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I'm looking to buy a domain that's currently showing as pending delete, but also showing that it's in the redemption period. The strange thing is that it's showing the expiry date as next year, despite also pending deletion. Anyone know what's going on?

Domain Status: PENDING DELETE https://icann.org/epp#pendingDelete
Domain Status: REDEMPTION PERIOD https://icann.org/epp#redemptionPeriod

Expires On 2021-06-18
Updated On 2020-07-30
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This is absolutely normal, at least for a gTLD (you didn't even mention the TLD...)

The expiration date was 2020-06-18. At this time the registry auto renewed the domain, which means if you look at the registry whois or RDAP server you will now see an expiration date of 2021-06-18. If you look at the registrar whois or RDAP server you would see that its own expiration date has not changed (this is one of the hidden corner of the current domain name lifecycle, I tried to explain that more in details at https://serverfault.com/a/885149/396475).

But this means that after this date, the expiration will now always be seen as 2021-06-18 until the domain is either finally deleted (after redemptionPeriod and pendingDelete grace periods), or really renewed.

Starting at this time, the registrar has 45 days to delete the domain, after that the domain is definitively renewed. If the domain is deleted during those 45 days, then the registrar is not billed (or refunded if billed already) for the auto-renewwal.

Hence 2020-06-18 + 45 days = 2020-08-02.

Based on your output, right before that date, on 2020-07-30 an update happened. I guess, at that point, the registrar decided to delete the domain name.

When that happen the domain is placed on redemptionPeriod which means that the registrar has some time to "undelete" it, in case of errors. Which is why the second status is pendingDelete. It is only some time after (depending on registry policies), that the domain switches to a state where the registrar can not restore it anymore. You will then see pendingDelete twice in whois output, and no redemptionPeriod.

In gTLD, the "redemption period" is typically 30 days. So you may expect at 2020-07-30 + 30 days = 2020-08-29 to see a change in status (if the registrar does not restore it before that date), and then as the final pendingDelete period is typically 5 days, around 2020-09-03 the domain would be definitively deleted.

This is explained in the RFC about redemption, RFC 3915. See this text and state diagram:

2.  Redemption Grace Period State Diagram

   The Redemption Grace Period (RGP) involves several domain state
   transitions as a domain name moves through the redemption process:

   1.  A domain is initially in the EPP "ok" status, or some other
       status that allows processing of the EPP <delete> command.

   2.  A <delete> command is received and processed for the domain name.

   3.  RGP begins once the <delete> command is processed successfully.
       The EPP status changes to "pendingDelete", and the RGP status is
       initialized to "redemptionPeriod".  The domain remains in this
       state until either a <restore> operation is requested or the
       redemption period elapses.

   4.  A <restore> operation can be requested using the extended EPP
       <update> command.  Go to step 8 if the redemption period elapses
       before a <restore> request is received.

   5.  If the <restore> is successful, the Registry waits to receive a
       restore report from the registrar for a period of time defined by
       the Registry.  The EPP status remains "pendingDelete" and the RGP
       status changes to "pendingRestore".  While this extension defines
       a method to deliver a restore report via EPP, an out-of-band
       mechanism (such as a web site) can also be used to deliver
       restore reports.

   6.  The domain name returns to the redemption period state (state 3)
       if a restore report is not received.

   7.  If a restore report is received the EPP status returns to "ok"
       (or whatever it was prior to processing the <delete> command),
       and the RGP status is removed completely.

   8.  The redemption period elapses before a <restore> request is
       received.

   9.  The EPP status remains "pendingDelete" and the RGP status changes
       to "pendingDelete".  The domain name remains in this state for a
       period of time defined by the Registry.

   10. The domain name is purged once the pending delete period elapses.

   11. The domain name is available for re-registration.

   Figure 1: RGP State Diagram

             |
             v
   +----------------------+    (2)   +----------------------+
   |EPP: ok            (1)| <delete> |EPP: pendingDelete (3)|
   |RGP: N/A              |--------->|RGP: redemptionPeriod |
   +----------------------+          +----------------------+
      ^                         (4)    |  ^             |
      |                      <restore> |  |      No (8) |
      |                    +-----------+  |   <restore> |
      |                    |              |             |
      |                    v              |             v
      |  +----------------------+         |  +----------------------+
      |  |EPP: pendingDelete (5)|         |  |EPP: pendingDelete (9)|
      |  |RGP: pendingRestore   |---------+  |RGP: pendingDelete    |
      |  +----------------------+ Report     +----------------------+
      |                    |      not (6)               |
      |          (7)       |      Received   Purge (10) |
      |    Report Received |                            |
      +--------------------+                            v
                                             +----------------------+
                                             |       Purged     (11)|
                                             |                      |
                                             +----------------------+

(the fact that you have two EPP statuses is indeed hugely confusing, specially when both are "pendingDelete"; this comes from the fact that all of this is called the "rgp" EPP extension, it was not designed in core EPP but added later, so to fit it in the framework it has to create new statuses that way).

You can also look at ICANN timeline: enter image description here

and ICANN explanations on EPP status (the whois output shows the links):

https://icann.org/epp#redemptionPeriod :

This status code indicates that your registrar has asked the registry to delete your domain. Your domain will be held in this status for 30 days. After five calendar days following the end of the redemptionPeriod, your domain is purged from the registry database and becomes available for registration.

https://icann.org/epp#pendingDelete :

This status code may be mixed with redemptionPeriod or pendingRestore. In such case, depending on the status (i.e. redemptionPeriod or pendingRestore) set in the domain name, the corresponding description presented above applies. If this status is not combined with the redemptionPeriod or pendingRestore status, the pendingDelete status code indicates that your domain has been in redemptionPeriod status for 30 days and you have not restored it within that 30-day period. Your domain will remain in this status for several days, after which time your domain will be purged and dropped from the registry database.

Once deletion occurs, the domain is available for re-registration in accordance with the registry's policies.

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  • Wow, what an incredibly insightful answer. Thank you! Would that indicate that the domain would be released for purchase once definitively deleted (2020-09-03), or are there further states it needs to pass through? – IeuanG Aug 13 '20 at 17:03
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    There is no further state after pendingDelete + pendingDelete, see above state diagram, it goes to "Purged" on bottom right, that is deleted. However do note that registries delete calendar is not exactly predictable and obviously depends on the TLD (registry). As I wrote and in ICANN picture, redemptionPeriod is "normally" 30 days, and pendingDelete after it 5 days. But it is not like exactly at the second, for example a registry, to defend against backordering, can spread all deletes planned for a day throughout the whole day. So normally look around 2020-09-03 for deletion. – Patrick Mevzek Aug 13 '20 at 17:11
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    Of course if the domain you are looking at is in any way "interesting" other people may already have back orders on it or things like that, and depending on the current registrar, it may reduce your chances to get it at 0% because waiting for it to be really deleted at registry will never allow you to beat automated processes that try to grab expiring domains. So it all depends on the domain. It is often a more guaranteed course to contact current owner and try to buy it from him instead of waiting for deletion (which may be cheaper then... but only if you manage to grab the domain then) – Patrick Mevzek Aug 13 '20 at 17:13
  • Do note also that all above computation are based on the assumption that Updated On 2020-07-30 is related to the delete command from the registrar (which seems the most plausible to me but can not be guaranteed). If something other happened, then all the above is wrong. – Patrick Mevzek Aug 13 '20 at 17:15
  • It's a very interesting domain, but on a relatively niche (location based) tld. I've been struggling to find a registrar that offers backorder on it, so fingers crossed someone else hasn't had the same idea. – IeuanG Aug 15 '20 at 11:41

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