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What is a top level domain?


A top level domain, frequently abbreviated TLD, is the final portion of a domain name. For example, .com, .edu and .uk are all TLDs.

There are several different types of TLDs - often split into generic TLDs (gTLD) and country-code TLDs (ccTLD). Generic TLDs are the most common - .com, .gov, and .org are all gTLDs. Country-code TLDs are managed by specific countries, for example .uk is managed by a company called Nominet for the United Kingdom.

Country-Code TLDs

At Bravenet, we do not provide registration for ccTLDs. Due to their country-specific nature, you need to check with the registrar which handles that particular TLD. Most ccTLDs have some specific requirements, such as citizenship or a business license, limiting their availibility.

Most ccTLDs can be used as an external domain name for your Bravenet website - check with your registrar to see if they have any specific requirements or restrictions to this type of use, however.

Generic TLDs

Generic TLDs can be broken down further to restricted and unrestricted gTLDs. Restricted TLDs can only be used by specific groups - for example, only authorized US military organizations can register .mil domains. Unrestricted TLDs, such as .com can be registered by anyone on a first come, first serve basis with very few restrictions. Through Bravenet and our registrar DirectI, you can register names under the .com, .org, .net, .biz, .name, and .info TLDs. In addition, you can use a domain name registered elsewhere with your Bravenet website.

These unrestricted TLDs, along with a few restricted TLDs, are summerized below:

Common Unrestricted TLDs
TLD Original use Comments on current use
.com Commercial organizations The most sought-after TLD. Very hard to find useful, short unregistered domain names under .com
.net Network infrastructure Used by some ISPs
.org Other organizations Commonly associated with non-profit or non-commercial organizations, such as residential committees, volunteer groups, etc.
.biz Businesses A new TLD, created in 2001. Although targeted at business, most businesses prefer .com addresses, but .biz is gaining popularity
.name Individuals, families A new TLD, created in 2001. Still pretty uncommon, but chances are good that your name is available for registration
.info Information sites A new TLD, created in 2001. The most popular of the new set of TLDs, and often used for its intended purpose.
Restricted TLDs (not a complete list)
.edu Educational institutions Still restricted to schools, primarily post-secondary accredited US institutions.
.gov Federal Government entities Restricted to US Government. Now includes state and local government entities.

Choosing an appropriate top level domain (TLD) can make your domain name much more memorable. Although many people want to get a .com domain name, a well-thought out .org or .net name can be more memorable, and easier to secure, than a .com name. For example, which is easier to remember - ex4mple-4432.com or example.biz? There is so much competition for .com names that most of the "good" names are already taken.