Sponsored top-level domain

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A sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) is one of the categories of top-level domains (TLDs) maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for use in the Domain Name System of the Internet. IANA currently[when?] distinguishes 3 groups of top-level domains:[1] country-code top-level domains (ccTLD), generic top-level domains (gTLD) and infrastructure top-level domain.

A sponsored TLD is a specialized top-level domain that has a sponsor representing a specific community served by the domain. The communities involved are based on ethnic, geographical, professional, technical or other theme concepts proposed by private agencies or organizations that establish and enforce rules restricting the eligibility of registrants to use the TLD.

Generally speaking, a sponsored TLD is a specialized TLD that has a sponsor representing the narrower community that is most affected by the TLD, while an unsponsored TLD operates under policies established by the global Internet community directly through the ICANN process.[2]

For example, the .aero TLD is sponsored by SITA, which limits registrations to members of the air transport industry.

TLD Eligibility Sponsors
.aero Members of the air-transport industry SITA
.asia Companies, organisations and individuals in the Asia-Pacific region DotAsia Organisation
.cat Catalan linguistic and cultural community Fundació puntCat
.coop Cooperative associations DotCooperation LLC
.edu US Institutions of higher education EDUCAUSE
.gov United States government, states and local governments General Services Administration
.int International treaty-based organisations Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
.jobs Human resource managers private company
.mil US Military entities Defense Information Systems Agency
.museum Museums Museum Domain Management Association
.post Postal services Universal Postal Union
.tel For businesses and individuals to publish contact data private company
.travel Travel agents, airlines, hoteliers, tourism bureaus, etc. private company
.xxx Pornographic sites ICM Registry

ICANN only applied the term sponsored TLD to TLDs in the first two rounds of new gTLDs. It did not use the distinction between sponsored and unsponsored for new gTLDs in the 2012 round.[3]


As of 2015, IANA distinguishes the following groups of top-level domains:[4]


  1. ^ "Root Zone Database". Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.
  2. ^ "Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)". ICANN Archives.
  3. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions on new gTLDs". ICANN.org.
  4. ^ "IANA root zone database". Iana.org. Retrieved 2015-11-10.