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What is a TLD?
The right-most label in a domain name (e.g. www.icann.org) is referred to as its "top-level domain" (TLD). TLDs with two letters have been established for over 240 countries and external territories and are referred to as "country-code" TLDs or "ccTLDs." A list of all ccTLDs can be found here. TLDs with three or more characters are referred to as "generic" TLDs, or "gTLDs." A list of all gTLDs can be found here.
The responsibility for operating each gTLD (including maintaining a registry of the domain names within the gTLD) is delegated to a particular organization. These organizations are referred to as "registry operators" or "sponsors." Currently, the following gTLDs are operated under contract with ICANN: .aero, .biz, .cat, .com, .coop, .info, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .name, .net, .org, .pro, and .travel.
Types of gTLDs
Generally speaking, an unsponsored gTLD Registry operates under policies established by the global Internet community directly through the ICANN process. .biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, .org, and .pro are unsponsored gTLDs.
A sponsored gTLD (sometimes called an sTLD) is a specialized gTLD that has a sponsor representing a specific community that is served by the gTLD. The sponsor thus carries out delegated policy-formulation responsibilities over many matters concerning the gTLD. .aero, .cat, .coop, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, and .travel are sponsored gTLDs. Entities wishing to register domain names in a sponsored gTLD will be required to meet certain eligibility requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
I receive offers to purchase domain names in TLDs that are not on your list. How can I tell if these are legitimate?
A current listing of TLDs that are part of the authoritative root zone is always available at http://www.icann.or g/registries/top-level-domains.htm. If a TLD does not appear on this list, it will not be universally resolvable on the public Internet. For more information on universal resolvability, please see http://www.icann.org/topics/T LD-acceptance/.
I have an idea for a new gTLD. How should I proceed?
Historically, new gTLDs have been added to the domain name system (DNS) based on proposals that were solicited by ICANN during specific application periods. Two such application processes have been executed by ICANN. All materials from the previous processes are available at http://www.icann.org/tlds/app- index.htm (2000) and http://www.icann.org/tlds /stld-apps-19mar04/ (2003).
At this time there is no permanent process for the addition of new gTLDs. ICANN is currently engaged in establishing a consensus policy on whether and how new gTLDs are introduced. More information on this process is available here.
Why is .edu not mentioned above? How can I register a .edu domain name?
The .edu registry does not currently have a contract with ICANN. The .edu top-level domain is operated by Educause. For more information on registering in .edu, see http://www.educause.edu/edudo main/index.asp.
Why is .gov not mentioned above? How can I register a .gov domain name?
The .gov registry does not currently have a contract with ICANN. The .gov top-level domain is operated by the United States General Services Administration. For more information on registering names in .gov, see http://www.nic.gov.