The Different Types of New gTLDs: Which One is Right for You?

The amount of new gTLD applications is at once exciting and terrifying (kind of like my second cup of coffee every morning). Exciting, because you’re going to have more options than ever to find the right domain name for you. Terrifying, because there are tons of applications and it can be overwhelming to figure out which nTLDs are going to offer the best choices.

You can check out the ICANN list of applications, which you can search by priority number, alphabetically, by location, by applicant, or by term, to see how many applicants are applying for the term you’re interested in. You can also check out our list, which is arranged by specialty and interest, to help give you a jumping-off point for figuring out what nTLDs might be in your marketable area.

But, either way, you’re still juggling a lot of information, and it’s important to be able to discern the different types of applications so you know which registries may be open to you. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of proposed extensions, and some examples of each, so you know what to look for as you peruse the list.

Open, Restricted, and Closed Registries:

There are three different types of registries – open, restricted, and closed. In order to figure out which are which, you have to read through the beginning part of an application, all of which can be found via PDF hyperlinks in the ICANN application list.

Open: Anyone can register in an open registry. The registry will either act as its own registrar, or delegate registration to accredited registrars, who will then register available extensions to you. Open registries are meant to operate as free markets, and many applicants site that they prefer to remain open in order to allow the Internet community to shape the meaning of the nTLD.

Restricted: Individuals, companies, or groups within a certain set of criteria may register. Restricted registries are often community or geographic registries, meaning that you can register a domain, provided you belong to the community, or to the geographic area defined by the registry.

Restricted registries aren’t always community or geographic registry groups, however. Many brand registries are operating as restricted, limiting registration to customers and employees, and some generic term nTLD applications offer restricted access, as well. For example, Amazon plans to offer .book to authors within their own Kindle community, while Google plans to offer .blog to Blogger users only.

The restricted registry is meant to maintain the validity of new gTLDs attempting to define a certain sector, and many applicants explain that a semi-private registry provides a safer, more well-constructed virtual name space.

Closed: You won’t likely be able to register a domain in a closed registry, because many closed registries are brand extensions, so the registration will be kept in the company for obvious marketing and trademark reasons. In these instances, the registry acts as registry, registrar, and registrant, keeping control of the new gTLD at all levels.

Closed registries are meant to strengthen branding, and protect trademarks by creating a closed name space for a certain group or company to expand their own identity.

Geographic, Community, Brand, and Generic Groupings:

Most applications can be grouped into four different sections – geographic, community, brand, or generic – and each section can be open, closed, or restricted, depending on the applicant. At times, one proposed nTLD may be applied for by many applicants, who each represent a different combination. For instance, .art is applied for by 10 applicants, two of which are community applications, and of the two community applications, one community wishes to run an open registry and the other wishes to run a restricted registry.

Geographic: Any nTLD specific to a geographical area – whether a country, city, or continent. Examples include .Berlin, .NYC, .Madrid, .Africa.

Community: New gTLDs meant to be used as community registries. These applications get preference over all other types of applications and may relate to any type of community, whether religious, interest, profession, charity, or other. Examples include .LGBT, .Islam, .art, .tennis, .med.

Brand: Proposed nTLDs that relate directly to a trademarked brand, and will be used to help strengthen the brand by providing brand-specific domain extensions to the company. Examples include .AIG, .Samsung, .BestBuy, .Flowers, .JCP.

Generic: Any generic term used outside of the other three categories. Often generic term applications have a mixture of brand, closed, open, restricted, and sometimes community and geographic. That’s when things get complicated. Examples of generic nTLDs include .bike, .car, .app, .eco, .film.

Aside from all the variations on nTLDs, there are also internationalized extensions that use non-Latin script characters. Many applications are for Mandarin extensions, but there are also Cyrillic, Hindi, Japanese, Arabic, Sanskrit, and other languages represented as well. The applications range in the same categories, except that they do not contain Latin script and are prioritized for release before any Latin script applications.

Once you narrow down the nTLDs that best suit you, keep an eye on them with our watcher, which allows you to choose specific extensions in receive information on sunrise, application evaluations, and landrush. And keep checking back here, for current information as applications move through evaluation.