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The domain name gov is a sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) in the Domain Name System of the Internet. The name is derived from the word government, indicating its restricted use by government entities. The gov domain is administered by the General Services Administration (GSA), an independent agency of the United States federal government.

IntroducedJanuary 1, 1985; 34 years ago (1985-01-01)
TLD typeSponsored top-level domain
RegistryGeneral Services Administration
SponsorGeneral Services Administration
Intended useGovernmental entities
Actual useUnited States government; formerly only federal government but later expanded to include state and local government
Registration restrictionsMust meet eligibility requirements and submit authorization letter
StructureRegistrations at second level permitted
DocumentsRFC 920; RFC 1591; RFC 2146
Dispute policiesNone

The U.S. is the only country that has a government-specific top-level domain in addition to its country-code top-level domain. This is a result of the origins of the Internet as a U.S. federal government-sponsored research network. Other countries typically delegate a second-level domain for this purpose; for example, is the second-level domain for the Government of Canada and all subdomains.

Some U.S. government-related websites use com, or org instead of gov, such the United States Postal Service (, various recruiting websites for armed services (e.g.,, and the websites for many US cities (e.g., The Department of Defense and its subsidiary organizations use the mil sTLD instead of .gov.

All governments in the U.S. were allowed to apply for delegations in gov after May 2012.[1] For example, domains have been registered for the city of Atlanta (, for the county of Loudoun, Virginia (, and for the U.S. state of Georgia ( This was not always possible; under an earlier policy, only federal agencies were allowed to use the domain, and agencies below cabinet level were required to use subdomains of their parent agency. Inconsistencies exist in addressing of state and local government sites, with some using gov, some us, some using both. Pennsylvania uses, and for the same web site, and still others in com, org or other TLDs.



Use of the domain gov is restricted to government entities. According to GSA guidelines, this includes U.S. governmental departments, programs, and agencies on the federal level; federally recognized tribes, referred to by the GSA as Native Sovereign Nations, which must use the suffix; State governmental entities and programs; cities and townships represented by an elected body of officials; counties and parishes represented by an elected body of officials; and U.S. territories.[2]

The URL for registration services is[3]


To register a gov domain, a letter of authorization must be submitted to the GSA. For federal agencies, the authorization must be submitted by cabinet-level chief information officer (CIO). For state governments, authorization from the governor or state CIO is required. Domains for cities require authorization from the mayor or equivalent official; for counties, authorization may be submitted by county commissioners or equivalent officials, or by the highest-ranking county official.[4] For Native Sovereign Nations, the authorization must come from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[5]

Naming conventionsEdit

The GSA provides guidelines for naming of second-level domains, such as those used by state and local governments. For states, the domain name must include the full state name or postal abbreviation, and the abbreviation must not be obscured by inclusion in a larger word. For example, for Idaho would be an unacceptable domain name. For local governments, the domain name must include the state name or abbreviation. However, many .gov domain names (such as and do not conform to the naming convention because they were already registered before the GSA enacted this policy and thus they had to be grandfathered in.[6]


Policy regarding the gov domain is laid out in 41 CFR Part 102-173.

No new gov domains for U.S. federal executive branch departments have been allowed to be registered since June 13, 2011, as a result of the implementation of Executive Order 13571[7] issued by President Obama. The move was part of a general attempt to improve the efficiency of U.S. governmental Web usage by weeding out unnecessary, redundant, outdated, or wasteful sites.[8]

Since May 2012, the Federal Executive Branch has a policy of registering no new second-level domains for its agencies, except on a case-by-case basis. Agencies are also prohibited from using other top-level domains such as .org and .com.[9] "Federal Agency domains" were also deleted on August 26, 2014.[1]

Use by states and territoriesEdit

As of February 2014, all states, the District of Columbia, and all territories except for the Northern Mariana Islands have operational domains in gov:

State or Territory Domain
Alabama and
American Samoa and
Arizona and
Arkansas and
Colorado and
Delaware and
District of Columbia
Florida and (redirects to
Georgia and
Hawaii and
Illinois and
Indiana and
Iowa and
Kansas and
Kentucky and
Louisiana and
Maryland and
Massachusetts and
Michigan and
Minnesota and
Mississippi and
Missouri and
Montana and
Nebraska and
Nevada and
New Hampshire
New Jersey and
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina and
North Dakota and
Oklahoma and
Pennsylvania and
Puerto Rico and
Rhode Island and
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee and
Vermont and
Virgin Islands
Washington and
West Virginia
Wisconsin and
Wyoming and

International equivalentsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Welcome - DOTGOV". Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Eligibility Requirements". General Services Administration. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  3. ^ "Delegation Record for .GOV". IANA. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  4. ^ "Authorization Letter". General Services Administration. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  5. ^ "Who authorizes domain names?". General Services Administration. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  6. ^ "Sec. 102-173.50 What is the naming convention for States?". General Services Administration. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  7. ^ "Executive Order 13571--Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service". The White House. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Lost and Found - Mapping Page - DigitalGov". Archived from the original on 21 August 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People". United States Federal CIO Council. May 23, 2012. Archived from the original on 2015-01-24. Retrieved November 30, 2014.

External linksEdit