How .Gov Domain Names Work

.Gov domain names are highly restricted domains. Here’s how they work.

Yes, it’s a slow newsweek. Save for a $33 million cybersquatting judgment and NameMedia pulling its IPO, not much goes on in a holiday week.

So here’s another post I saved for a slow newsweek like this. Earlier this week I reviewed .edu domain names including who could register them. In this article we’ll take a look at .gov.

.Gov is a top level domain name reserved exclusively for qualified United States government organizations and programs. The key idea behind .gov domain names is that, because of its exclusivity and registration requirements, visitors immediately know that the web site they are visiting is truly a government entity.

Administrator: GSA Federal Acquisition Service manages .gov as well as two second level domains discussed later.

Annual registration fee: $125

Requirements and policies:
Who’s eligible to register .gov top level domains:
-U.S. Governmental departments, programs, and agencies on the federal level
-State governmental entities/programs
-Cities and townships represented by an elected body of officials
-Counties and parishes represented by an elected body of officials
-U.S. territories

Who’s not eligible:
-International organizations
-Commercial firms
-Privately owned organizations
-Military entities (except in special cases)
-Local (e.g., city, county, township, or parish) government programs or initiatives
-Cities, townships, counties, and other local entities that are not represented by an elected body of officials

There are also a number of naming conventions. For example, state entities must use their full state name or abbreviation in the domain, such as and

GSA encourages cities to register for third level domains underneath their state’s second level domain.

It also manages two second level domains: and is for federally recognized Indian tribes and is restricted to U.S. Federal Government cabinet-level agencies.

More information about .gov is available at


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