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What is a Top Level Domain? Common Top Level Domain Options

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/13/2010

Web designers and people who want websites built for them should be aware of all the top level domains, commonly referred to as TLD's. These are the extensions behind the domain name after the dot. Read this to find out more about the common top level domains.

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    Consider this a resource for all current and common top level domains, including proposed extensions and their typical uses. This will help determine the appropriate TLD to use for each website project you work on. Country Code TLD's will be addressed in a further article.

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    Common Top Level Domain Names: Generic

    Business .biz Though this is a generic name, it is a generic-restricted name because it is supposed to require proof of eligibility in order to register a domain under that extension. This extension is intended for use by businesses. It was created for those who desired a specific domain name that had already been registered on the .com extension and to relieve some pressure from the .com extension. This is becoming an increasingly common top level domain name.

    Commercial .com serves as one of the original domain extension options and is the most widely used domain extension. This is the most common of all top level domain names.

    Information .info This domain extension is intended for informative websites, but has no restrictions on registration.

    Name .name Though this is a generic name, it is a generic-restricted name because it is supposed to require proof of eligibility in order to register a domain under that extension. This domain extension is intended for use by individual people and personalities, even if these people are fictionally based. Despite the fact that this an official TLD, some systems are having trouble recognizing it and may not accept email from an .name domain, so its use is still limited.

    Network . net This domain extension is one of the five original ones, and was created in 1985. Its original intention was for internet service providers and those who ran networks, though there are no restrictions on registration.

    Organization .org This domain extension is one of the five original ones meant primarily for non-profit organizations, though there are no restrictions on registration. This is also among the most common top level domain names.

    Professional .pro Though this is a generic name, it is a generic-restricted name because it is supposed to require proof of eligibility in order to register a domain under that extension. This is meant for professionals who can prove their credentials in their field so that the average person cannot unethically use this domain extension.

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    Common Top Level Domain Names: Sponsored

    .aero is intended for use by the air transportation industry.

    .asia is intended for businesses, individuals, and other entities operating in Asia.

    .cat is meant for the Catalan Community.

    .coop is meant for cooperative organizations.

    .edu is meant for educational establishments.

    .gov is meant for governmental establishments.

    .int is meant for international websites.

    .jobs is meant for Human Resource Personnel.

    .mil is meant for military websites.

    .mobi is meant for mobile products and services, for both consumers and providers.

    .museum is meant for solely for museums.

    .tel is meant for publishing contact data.

    .travel is meant for the travel industry.

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    Infrastructure

    .arpa This domain was a temporary solution for the switch from the previous ARPANET structure to the current DNS structure. It is now a backronym for Address and Routing Parameter Area. No websites are registered to the public with this extension.

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    Deleted or Retired

    .nato was created for the international organization NATO, but removed and replaced by the .int extension.

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    Reserved

    .example is used for example technical documentation.

    .invalid is reserved to prevent actual use.

    .localhost is reserved to prevent actual use.

    .test is reserved to prevent actual use.

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    Pseudo

    These domain extensions look real, but are not officially recognized as TLD's.

    • .bitnet
    • .csnet
    • .local
    • .root
    • .uucp
    • .onion
    • .exit
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    Proposed

    .berlin is a location based extension for Berlin.

    .lat is a location based extension for Latin America.

    .nyc is a location based extension for New York City.

    .bzh is a nationality based extension for Breton language and Brittany

    .cym is a nationality based extension for Welsh language and Wales.

    .gal is a nationality based extension for Galician language and Galicia

    .lli is a nationality based extension for Leonese language and Leonese culture.

    .scot is a nationality based extension for Scotland.

    .geo is for websites with geographical locations.

    .mail designed for web based mail to help fight spam.

    .med is meant for medical hospitals.

    .kids is meant for children's websites and safe browsing.

    .post is meant for postal organizations.

    .shop is meant to be restricted only to e-commerce.

    .web is intended for various types of websites.

    .xxx meant for sexually explicit material. As of the latest data, this sponsored domain has been rejected.

    .eco meant for environmental causes.