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Domain name types (generic & country-code top-level domains)

Domain name types (generic & country-code top-level domains)

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) today distinguishes the following groups of top-level domains:

  • generic top-level domains (gTLD): Top-level domains with three or more characters
  • country-code top-level domains (ccTLD): Two letter domains established for countries or territories

A generic top-level domain (gTLD) is one of the categories of top-level domains (TLDs) maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for use in the Domain Name System of the Internet.

The core group of generic top-level domains consists of the com, info, net, and org domains. In addition, the domains biz, name, and pro are also considered generic; however, these are designated as restricted, because registrations within them require proof of eligibility within the guidelines set for each.

Historically, the group of generic top-level domains included domains, created in the early development of the domain name system, that are now sponsored by designated agencies or organizations and are restricted to specific types of registrants. Thus, domains edu, gov, int, and mil are now considered sponsored top-level domains, much like the many newly created themed domain names (e.g., jobs).

A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is an Internet top-level domain generally used or reserved for a country, a sovereign state, or a dependent territory.

All ASCII ccTLD identifiers are two letters long, and all two-letter top-level domains are ccTLDs. In 2010, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) began implementing internationalized country code TLDs, consisting of language-native characters when displayed in an end-user application.

* .eu (European Union): On September 25, 2000, ICANN decided to allow the use of any two-letter code in the ISO 3166-1 reserve list that is reserved for all purposes. Only EU currently meets this criterion. Following a decision by the EU's Council of Telecommunications Ministers in March 2002, progress was slow, but a registry (named EURid) was chosen by the European Commission, and criteria for allocation set: ICANN approved eu as a ccTLD, and it opened for registration on 7 December 2005 for the holders of prior rights. Since 7 April 2006, registration is open to all.

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