What Are Top-Level Internet Domains?

You’re probably familiar with most top-level internet domains such as .com, .org, and .net. But did you know that a ton of new domains are hitting the web? Tech Talker dives into the murky waters of .coffee, .dance, .ninja, and other new domain options.

Eric Escobar
5-minute read
Episode #126


This week I’m going to dive into the world of internet domains. Within the past year, there has been a huge shake-up of top-level internet domains - also known as gTLDs (the g is for generic) or nTLDs (the n is for new). You’re probably familiar with most top level domains such as .com, .org, and .net.

If you'd like a primer on domain registration, check out my episode called The 411 on Web Domains.



ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the organization responsible for the new release of top-level domains. In 2012 ICANN opened up an application period where individuals or companies could apply to have a specific top level domain.

If you’re concerned that you missed out on this application period, don’t be. The application alone was $185,000. Not to mention all of the fees associated make it next to impossible for an average consumer to create their own top-level domain.

As you would expect, many companies with bigger pockets than you or me put their names into the application process. For example, Google put in over 100 applications for gTLD’s such as .app, .book, .blog, and .cloud, to name a few.

There were thousands of applications (all of which can be seen on ICANN’s website) and after a lengthy decision making process, new gTLD’s have been slowly trickling out into the general population.

So now here’s the fun part: Domain registration web sites such as 1and1.com, Name.com, and GoDaddy.com have opened up registration to many of these top level domains and will slowly begin to release more and more to the public.

What Does This Mean for Me?

For most of us this means a much wider selection of domains that are available for our web sites. For example, say you owned a coffee shop called Joe’s Coffee. You might want your business website to be JoesCoffee.com. However, that domain is probably taken, so you’d be out of luck.

But it just so happens that there is now a .coffee top-level domain. This means you can now register the domain Joes.coffee for your site. Notice that there is no .com or .org in the web site. The .coffee acts as the replacement for the more commonly known top-level domains.

There are hundreds of new TLDs to pick from that could be really advantageous to your career or business. Let's look at another example. Say you’re an accountant, engineer, or plumber. There are TLDs for all of these professions! I could register Escobar.Engineer for a personal web site. And if I owned a catering company, I could register Escobar.Catering for my business site.

If you’re interested to see a full list of domains that are available now, check out this link.

The domain registry site 1and1.com has a great “watch” feature that will inform you of when the TLD of your choice is getting close to being released. So you can be the first to jump on the domain you want.

I Want a New TLD Web Site! Now What?

Now that you’ve looked at that huge list of TLDs available, you might have a few ideas of ones that you would like to buy for your site. Your next step would be to do a few simple Google searches to find out when your domain is going to be available.

Release Schedule

Each TLD goes through multiple phases of release. The first phase is known as the Trademark Holder phase. During this phase only registered trademark holders can register particular domains. For example, Starbucks.Coffee, or QuickandDirty.Tips could register during the first phase because they have a specific trademark that goes along with the domain. This phase is also sometimes known as the “sunrise” phase.


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.