Why does the WHOIS expiration date of my domain name not match what Tiger Technologies tells me?

If you have a "domain name only" domain name registered through Tiger Technologies (that is, a domain name without Web hosting service), and you don't renew the domain name, you might be surprised to find that some "WHOIS" services show that the domain name has been renewed for a year anyway.

If you notice this happening, it's because the WHOIS service you're using is inaccurate: it's showing you the central domain name registry's inaccurate expiration date instead of the actual expiration date.

To avoid this problem with ".com" and ".net" domain names, you should always use the WHOIS service provided by the company you bought the domain name from — that's a much better way to see an accurate expiration date. The Tiger Technologies WHOIS service is at whois.tigertech.net.

For domain names that do not end with ".com" or ".net" (such as ".org" or ".info" domain names), it may not be possible to use WHOIS to view an accurate expiration date at all, because the only available WHOIS system for these domain names is the registry WHOIS. With those kinds of domain names that don’t have automatic hosting renewal, our customers can view an accurate expiration date by logging in to our control panel and looking at the renewal screen.

Why does this problem happen?

Because of a historical quirk of the way domain names were deregulated, the central registry WHOIS expiration date will never show that any domain name has actually expired.

The moment any domain name reaches its expiration date, the central registry automatically bills the domain name registrar (such as Tiger Technologies) the annual fee, then adds a year to the expiration date they display in their WHOIS records. They do this regardless of whether the domain name owner has actually paid the domain name registrar to renew it.

This sounds like a strange system, but it all works out. The domain name registrar then has 45 days to ask the registry to delete the domain name. If the domain name is deleted, the registrar receives a refund for the fee and the domain name soon entirely disappears from the central registry's WHOIS system.

Most registrars, including Tiger Technologies, do not delete the domain name until near the end of this 45-days-after-expiration period (they're usually deleted somewhere around 35-40 days after expiration). This gives the domain name owner a "grace period" that allows him or her to renew it with the registrar, even after it has expired.

What this means is that if you don't renew a domain name and it expires, the central registry will "renew" it for their internal purposes and show the "renewed" date in their registry WHOIS system. But the domain name company can (and almost certainly will) ask the registry to delete it within 45 days, regardless of the expiration date in the registry WHOIS system. Because of that, the central registry WHOIS expiration date is essentially meaningless.

For ".com" and ".net" names, domain name companies are required to run their own, separate WHOIS servers that show the actual expiration date, and that's what you should check if you want to make sure your domain name has actually been renewed and won't be deleted.