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A domain name is a company's unique identifier on the Internet. The same domain name can be used with a company's Web address and their email addresses.

The format for a professional Web address is usually "" while an email address is generally A Web address does not have to begin with "www" but it has become standard over time and is easy to remember.

In this digital age it is not a good idea to use another company's domain name in your Internet dealings. For example, the email addresses or do not properly identify your business and using those domains implies your company might not be Net savvy. Similarly, it looks unprofessional to have your Web address in the form:

Domain names are part of the Internet's domain name system (DNS), which allows "user-friendly" names to replace the more difficult numerical IP addresses, such as "", that computers actually use to direct information to other computers.

Domains must be registered with an official Internet standards body. For example, in the United States, Network Solutions keeps a registry of the domain names. Another standards body (in the United States it's Internet Assigned Numbers Authority [IANA] ) keeps a database of the IP addresses.

Each domain name has two main parts, in the following format:


The original purpose of top level domains (TLD's) was to help define the type of enterprise named in the second level.  Three  top level domain names - .com, .net and .org - are designated as unrestricted, which allowed anyone to apply for a name using that TLD suffix. Use of  the remaining five TLD's was restricted to specific situations.

Unrestricted top level domain names.
The explosion of the Internet, the resulting scarcity of names, and marketing strategies have resulted in the three unrestricted top level domains losing their original distinctions.  Even restricted top level domains are changing to accommodate the increased demand.  This pressure for names has led to discussions of new top level domains, but the Internet's overseeing standards body --  The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) -- has not yet released a formal list.

Here's a list of the original three unrestricted top level domain names:

  • .com, an unrestricted domain designed for companies or commercial enterprises.
  • .net,  an unrestricted domain intended  for network providers and their computers
  • .org,  an unrestricted  miscellaneous category for organizations that didn't fit anywhere else, mostly used by not-for-profit organizations.

The .com TLD has more registrations than all of the other TLD's combined and its recent growth has been astounding.

The first .com domain name - - was registered on 15 March 1985 by Symbolics Inc., a computer systems firm in Massachusetts, USA. By 1992, fewer than 15,000 .com domain names had been registered. However, by 2010 that number had grown to 84 million domain names, including 11.9 million online business and e-commerce sites, 4.3 million entertainment sites, 3.1 million finance-related sites and 1.8 million sports sites.

Restricted top level domain names
Even though the Internet is a worldwide network, some of the restricted domain names (e.g., .mil) were reserved for specific U.S. use. These special U.S. names date back to origins of the Internet as a U.S. military project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Here's the original list of restricted top level domain names:

  • .int , a restricted domain name for international databases and organizations established by international treaties
  • .gov, a restricted domain name  intended for any kind of government agency or office but which is now only for U.S. federal government agencies.  State and local agencies are being registered under the country domain of .us (see "International naming conventions, below)
  • .mil,  a restricted domain name for use only by the U.S. military
  • .edu, a restricted domain name originally intended for all educational institutions but now limited to four-year colleges and universities.

International naming conventions.
In addition to the seven listed above there is one further category of domain names: country codes. These codes distinctly identify the nation in which the domain name was registered.

Some country code top level domains, or ccTLDs, have certain criteria for persons or entities that wish to register, such as a residence requirement. For example, the .au top level domain name belongs to Australia and is a ccTLD. The Australian registry requires that a domain name must be part of an Australian registered business or company name. Most ccTLDs have no restrictions.

Here's a list of the country codes currently in use:

AD Andorra
AE United Arab Emirates
AF Afghanistan
AG Antigua and Barbuda
AI Anguilla
AL Albania
AM Armenia
AN Netherlands Antilles
AO Angola
AQ Antarctica
AR Argentina
AS American Samoa
AT Austria
AU Australia
AW Aruba
AZ Azerbaijan
BA Bosnia and Herzegovina
BB Barbados
BD Bangladesh
BE Belgium
BF Burkina Faso
BG Bulgaria
BH Bahrain
BI Burundi
BJ Benin
BM Bermuda
BN Brunei Darussalam
BO Bolivia
BR Brazil
BS Bahamas
BT Bhutan
BV Bouvet Island
BW Botswana
BY Belarus
BZ Belize
CA Canada
CC Cocos (Keeling) Islands
CF Central African Republic
CG Congo
CH Switzerland
CI Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
CK Cook Islands
CL Chile
CM Cameroon
CN China
CO Colombia
CR Costa Rica
CS Czechoslovakia (former)
CU Cuba
CV Cape Verde
CX Christmas Island
CY Cyprus
CZ Czech Republic
DE Germany
DJ Djibouti
DK Denmark
DM Dominica
DO Dominican Republic
DZ Algeria
EC Ecuador
EE Estonia
EG Egypt
EH Western Sahara
ER Eritrea
ES Spain
ET Ethiopia
FI Finland
FJ Fiji
FK Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FM Micronesia
FO Faroe Islands
FR France
FX France, Metropolitan
GA Gabon
GB Great Britain (UK)
GD Grenada
GE Georgia
GF French Guiana
GH Ghana
GI Gibraltar
GL Greenland
GM Gambia
GN Guinea
GP Guadeloupe
GQ Equatorial Guinea
GR Greece
GS S. Georgia and S. Sandwich Isls.
GT Guatemala
GU Guam
GW Guinea-Bissau
GY Guyana
HK Hong Kong
HM Heard and McDonald Islands
HN Honduras
HR Croatia (Hrvatska)
HT Haiti
HU Hungary
ID Indonesia
IE Ireland
IL Israel
IN India
IO British Indian Ocean Territory
IQ Iraq
IR Iran
IS Iceland
IT Italy
JM Jamaica
JO Jordan
JP Japan
KE Kenya
KG Kyrgyzstan
KH Cambodia
KI Kiribati
KM Comoros
KN Saint Kitts and Nevis
KP Korea (North)
KR Korea (South)
KW Kuwait
KY Cayman Islands
KZ Kazakhstan
LA Laos
LB Lebanon
LC Saint Lucia
LI Liechtenstein
LK Sri Lanka
LR Liberia
LS Lesotho
LT Lithuania
LU Luxembourg
LV Latvia
LY Libya
MA Morocco
MC Monaco
MD Moldova
MG Madagascar
MH Marshall Islands
MK Macedonia
ML Mali
MM Myanmar
MN Mongolia
MO Macau
MP Northern Mariana Islands
MQ Martinique
MR Mauritania
MS Montserrat
MT Malta
MU Mauritius
MV Maldives
MW Malawi
MX Mexico
MY Malaysia
MZ Mozambique
NA Namibia
NC New Caledonia
NE Niger
NF Norfolk Island
NG Nigeria
NI Nicaragua
NL Netherlands
NO Norway
NP Nepal
NR Nauru
NT Neutral Zone
NU Niue
NZ New Zealand (Aotearoa)
OM Oman
PA Panama
PE Peru
PF French Polynesia
PG Papua New Guinea
PH Philippines
PK Pakistan
PL Poland
PM St. Pierre and Miquelon
PN Pitcairn
PR Puerto Rico
PT Portugal
PW Palau
PY Paraguay
QA Qatar
RE Reunion
RO Romania
RU Russian Federation
RW Rwanda
SA Saudi Arabia
Sb Solomon Islands
SC Seychelles
SD Sudan
SE Sweden
SG Singapore
SH St. Helena
SI Slovenia
SJ Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands
SK Slovak Republic
SL Sierra Leone
SM San Marino
SN Senegal
SO Somalia
SR Suriname
ST Sao Tome and Principe
SU USSR (former)
SV El Salvador
SY Syria
SZ Swaziland
TC Turks and Caicos Islands
TD Chad
TF French Southern Territories
TG Togo
TH Thailand
TJ Tajikistan
TK Tokelau
TM Turkmenistan
TN Tunisia
TO Tonga
TP East Timor
TR Turkey
TT Trinidad and Tobago
TV Tuvalu
TW Taiwan
TZ Tanzania
UA Ukraine
UG Uganda
UK United Kingdom
UM U.S. Minor Outlying Islands
US United States
UY Uruguay
UZ Uzbekistan
VA Vatican City State (Holy See)
VC Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
VE Venezuela
VG Virgin Islands (British)
VI Virgin Islands (U.S.)
VN Viet Nam
VU Vanuatu
WF Wallis and Futuna Islands
WS Samoa
YE Yemen
YT Mayotte
YU Yugoslavia
ZA South Africa
ZM Zambia
ZR Zaire
ZW Zimbabwe


Second level domain names are almost completely unrestricted. That's why they're so important in marketing your site. There are three rules you must follow when naming your site:

  • All characters must be alphanumeric, meaning letters and numbers, with the exception of a hyphen ("-").
  • The hyphen cannot be used at the beginning or the end of the domain name.
  • The second level domain name has a maximum character length of 67.

More information about rules for specific domains can be found in our Domain Name Rules section.


A large number of new Top Level Domain names have recently been released for registration. Despite the existence of alternative top level names the majority of the business world is buying names and branding companies with .com and .net extensions and ignoring other possibilities. This makes sense because presently the highest trafficked sites and the easiest sites to remember all use .com and .net. Another relevant point is that many web browsers do automatic lookups of .com addresses but no others.

We expect that .com and .net domain names will hold their value practically forever and only lower profile companies and sites will experiment with alternative top level domains.

Here's a list of the new domains now available:






Today .com and .net domain names have considerable resale value since they are business investments that can identify your company on the Internet practically forever. Most companies over time will conduct a considerable portion of their business on the Web, if not all of it. The most important aspect of generating new business and conducting business on the Internet is a domain name that is easy to remember for your customers and prospective customers. Also, an important consideration is to have relevant "key words" as part of your domain name that will enable customers to find your site easily through Web based search engines.

Many companies feel that they are stuck with a marginal name that they have been using for some time. However, you should realize that you can easily have multiple URL addresses (which include your domain name) point to the very same Web site. This will allow you to keep your legacy domain name and to have multiple new ebusiness names to conduct commerce with and list in the search engines.


In our opinion, investing a few dollars to permanently control prominent sounding Internet brand names is a deal that you would be foolish to wait on. Procrastinating risks that your competitors beat you to the names that you like or that their prices continue to rise.

If you have specific questions, you can find more information in our Help Center

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