Finding the right Instagram username is tricky. Instagram has over a billion users worldwide which means good usernames are hard to come by.
It can be especially frustrating when that perfect username is taken by an inactive account – accounts that are blank or abandoned.
There's no direct way to obtain an account that looks inactive, but there are several things you can try.
There are many reasons why for an inactive account. The owner has lost access to their account and can't get back in, the owner no longer needs the account, no longer wants to use social media, their business closed down, or they rebranded under a different name.
When trying to obtain a profile username, the reason for being inactive might work in your favor, or it may cause you a headache. For example: if the owner still has access, they may be willing to sell.
Buying a username
If the owner is willing to sell, this could be a win-win scenario – you get the perfect username and the original owner gets a payday!
There are numerous online marketplaces to sell Instagram accounts for anywhere between hundreds and tens of thousands of dollars.
You may get lucky and find the username is already for sale! But if not, you can try contacting the owner directly.
Contact the owner
If you haven't already, DM (direct message) the owner to ask if the account is for sale and for how much?
The owner may still be around and more than happy to sell. They will likely reply with a high price because they know you want the username so be ready with a counteroffer.
If nobody replies, the account may be truly abandoned. Look for clues as to who the original owner might be. They may be active elsewhere online. Start by googling the username and other info you can find in their profile.
Deleting inactive accounts
Instagram does delete inactive accounts, but which accounts and when is a big unknown. There's no schedule and no announcement – Instagram purges seemingly happen at random.
There's an excellent chance the username will be released back into the wild if it's genuinely inactive and doesn't have many posts. But there's no guarantee the username will become available again.
Instagram doesn't announce the schedule for these purges so you won't get a heads up from them.
The best way to detect when a profile gets released is with a monitoring service that will regularly check and notify you if a username has become available.
Notified if username becomes available
Services like Available.FYI can monitor a username and notify you if it becomes available after an Instagram purge, if the owner deletes their account, or for any reason a username might become available.
Request an inactive username
Unfortunately, Instagram doesn't have an official way to request an inactive username be made available.
Their help center instructions for when an Instagram username is already claimed but seems inactive suggests adding periods, numbers, underscores, or abbreviations to find a username not already in use.
Trademark or copyright
If you have a trademark or copyright for the taken username, Instagram has a contact form for reporting infringements.
Obtaining a trademark takes time, can be complicated, and will be an additional expense. If the account is active, it'll be a difficult process.
Orginal work falls under copyright and you can file an official copyright registration referencing the original work.
Instagram suggests you first contact the owner of the infringing account directly before submitting an infringement report.
Instagram doesn't have a general inquiries contact method. They've engineered very specific support forms for situations like unblocking an account or reporting a trademark infringement.
Sadly, they haven't engineered an inquiry form for claiming inactive usernames.
Some have reported success claiming a username through their Facebook Ad support rep (Instagram is owned by Facebook). If you have a rep, it's worth asking them.