to increase your bid in order to win the auction.
    • Winning: You currently have the leading bid in the auction.
    • Pending Drop: The domain is currently awaiting drop. We'll let you know if we've been able to secure this domain after the drop.
    • Won: You have won the auction. After payment and claiming the domain you can start using it.
    • Lost: You have lost the auction.
  • Time left: this is the time left before the auction ends. Any bid placed in the last 3 minutes of the auction will extend the time remaining by another 3 minutes.

Keep in mind that popular domains are likely to receive a lot of attention (and bids) in the final minutes before the auction closes. We strongly recommend you set a high enough maximum bid to avoid losing the auction right at the end and monitor your auction closely in its final minutes. Popular domains often close at auction for amounts greater than C$3,000.

If you are outbid during the auction, you will receive an email letting you know.

The auction results for auctions in which you participate in will be available at the end of the auction in your Client Area’s Auctions Center. This is also where you’ll be able to claim any domains you win.

Why can’t I just register these domains using the regular registration process?

Expiring domains are not available for general registration until after the Domain Drop, and only if no one has claimed this domain during the Drop.

If you’re interested in a popular domain that others are interested in as well, the domain will likely be reserved during the Drop and you will be unable to register it yourself using the regular domain registration process.

As such, the Domain Auction is the best way (and often the only way) to help ensure that you obtain the domain you want before anyone else can.

What happens when I win a domain in auction?

After you win an auction, or if you are the only bidder for a domain, an invoice will automatically be created, and we will attempt to bill your registered credit card. 

The domain is yours as soon as we process your payment and can be claimed from your Client Area’s Auction Center. As part of the domain claim process, you’ll need to specify the new domain owner’s contact information. 

Once the claim is completed, you can fully manage your domain just like any other from your Client Area.

What is a “Hot” Domain?

Some domains are more valuable than others. Every week, we hand-pick some of the hottest domains that are about to drop, saving you precious time that would otherwise be spent wading through thousands of domains.

Hot domains have a small fire icon () next to them on WHC’s Domain Auction page. You can also choose to sort domains by “Hot” flag.

Hot domains are generally shorter domains (2 to 4 characters) or popular words that are likely to make for a strong online presence. These domains almost always end up in auction.

How much should I expect to pay for a domain in auction?

The final price will depend on the level of interest in the domain. Domains secured through the auction process can sell anywhere from $18 to four and sometimes even five figures.

Can I place a bid on other TLDs than .CA?

Not at this phase. However, we plan to open our domain auctions platform to other popular TLDs soon. 

Can I sell my domain through the WHC auctions?

Unfortunately, not at this time. We are in the process of improving the platform and working on adding an aftermarket section in the near future.

Where can I learn more about the Auctions policies and procedures?

Read more on our Domain Auction Terms & Conditions.

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