The top-level domain (TLD), sometimes called the internet domain extension, is the very last section of an internet domain name, located after the last dot, to help form a fully qualified domain name ( FQDN).
For example, the top-level domain ofand are both .com.
What Is the Purpose of a Top-Level Domain?
Top-level domains serve as an instant way to understand what a website is about or where it’s based.
For example, seeing a .gov address, like in, will immediately inform you that the material on the website is centered around government.
A top-level domain of .ca inindicates something about that website, in this case, that the registrant is a Canadian organization.
What Are the Different Top-Level Domains?
A number of top-level domains exist, many of which you’ve probably seen before.
Some top-level domains are open for any person or business to register, while others require that certain criteria be met.
Top-level domains are categorized in groups: generic top-level domains (gTLD), country-code top-level domains (ccTLD), infrastructure top-level domain (arpa), and internationalized top-level domains (IDNs).
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- .com (commercial)
- .org (organization)
- .net (network)
- .name (name)
- .biz (business)
- .info (information)
Additional gTLDs are available that are called sponsored top-level domains, and are considered restricted because certain guidelines must be met before they can be registered:
- .int (international): Used by international organizations for treaty-related purposes, and requires a United Nations registration number
- .edu (education): Limited to educational institutions only
- .gov (government): Limited to U.S. governmental entities only
- .mil (military): Limited to the U.S. military only
- .jobs (employment): Must be registered under the legal name of a company or organization
- .mobi (mobile): Might have to adhere to mobile-compatible guidelines
- .tel (Telnic): Limited to hosting related to contact information, not websites
Country Code Top-level Domains (ccTLD)
Countries and territories have a top-level domain name available that’s based on the country’s two-letter ISO code. Here are some examples of popular country code top-level domains:
- .us: United States
- .ca: Canada
- .nl: Netherlands
- .de: Germany
- .fr: France
- .ch: Switzerland
- .cn: China
- .in: India
- .ru: Russia
- .mx: Mexico
- .jp: Japan
- .br: Brazil
The official, exhaustive list of every generic top-level domain and country code top-level domain is listed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
Infrastructure Top-Level Domains (arpa)
Internationalized Top-Level Domains (IDNs)
Internationalized top-level domains are top-level domains that are displayed in a language-native alphabet.
For example, .рф is the internationalized top-level domain for the Russian Federation.
How Do You Register a Domain Name?
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is in charge of managing top-level domains, but registration can be done through a number of registrars.