What is a domain name?

A domain, like google.com, is simply a unique address on the Internet. Domains are most commonly used to reach a website – they connect a page’s multi-digit IP address with an easy-to-remember alphanumeric string. Just like addresses in the real world include a country, city, and street, domains are made up of different levels, separated by dots.


What are top-level domains?

The top level of a domain defines entire categories of websites and they always appear to the right of the “dot." The most common ones are quite familiar: .COM, .ORG, .NET.


What are second-level domains?

Second-level domains are the string of characters that appear to the left of the dot in a URL, such as “Google” in the domain name Google.com.


What are country-code top-level domains?

Country-code top-level domains, or ccTLDs, are two-character top-level domains allocated to individual countries, such as .US for the United States, .JP for Japan, and .IT for Italy. Some country code top-level domains are restricted to individuals and organizations located in that country, like websites on .CA for Canada and .DE for Germany. Other ccTLDs are open and are used for everything from representing types of content (.TV, the country code for Tuvalu, is commonly used for video sites), to clever ways to make the domain spell a word (like in the website pho.to, which uses Tonga’s ccTLD).


What are Internationalized Domain Names?

Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs, are top-level domains in non-Latin scripts such as Chinese, Japanese, Cyrillic, Arabic and others.

ICANN introduced IDNs prior to opening the New gTLD Program. During that time, IDNs that correspond to country names were introduced, including مصر, the Arabic term for “Egypt” and 香港, the Chinese word for “Hong Kong.”

During the New gTLD Program, applicants were permitted to apply for IDN gTLDs for any word or phrase, not just country names.


What are “open” gTLDs?

Some new top-level domains will allow anyone to register a domain name for any purpose.


What are “restricted” gTLDs?

Some of the new top-level domains are intended for websites created by members of specific professions, communities, or interests. For example, a website ending in .ESQ will signify a certified legal professional. Similarly, .NGO is reserved for non-governmental organizations’ websites, and .CATHOLIC and .SHIA for sites representing those religious communities.


What are “closed” or “.BRAND” gTLDs?

Numerous companies have applied and activated closed or .BRAND top-level domains and will have complete control over the websites made available on them. These are usually recognized brand names, like .GOOGLE or .MARRIOTT. When you visit a website on a closed top-level domain, you can be certain that it’s authorized and its content is overseen by that brand.


How do I tell who owns a website?

You can tell who owns a website by viewing the WHOIS information. Many registrars offer WHOIS searches, or you can use a third party service like DomainTools.