Domain name expiration cycles vary by top level domain. Some top level domains makes it mandatory that domains are renewed before the expiration date, but most have a grace period after the domain expires. The domain registrant can renew the domain during this period.
Depending on the top level domain and registrar, domains that aren’t renewed during this grace period will be auctioned or sold off to anyone who wants the domain. In a situation where nobody wants it, then it goes into pending delete status. Shortly after that, the domain is available for anyone to register.
Note that almost all decent domain names will be re-registered once they expire. People go through lists of expiring domain names and register anything that might be worth something. Millions of expiring domains are immediately re-registered every year.
If you don’t need the website anymore, people who visits or stumble on the site might likely be surprised or disappointed by whatever they find on the site uploaded by whoever took over the site. In some cases, it might not really matter, but it’s something to think about before letting a domain expire.
While some domains expire on purpose, others expire by accident. There are a few necessary things you can do to prevent accidental expirations:
One, renew your domains early.
Two, set your domains to auto-renew.
Finally, make sure the payment method for your renewal is up-to-date.
Expired domains can destroy. Renew early and set your domains up for auto-renew.