What happens if I renew a domain name late?

Hmm? Just wondering.

By late do you mean after it expires?

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Yes. Let’s say registration expires on 2008-10-03 but I don’t attempt to renew it until 2008-10-10 or something like that.

It depends to some degree on the registrar, but there is a “grace period” under which the domain is not available for registration by someone else and you have a chance to “re-renew” it (so to speak).

Check with your registrar for their exact policy and whether or not there are additional charges associated with such a “late renewal”.

At any rate, take care of it right away - IIRC, ICANN rules allow your registrar to re-use/sell the domain 30 days after it “expires” (I could be wrong about that being an ICANN policy, it may just be a common registrar practice).

The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to set it to “auto-renew”, which most registrars not only allow, but encourage (You leave a payment method on file so they can renew it when it comes up for renewal).