.gov (pronounced "dot-gov") is a sponsored top-level domain restricted for used by government entities in the United States of America. The .gov domain is administered by the General Services Administration (GSA), an independent agency of the federal government. The URL for registration services is

The U.S. is the only country that has a government-specific top-level domain in addition to its country-code top-level domain, due to the origins of the Internet as a US Federal Government-sponsored research network (see NSFNET and ARPANET). Other countries typically use a second-level domain for this purpose, e.g., for Argentina, for Australia, for Canada, for France, for India, for Malaysia, for New Zealand, for Romania, for the United Kingdom, for Uruguay, for South Africa.

Some U.S. federal agencies use rather than .gov. The Department of Defense and its subsidiary organizations use .mil. Some U.S. governmental entities use other domains, such as the use of .com domains by the United States Postal Service (which uses both and for the same location, although it only advertises the .com version) and the United States Army's recruitment website (, this trend is repeated at the recruitment websites of the other branches of the U.S. Military).

Additionally, some technically private organizations having some formal association with the federal government make use of .gov, such as the quasi-public Federal Reserve System.

All governments in the U.S. are allowed to apply for use of .gov, such as for the city of Atlanta, for the county of Loudoun, Virginia and for the U.S. state of Georgia. This was not always true; under an earlier policy, only federal agencies were allowed to use the domain, and agencies beneath cabinet level were required to use subdomains of their parent agency. There is a lack of consistency in addresses of state and local government sites, with some using .gov, some .us, some using both (the Commonwealth of Virginia uses both and for the same location) and still others in .com, .org or other TLDs.


Use of the .gov domain is restricted to government entities. According to GSA guidelines, this includes U.S. Governmental departments, programs, and agencies on the federal level; Federally recognized Indian 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.


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. Domain names for cities require authorization from the mayor or equivalent official; for counties, authorization may be submitted by county commissioners or their equivalent officials, or by the highest-ranking county official. For Native Sovereign Nations, the authorization must come from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Naming conventions

The GSA provides guidelines on naming conventions for 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 Indiana would be an unacceptable domain name.)


Policy regarding the .gov domain is laid out in 41 CFR Part 102-173, a Final Rule promulgated by the GSA in the Federal Register on March 28, 2003.


External links

  • IANA .gov whois information
  • RFC 920 defined .com and the other original top-level domains.
  • RFC 2146 (U.S. Government Internet Domain Names)

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