How do 3 and 4-year SSL Certificates Work?

Please note: From August 18, 2020, the maximum SSL certificate validity will be limited to 1 year (398 days) following new requirements announced by a number of major web browsers. Read more about the change here.

You may have noticed that if you purchase a 3 or 4-year SSL certificate, the certificate you are issued is only valid for 1 or 2 years. Don’t worry, this isn’t an error. You will still have an SSL certificate for 3 or 4 years, but you will need to reactivate the SSL once the initial validity period has passed. 

This is in keeping with rules set by the Certificate Authority and Browser (CA/B) Forum in March 2018. CA/B is the body that develops rules for Certificate Authorities that issue publicly trusted SSLs. This particular rule states that SSL certificates can only have a validity period of 27 months maximum

By giving you the option to purchase a 3 or 4-year certificate and reactivate midway through, you will get the lowest price possible for your SSL. Typically, buying an SSL which is valid for more years gives you a bulk discount. It also protects you against industry price rises. Plus, reactivating is easier than buying a new SSL and starting the process all over again. 

Once the initial SSL is close to expiration, you will need to reactivate your SSL.

How Reactivation works

If you purchase a 3 or 4-year SSL, we will notify you 30 days before the initial lifespan of your SSL ends. When you reactivate it, you will be issued a new certificate that lasts for the remaining time period of your certificate.

Reactivation is free. In that way it’s similar to a Reissue. But Reactivation only happens if you buy a 3 or 4-year certificate at your original purchase. If you bought an SSL Certificate valid for 2 years, but later decide you want it for 2 more years, you’ll need to Renew.

With some products, like PositiveSSL, we’ll remind you to Reactivate after 1 year to give you better prices.

When you get a reminder from us to Reactivate, it’s important you do this to get the full number of years you originally paid for. Reactivating is completely free of charge.

How to Reactivate

Click the Reactivate button in your user Account’s dashboard and follow the system guidance steps. Once the Reactivation is complete, you’ll see the Certificate Expiry date change in your Account. In the same way as a Renewal, you’ll need to install the new SSL files on your hosting account or server. But unlike a Renewal, this is not a new purchase.

What happens if you don’t Reactivate

If you don’t Reactivate, your SSL Certificate will expire, which means your website will no longer have encryption protection and your site will be flagged as ‘Not secure’. The certificate status will change to Paused. But not to worry, you can Reactivate at any time within the lifespan of your original purchase.