No matter what kind of project you’re starting, if you're creating a website, you’re going to need a good domain name. It’s like your virtual address, and in order for people to find it you’ll also need the right domain extension, which is like your virtual postcode.

Originally, there were only a few domain extensions, top-level domains like .com, .gov and .org. But as the internet expanded, it became apparent that more were needed. Next came country code top–level domains (ccTLDs) like and .us.

Skip forward to today, and there are thousands of domain extensions for you to choose from. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s go back to the start of top–level domains, and why they’re so important.

ICANN and its role in new TLDs

In order to reach another person on the internet, you have to type an address into your browser. Whether it’s a name or a number, it has to be unique so that it can be identified as the exact one to contact. ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the private, non–government, non-profit corporation that coordinates these unique identifiers across the world, including responsibility over:

  • Allocation of IP address space
  • Top–level Domain Name System management
  • Protocol identifier assignment
  • Top level domain management
  • Root domain name server system management

What were the original TLDs?

A TLD, or top–level domain, is a staple part of any web address. It’s the short string of characters at the end. .com? .net? .org? They’re all top level domains.

These original TLDs are the older domain extensions that are still in common use today, and are also known as general TLDs. Each has a specific purpose and a certain domain space to which it is connected. Take a look at some of the most common examples:

  • .com: used by commercial and personal businesses.
  • .net: shorthand for “network”, .net domains are commonly associated with internet providers, emails, and umbrella sites that are connected to various smaller sites.
  • .org: charities often use .org domains, as well as community groups, religions and other more personal organisations.

Although these three TLDs were designed with particular types of websites in mind, they can now be used for any site. Check out our .org vs .com vs .net domains article to learn more about the differences between these extremely popular domain extensions.

These original TLDs were introduced back in 1985 along with four other TLDs that were restricted to particular websites:

  • .gov for government websites
  • .mil for the United States Department of Defense (military)
  • .int for intergovernmental organisations
  • .edu for educational organisations

What is a new TLD?

As the internet expanded it became necessary to add new TLDs to cover all the different subsections of the internet. Some examples of these new TLDs include:

  • .tech: .tech domains are the perfect choice for tech companies.
  • .art: a .art domain name will help any kind of artist, whether that's a graphic designer, decorator or web designer, stand out from the crowd.
  • .shop: this is a great one in today’s world where most people do a large percentage of their shopping online. Register a .shop domain name.

These are just some examples out of the hundreds of new TLDs that are available to you.

TLD categories

The ICANN classifies top–level domains into different categories depending on the site’s purpose, owner and geographic location.

There are 5 official types of TLDs:

1. Generic top–level domains (gTLDs)

Generic top-level domains are the most common form of TLD in use today. These include many of the original TLDs that were released, which are now available for use with any type of site. These include .com, .org, .net, .co, and more.

Generic TLDs are usually favoured for their long-standing reputation, authoritativeness and wide applications, but this doesn’t mean that newer TLDs are an inferior option. Since gTLDs like .com are so commonly used, this means that many premium domains have already been taken, so it can be much easier to grab the domain you want with a new TLD. 

2. Sponsored top–level domains (sTLDs)

Sponsored top-level domains are those proposed and supervised by private organisations such as businesses and government agencies. These domain extensions are reserved for particular groups and organisations that fulfil certain criteria, and you must pass an approval process before you can use them. Some common sTLDs are:

  • .edu for educational institutions
  • .gov for governmental agencies
  • .travel for travel industry businesses

3. Country code top–level domains (ccTLDs)

Country code TLDs were established to denote differences in domains depending on their geographic location. Each of these domains have dedicated managers who ensure they’re operated according to local standards.

Common examples include:

  • ‘.uk’: United Kingdom
  • ‘.es’: Spain
  • ‘.us’: United States

Some ccTLDs, such as and .uk, are much more trusted and widely used within their region, making them a popular alternative to more general TLDs like .com if you only target a specific country. And, since these ccTLDs are less popular than .com, you’ve got a better chance of snapping up your preferred domain with this extension.

You need to live in a particular region to use certain country codes, but some countries have managed to make a lot of money from allowing others to use their desirable ccTLDs. For example, Tuvalu makes millions of dollars from its .tv ccTLD – licensing this domain earns Tuvalu about 1/12th of its annual gross national income (GNI).

4. Infrastructure top–level domain (ARPA)

The .arpa domain extension is a special domain that is used for technical infrastructure purposes. This domain was originally an acronym for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which was the organisation that developed ARPANET – the precursor of the internet.

5. Test top–level domains (tTLDs)

Test top–level domains are reserved for documentation purposes and local testing. Popular tTLDs include .example, .invalid and .localhost.

Why choose a new TLD?

Traditionalists would argue that you shouldn’t consider anything but the core group of original TLDs due to their recognised authority. However, as the internet continues to grow and the number of new TLDs increases also, the old school options are beginning to look a bit… well, old school. You could even argue that companies that don’t embrace new TLDs may actually fall behind as they become more valuable.

Here are the key reasons why you should consider opting for a new TLD:

1. Availability and exactness

Let’s say you start up a coffee shop called Chameleon. You could opt for a .com domain name, because sounds good, right? But, you guessed it, it’s taken. And so are the vast majority of combinations you think of. That’s without even considering the premium you'll have to pay for having the most popular gTLD on the web., on the other hand, is not taken. It costs a fraction of the amount, and it’s a unique web address that tells the visitor what the website is about before they even get there.

Same goes for .shop, .chocolate, .photography or any other new TLD. They all hit their target market with an exactness that’s missing from gTLDs (they don’t call them general for nothing).

2. Opportunities for creativity

Because there are so many new TLDs available, you can really start to get creative and try and think of names that will stick in the minds of users. Here are some of our favourites:

  • [Your pub’s name].beer
  • [Your international business].international
  • [Cooking site or your name].recipes
  • [Your fashion business].clothing

With the thousands upon thousands of TLDs out there, it's hard to imagine you won’t find something you like which is both creative and descriptive. Choosing something unique instead of a generic .com domain extension is a great way to stand out from the crowd and make your domain name more memorable. This can help boost traffic to your website and strengthen your brand identity.

Ensuring that your domain is short, punchy and easy to remember is important for improving your rankings in search engine results, which is the cornerstone of SEO. Keep this in mind to help you choose an SEO-friendly domain.

3. Brand protection

Even if you already have your ideal TLD domain name, it’s a wise move to scoop up similar TLDs that are on the market to prevent your brand being hijacked later down the line. Brandjacking is when someone else registers a very similar domain to yours to steal your traffic and harm your brand identity. They may start selling counterfeit products using your brand name, and they could also steal your customers’ personal information through these fake websites.

Brandjacking can be made possible through registering other TLDs or through typosquatting, which is when other people register your common domain name typos (often to sell these domains back to you at a highly inflated price). Therefore, if you register domain name typos and other TLDs yourself, you can minimise the chances of someone else registering similar domains and harming your brand. So, even if you’ve already got a .com domain, it’s still extremely useful to register new TLDs too.

4. Innovation

Do you want to present your business as innovative and forward-thinking? A new TLD can help you achieve this by highlighting your willingness to break with conventions. This is especially important for tech-focused companies that need to show that they’re keeping up with the times, or businesses that target younger audiences.

Cost of new TLDs

But how much do these domain names cost? The price for registering new TLDs depends on what the registry has priced the domains for, along with what the domain name registrar has priced them at. This means that you’ll find a big range in prices, from as cheap as £20 a year to sometimes £500 more.

Registration periods

A new TLD has a number of different phases before registration becomes open to everyone. The first is the Sunrise Period, where trademark holders may pre register domain names that are the same, or similar to their brand name.

After that, there are two types of Sunrise periods that registries may use as the final phase:

  1. The first is the End–Date Sunrise which is an auction process where domain applications are received by the registry (if there are multiple registrations it goes to auction). At the end of 60 days the domain is registered.
  2. The Start–Date Sunrise period processes claims on a first–come, first–served basis, no auction required.

Regardless of which Sunrise period is chosen, it has to be implemented into the process when launching new TLDs.

When do new extensions become available?

Once the Sunrise period is over, the final phase of launching new TLDs starts: General Availability, which means they become available to the public. This phase doesn’t have a time limit, and domain registrations are based on a first–come, first–served basis.

Some new TLDs will come with an Early Access Period (EAP), which means that businesses can spend more to snap up a domain during the first week of its availability to the public. As this week progresses, the new TLD will steadily decrease in cost. If you time it right, you could be the first person to grab a new TLD for a great price. 

How can I protect my brand?

One way of protecting your brand is through defensive registrations. This is the proactive step of buying domain extensions that are similar to the one you already have.

By claiming as many new domain names as possible, not only do you ensure that your customers can more easily find you online, you also help protect your brand and its reputation from competitors. Domain trolls and typosquatters have been known to buy domain extensions that are similar to their competitors and start directing traffic towards their own website.

By making defensive registrations, not only are you protecting yourself against competitors, you’re also broadening your own web presence, as you can forward the visitors from any of your domains to your primary website.

Now you know all about new TLDs

So, that’s it for today. You know everything about new TLDs that you’ll ever need to know, and a bit more. If you'd like to get your latest idea off the ground with a brand new website, register a domain name today. Or, if you've still got some questions, get in touch with our sales team.