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What is a top-level domain?

What is a top-level domain?

Everybody knows domain names ending with .COM, .NET or .ORG. These are the last part of a domain name. As you see on the image above, our TLD (top-level domain) is .NET as last part of our domain name is .NET.

A TLD tells something what the website associated with. Such as its purpose or the its geographical data. Each TLD has a registrar managed by a designated organization under the direction of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).


.net is a generic top-level domain managed and operated by Verisign. At present, .net is the world's third most-registered top-level domain, with Germany's ccTLD, .de, in second place. .net was originally intended for internet-referential purposes, though there are no current restrictions limiting it to certain entities.

ICANN identifies the following categories of TLDs:

  • Country-code top-level domains (ccTLD) examples: .us, .it, .es, .tr,
  • Generic top-level domains (gTLD) -- These are the most common and familiar TLDs. Examples include .com for "commercial", .net for "network" and .org for "organization". Most gTLDs are open for registration by anyone, but there is also a subgroup that is more strictly controlled.
  • Sponsored top-level domains (sTLD) -- is a special category of the top level domains (TLD)s  maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). sTLDs has a sponsor for specific purposes. Top level domain sponsors may belong to a specific ethnic community, professional group, or geographical location.The sponsor of the TLD is responsible to develop of policies, ensure transparency and accountability in its operations, and maintain the best interest of the sponsored internet community. Examples: .travel, .gov, .aero