The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Generic top-level domain

A generic top-level domain (gTLD) is a top-level domain used (at least in theory) by a particular class of organization. These are three or more letters long, and are named for the type of organization that they represent (for example, .com for commercial organizations). There are currently 16 gTLDs:

  • .aero - for the air transport industry
  • .biz - for businesses
  • .com - for commercial organizations
  • .coop - for cooperatives
  • .edu - for educational establishments accredited in the United States
  • .gov - for governments and their agencies in the United States
  • .info - for information (unrestricted use)
  • .int - for international organizations established by treaty
  • .jobs - for employment-related sites
  • .mil - for the U.S. military
  • .museum - for museums
  • .name - for individuals
  • .net - for network infrastructures
  • .org - for organizations not clearly falling within the other gTLDs
  • .pro - for professionals
  • .travel - for travel agents, airlines, hoteliers, tourism bureaus, etc


When generic top-level domains were first implemented, in January 1985, there were six:

The .com, .net and .org gTLDs, despite their original different uses, are now in practice open for use by anybody for any purpose.

In November 1988, another gTLD was introduced, .int. This gTLD was introduced in response to NATO's request for a domain name which adequately reflected its character as an international organization. It is also used for some Internet infrastructure databases, such as, the IPv6 equivalent of However, in May 2000, the Internet Architecture Board proposed to close the .int domain to new infrastructure databases. All future such databases would be created in .arpa, and existing ones would move to .arpa wherever feasible.

By the mid-1990s there was pressure for more gTLDs to be introduced. Jon Postel, as head of IANA, invited applications from interested parties [1]. In early 1995, Postel created "Draft Postel", an Internet draft containing the procedures to create new domain name registries and new TLDs. Draft Postel created a number of small committees to approve the new TLDs. Because of the increasing interest, a number of large organizations took over the process under the Internet Society's umbrella. This second attempt involved the setting up of a temporary organization called the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC). On February 4 1997, the IAHC issued a report ignoring the Draft Postel recommendations and instead recommended the introduction of seven new gTLDs (.arts, .firm, .info, .nom, .rec, .store, and .web). However, progress on this stalled after the US Government intervened and nothing ever came of it.

In October 1998, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) formed to take over the task of managing domain names. After a call for proposals (August 15, 2000) and a brief period of public consultation, ICANN announced on November 16, 2000 its selection of the following seven new gTLDs:

These new gTLDs started to come into use in June 2001, and by the end of that year all except .pro existed, with .biz, .info and .museum already in full operation. .name and .coop became fully operational in January 2002, and .aero followed later in the year. .pro became a gTLD in May 2002, but did not become fully operational until June 2004.

ICANN now intends to add further gTLDs, starting with a set of sponsored top-level domains (like the current .aero, .coop and .museum). The application period for these lasted from 15 December 2003 until 16 March 2004, and resulted in ten applications. The list of proposed new TLDs is: .asia, .cat (or .ctl or .catala), .jobs, .mail (or .tmail or .mta), .mobi (or .mbl), .post, .tel, .travel, and .xxx. There were two separate, unrelated applications for .tel.

ICANN entered into commercial and technical negotiations with the candidate registries for .post and .travel in October 2004, and with those for .mobi and .jobs in December 2004. This is the first step towards approval for these potential new TLDs. .mobi is sponsored by a consortium of companies including Microsoft, Vodafone, Samsung, Sun Microsystems and Nokia. It is intended for mobile devices, potentially offering stripped-down versions of existing sites. .jobs is intended for sites related to job-seeking.

On March 24 2005, ICANN Completes Negotiations with Applicants for .jobs and .travel Sponsor top-level domains.

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Last updated: 05-21-2005 15:24:35