Here is a quick guide on what happens if a TLD domain has not been renewed
What is a TLD Domain?
A Top Level Domain (TLD) includes domain names that end with .com .net .org .biz
So it has passed the renewal date what happens next?
After the renewal date has lapsed the domain will go through three stages:
Stage 1 - Expired: (1 to 45 days):
The domain has expired and the Registrant’s rights have lapsed. During this period the domain is placed “on-hold”.
The domain will cease to work (i.e. point to a website or run email services)
Sometime's the Registrar “parks” the domain so visitors to the domain will see a “Domain Expired” web page which often includes pay-per-click advertising links.
Registrars can choose to keep a domain in this stage between 1 to 45 days. Most Registrars use between 28 and 45 days for their Expired status. A domain name in the Expired status can still be renewed quickly and inexpensively for the cost of a one year registration.
Stage 2 - Redemption Grace Period (30 additional days)
If the domain has still not been renewed it moves from the Expired stage to the Redemption Grace Period (RGP). This will be for 30 additional days after the EXPIRED stage. This 30-day period is controlled by ICANN and cannot be changed. Once a domain falls into RGP it becomes much more expensive to retrieve and renew. As Stage 1 (Expired) can be 1 to 45 days, the total number of days for Stage 2 (RGP) after the renewal date can be 30 to 75 days. A domain cannot be renewed after Stage 2 (RGP)
Stage 3 - Pending Delete (5 additional days)
If the domain has still not been renewed after Stage 2 (RGP) it enters the third and final stage Pending Delete. At this point the domain cannot be redeemed or renewed.
This stage lasts 5 days. After five days the domain name will be released to the public and anyone can register the name. You might be lucky and try to register it just after it is released. However there is no guarantee that the domain may be snapped up by someone else using one of the many "back-order" companies.
Different Renewal Dates?
Sometimes a domain may show different renewal dates on different domain search tools. (try our domain search tool here)
If the domain has only just lapsed a few days ago the renewal date might temporarliy be shown with an extra year until it enters the 3 stages above. When it enters Stage 2 (RGP) the renewal date will flip back a year (to the lapsed date).
The other scenario that can happen is that the domain renewal was officially a year later (and shows it on trusted services like Verisign or ours). However the Registrar can put a 'client hold' on the domain - so it shows a lapsed date - when officially it hasn't actually lapsed yet.
There are several reasons this can happen. One of the most common is that the domain was registered for more than 1 year but the client is charged annually. If the client fails to pay the annual renewal the Registrar will often cease all services for the domain and invoke a 'client hold'. (displaying the renwal date a year earlier). If the renewal with the Registrar is paid, they release the hold on the domain and it is renewed.
What's the lesson in all this?
If your domain is important to you or your business, you should renew it in plently of time.