When you get a notice that your domain is about to expire, make sure you react, and react quickly. There is nothing worse than having to let a client know that in their ignorance and lack of action that they have lost their domain name or will have to pay several hundred dollars to get it back if they can even get it back.
ICANN has rules on what happens when a domain name expires. However the charges to get it back are in part determined by your registrar. In several situations the client has ignorantly not responded to numerous notes from the registrar to renew their domain name. In some cases they felt that they were on auto renew, but did not realize that their credit card had expired that was on file with the registrar.
If you let your domain name expire, this is typically what will happen. First your registrar will give you a grace period, then they will repoint the domain to a parking page in some cases taking down your email and website. Sometimes they don’t do this, GoDaddy will hoping to get your attention. If you still don’t respond, then the registrar will take back and own your domain. You will have to pay sometimes several hundred dollars to get your domain back at this stage, but you really have no choice. If you still don’t respond, then anyone who had reserved your domain gets an opportunity to buy it. Finally the domain goes back on the open market.
I have seen some registrars automatically keep control of the domain for several months trying to get more money from you to return the domain to the original owner.
The bottom-line is that if you want the domain you should not let it expire. If you have, then sometimes the best action is to move to a new domain name. It simply may be too costly to get your domain back.
Routinely when I renew a domain I start 30 days out. Sometimes the client does not know the registrar and research needs to be done. Sometime the client does not even own the domain and work needs to be done to secure it first. DO NOT wait until the last minute to renew your domain, it is simply too crucial for your business!