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][failed verification][inconsistent] 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] Many consider '.gov' to be among the most trusted of TLD's. "DotGov claims that while many TLDs are generic, meaning anyone can obtain a domain name, .gov is a sponsored TLD, where the US Government acts as the sponsor for other US-based government organizations. These organizations are the only ones that can obtain a .gov domain."[3]

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
.app Developer companies, professionals and enthusiast developers Google
.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
.dev Developer companies, professionals and enthusiast developers Google
.edu Post-secondary institutions accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education EDUCAUSE
.gov United States Government General Services Administration
.int Organizations established by international treaties between governments IANA
.jobs Human resource managers Society for Human Resource Management
.mil United States Military DoD Network Information Center
.mobi Providers and consumers of mobile products and services dotMobi
.museum Museums Museum Domain Management Association
.post Postal services Universal Postal Union
.tel For businesses and individuals to publish contact data Telnic Ltd.
.travel Travel agents, airlines, hoteliers, tourism bureaus, etc. Tralliance Corporation
.xxx Pornographic sites ICM Registry

There will be many more of these, including top domains named after and controlled by a company. See Proposed top-level domain and ICANN-era gTLDs.


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. ^ "SEO and Key Terms You Need to Know". ADEL SEO.
  4. ^ "IANA root zone database". Iana.org. Retrieved 2015-11-10.