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 (ccTLD) 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 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.

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:

Generic top–level domains (gTLD)

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

Sponsored top–level domains are those proposed and supervised by private organisations such as businesses and government agencies. Some common sTLDs are:

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

Country code top–level domains (ccTLD)

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

Infrastructure top–level domain (ARPA)

The .arpa domain extension is a special domain that is used for technical infrastructure purposes.

Test top–level domains (tTLD)

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 which don’t embrace new TLDs may actually fall behind as they become more valuable.

Availability & 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 will 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 which is missing from gTLDs, (they don’t call them general for nothing).

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’s 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.

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.

Cost of new TLDs

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.

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.