How to Get Taken Instagram Username

how to get taken username instagram

So you want a deleted Instagram username, but Instagram says it has been taken. This happens to many users, but there are ways around this issue.

When the username you are attempting to register on Instagram is being used or has been acquired by someone else on the platform, you will usually receive a message that the username is unavailable.

This can be annoying, especially if the Instagram profile now using your prospective username is inactive.

Some may want a taken Instagram handle because of business reasons or consistency.

You may prefer to use the same username on multiple social media platforms, especially if it is part of an established brand for your followers.

Of course, landing a totally unique username on a platform as popular as Instagram can be hard. Even accounts that have long been abandoned or disabled reserve their handles.

If you need that handle for one reason or another, you have the right to appeal for it.

This article will show how to acquire an inactive Instagram username that has already been taken and even request a transfer of active profiles’ handles. There are various ways to do this.

This Username isn’t Available Instagram

There are several ways to verify whether an Instagram username is already taken. Most users, unfortunately, do not realize this until they attempt to register a username.

The first step in creating a new Instagram account on the platform’s mobile app is registering a username. If you type an available one in the prompt and tap “Next,” you will proceed to the next step in account setup.

how to get taken instagram username

If the username is taken, you will receive the message, “this username isn’t available on Instagram.”

You will then be presented a list of automatically generated, available variations on this username that you can choose from instead.

When signing up for Instagram on its website, the email and username prompt will display a circled “X” if the handle you type in is already registered.

You can change your username after your account is created through the “Edit Profile” button on your profile page. If you change it to a taken handle, a notification of its unavailability will be displayed.

Otherwise, you can actively check if a username is taken by searching for it in Instagram’s search engine. Note that you must have an Instagram account to search for users on the platform.

Several websites inspect username availability on Instagram, though many are unreliable or spam sites.

Searching for a username on the platform itself is ultimately the best method if it is available to you (There are third-party websites that can display public Instagram profiles without needing an account).

That is mainly because this method shows you profiles with usernames similar to yours.

If you are hoping to make it easier for friends to find you on Instagram, you may prefer to think of a unique username and easy to distinguish from others.

If you find that you get this username isn’t available on Instagram when you first create an account, consider rejecting any recommendation for a similar alternative and coming up with something very different.

Note: The username prompt on the sign-up page of Instagram’s website features a circling arrow button that randomly generates a username based on your email and full name.

Of course, that may not be an option for users with a distinguished online social life or a monetized brand.

Does the Username Matter?

The importance of a username depends on its salience across social media and overall value to your brand.

If you do not have many other social media accounts or a particularly lucrative brand, you may as well go with a different username. This option will be explored later in the article.

A unique username counts significantly if you hope to become more of a brand on Instagram and social media.

To be a brand is to be identifiable to a following of friends and fans. You want to ensure that these people can easily find you, so put a lot of thought and creativity into a unique, memorable handle.

A recognizable username can be integral to your marketability and opportunities to monetize content if you have a business or creator account.

Where money is involved, so too can the law be. We will discuss having a legal right to a username in a moment.

Even if you do not have such a claim to a handle, your unique one can be important to you and your following.

It is possible to transfer usernames on Instagram, but this process can be uncertain and difficult.

Get the Name Trademarked

The best way to acquire an inactive, taken username on Instagram is to get that name trademarked.

When you have a trademarked name, Instagram will allow you to use that name as a username even if another Instagram account previously took it.

One’s trademarked identity carries a commodity, so unauthorized use can be a potentially serious legal matter.

You might not be automatically given your trademarked handle if its user is shown to be still active.

Nevertheless, the simple fact is that Instagram prioritizes business over personal accounts. A lucrative brand on the platform marks a mutual investment, especially where ad space is concerned.

Instagram defines a trademark as “a word, slogan, symbol or design (for example, a brand name or logo) that a person or company uses to distinguish their products or services from those offered by others.”

There are several ways to trademark a name as a legally formal brand. This is a sensitive process that can even be rather costly (Between $250 and $750 in the United States).

The main stipulation for registering a trademark is that the brand name cannot have been trademarked by someone else and must be distinctive.

An unoriginal and confusing brand name could hurt your chances of getting it trademarked.

A social media username can even be trademarked as an official brand name. Avoid a generic name if you anticipate monetizing it in the future.

After you have trademarked your username, contact Instagram with a thorough explanation and evidence of legal ownership.

You will need to provide the username in question, your reason for needing it, basic contact information for identifying verification, and a digital copy of the certificate for your trademarked brand name.

If you have created or are considering creating an Instagram account with an already trademarked username, you should consider doing this as a precaution.

If you report that an active user has taken your trademarked handle, that person may be interrogated or penalized by Instagram according to the situation.

Courteously communicate with this user about the situation. If this person refuses to relinquish the trademarked username, you may have to report copyright infringement.

The unauthorized use of a different name and identity on social media could constitute fraud. This dilemma will be explored more later.

Once Instagram upholds your legal right to a username, you should be able to acquire it.

If you do not want to use this method or think it is unnecessary, you may want to go on to the next solution.

Check the Status of the Account

Before you attempt to acquire an active username that has not been trademarked, ensure that the user is not active in turn.

Check this user’s profile and posts to see if there has been any recent activity.

An account may be ruled inactive if it has not been accessed for an extended period. Instagram has not publicly declared a specific timeframe or criteria for this ruling.

An account that has been inactive for an extended length of time can be automatically deleted. This will be explored as a potential solution to your username problem later.

Generally, an account is not considered inactive if it is abandoned.

If this profile has few or no posts and followers, it is either new or has been left dormant. Check the date of the newest post if there are any.

Of course, verifying the activity of an account can be difficult if its posts are set to Private.

Users cannot see when someone else’s profile was created, but Instagram can. Reporting suspicions of an inactive account to Instagram will be explored later.

You can also send this user a message to see if you get a response. This gesture is also recommended if you see that this profile is indeed active.

Message the Account

If you feel you have a strong enough claim to a username that an active user is using, try simply asking for it in a message to that person.

If you do not get a reply, it could indicate that the account is inactive. Search for this username on other social media platforms to see if you can reach out.

Otherwise, as you can imagine, this user may be reluctant to relinquish the username.

You may be lucky or persuasive enough to get this person to agree to a transfer. This would entail the other party getting a new username so that the old one becomes available in 14 days.

Again, if you have a legal claim to a trademarked username, it may be considered courteous to inform the person who took it to avoid copyright issues.

On the other hand, you may be able to pay the owner of a trademarked username for the transfer of ownership.

The fulfillment of such a request for a trademark transfer is not very likely in the first place. Moreover, it could be an expensive process for you.

There have been cases of Instagram users offering to relinquish non-trademarked usernames for a fee. While you are free to comply with these terms, in most cases, financial solicitation is prohibited by Instagram.

Go to the Help Center

Once you have determined that an account that has taken your preferred username is inactive, the next step is to take the matter to Instagram.

Instagram’s Help Center features a sizable database of articles to help you better understand the platform’s features. It even features extensive information about usernames and how they can be recycled.

Look up “Username” in the Help Center’s search bar to better understand how Instagram manages usernames and your rights to them.

Once you understand these rights, contact Instagram with your belief that an account using your preferred username is inactive.

You can report your dilemma via the aforementioned contact feature of the Instagram website or send an email to [email protected].

Once you have done this, you may need to wait a few days for Instagram to respond. The platform will then launch an independent review to confirm that the account has been abandoned.

If the auditors agree that this account is entirely inactive, they should delete it and open the username to you.

Wait for Instagram to Delete the Account

If the Instagram account that has taken your preferred username remains inactive, it may only be a matter of time before it is automatically deleted for privacy purposes.

As mentioned earlier, there is some ambiguity surrounding the definition of an inactive account and, by extension, the length of time before it is deleted.

It is generally understood that after approximately 30 days of inactivity, an Instagram account is formally “deactivated.”

This means it loses all features and visibility on the platform unless the verifiable owner claims it.

Controversially, users cannot see that their account has been deactivated until they attempt to log in.

If a deactivated account goes unclaimed for 5-10 business days, it will be deleted entirely from Instagram’s servers.

If you have been keeping up with this process, do not be so quick to change your username or start a new Instagram account. It takes 14 days from the time of an Instagram account’s deletion for its username to become available.

For privacy purposes, Instagram must keep an inactive username on their servers for that long.

When you change your username, you may notice a message stating that you must wait 14 days to return to the previous one.

So, that is almost two months before an inactive username becomes available on its own. You may be lucky in your timing.

Reporting an account’s inactivity to claim its username can expedite the process. You will still have to wait for Instagram’s approval and the 14-day grace period before you make a claim.

Short of trademarking a username or directly requesting a transfer, it can take a long time for a username to become available again on Instagram.

If you do not have a solid claim to a taken username, you will have to be patient or come up with a different handle. There are still other tricks to try.

Find Other Contact Information

If you cannot communicate with an Instagram account that appears to be inactive, it may be discourteous to go ahead and attempt the acquisition of the username.

Try to discern this person’s presence and activity on other social media platforms. Sometimes people lose interest in their profiles but plan on returning before the platform deactivates a seemingly abandoned account.

As your Instagram username dilemma may show, people prefer to maintain a consistent brand across several platforms. Look up the user’s handle on other platforms and check the activity level.

An Instagram profile or the posts therein may even reference other social media profiles or contact information.

This person may use different usernames across platforms. If Instagram content is visible, look up the person’s display or full name elsewhere to compare that content and verify identity.

Some websites allow you to view public Instagram profiles’ posts as downloadable files. You can reverse search the most unique extracted image to see where else it is embedded on the internet.

If you find this person and can verify activity on another platform, send a message with your request.

It may be a safe bet that those with long-abandoned Instagram have no plans to return, at least to that same profile.

And yet, as necessary as a username can be to one’s online brand and identity, they may be reluctant to give theirs to someone who could deter their social media traffic.

A unique username is not simply about ensuring that your followers can more easily find you elsewhere but about avoiding being confused by someone with a similar brand.

Even if someone is willing to abandon an Instagram account, if that person still circulates the username elsewhere, you risk confusing followers.

Make the Account Less Valuable

If you need a specific Instagram handle that is not copyrighted, but its active user refuses to relinquish, you may be pushed to deceptive acts. This includes playing the reluctant user in the same game.

Suppose you create new social media accounts with the other person’s username, which devalues its brand. This could crudely discourage the user in question from changing brands.

Respect that devaluing someone’s social media brand can compromise that person’s online network presence, if not monetization. Someone taking your established username can devalue your brand.

Be careful and mindful of what you are doing, as creating a fake account could constitute fraud.

Fake accounts should only be reserved as a desperate, undeniably unethical measure in forcing your counterpart into a compromise on brand ID.

Bring some sense to someone who is only starting to gain value on a brand that is too similar to someone else’s.

In the interest of fairness of competition with social media branding, play by the rule of first-come-first-serve.

If you are a creator whose username is too similar to someone else’s, reach out to see if there is anything to be done about this dilemma.

Paradoxically, some people use particular usernames because of the value they hold. Their refusal to yield in this case requires a more ethical, perhaps no less harsh response.

Report a Fraudulent Instagram

Alas, your preferred username taken on Instagram is not always a coincidence. Fraud is a common and extremely inconvenient situation on Instagram.

Instagram has strict regulations against fraudulent accounts, informally referred to as “finstas.” It is a gross misrepresentation of identity at best and a suggestion of more serious fraud at worst.

If you are concerned that someone is impersonating you, whether this person has taken your common username or not, you can report the violation.

First, make sure that this is indeed a finsta.

  • Does this profile use your username or display name?
  • Are these users’ posts similar to yours or a copy of your content?
  • Does the user not disclose that this is just a promotional/fan profile or even claim to be you?

If the profile shows this evidence of fraud, open options next to the username and select “Report.”

If you do not have an Instagram account and cannot access this person’s profile, email your report to [email protected].

Naturally, the more high-profile your brand is, the more likely it is that someone will create a finsta claiming to be you.

Although you may not be able to stop all of these frauds, you can verify the authenticity of your own Instagram profile.

In the “Account” page of your profile settings, go to “Request Verification.” After official identity documentation has been approved, a check mark will accompany your Instagram profile name.

Use an Alternative Username

If none of the above methods worked, then one more option is left. You will have to accept that you can’t acquire your desired name and will have to use an alternative.

Instagram may decline your request to remove a taken username because you do not have a unique claim to it or that the profile using it is not inactive.

You could have a strong case if you suspect the account in the question of being a finsta. Still, unless you urgently need this handle for social or professional reasons, acquiring it can be more trouble than it’s worth.

For the sake of your following and brand, you may prefer to adopt a username that is only moderately different from your signature.

As mentioned earlier, the Instagram app will provide a list of suggested variations of the unavailable username when you try to register it with your account. Also, you can generate a random username on the website version of Instagram’s sign-up process.

These recommendations are not provided when you try to change the username of your existing Instagram account.

The best way to modify your username is to add abbreviations, punctuation, or numbers. An underscore is also a popular symbol in usernames, as it is a less obvious or blemishing variation on one’s brand.

Abandoning a username idea due to unavailability will not be a huge loss for most Instagram users. As we’ve seen, this is the absolute last option for many.


Hopefully, this article has helped you with your situation. Now you should know what to do if you ever want an Instagram handle that has already been taken.

If nothing else, you should be able to respect better the importance of a username in your social media brand for your following or even your entrepreneurial value.

If your username does carry enough value, consider trademarking it. You may even consider verifying the authenticity of your account if you’re concerned about fraud.

Otherwise, you will have to reach out to the profile that took the username or hope for its inevitable deletion for inactivity.

There are more assertive ways of dealing with someone who refuses to transfer the username, but you should always have the option of changing your username open.

If you are a bit confused about any of these methods, or if they or a different one worked for you, you may want to leave a comment below.

If you know anyone who may need this information, be sure to share this article.

Your brand is important on platforms like Instagram. If you feel that your username is part of that brand, it should be fought for.

Dozie Ejizu
Dozie is the founder of, with 10+ years of experience in Social Media and consumer tech devices. Dozie has written hundreds of articles with tried and tested methods to provide you with up-to-date information.