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Support is available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time (except public holidays), and 24/7 for emergencies.
Frequently asked questions
Your domain is central to your organization’s brand and availability over the internet. It’s also key to your security, and that of your users. We’ve outlined answers to common questions below.
We also recommend you review our domain security best practices page.
Don’t see an answer to your question? Contact us.
.gov is a unique space, only available to genuine U.S.-based government organizations and publicly controlled entities.
- What does a .gov domain cost?
- Who can obtain a .gov domain and what are the requirements?
- What’s an “authorizing authority”, and who is ours?
- What contact information do we need to keep updated?
What’s in a .gov domain name, exactly?
- What should we consider when selecting a .gov domain name?
- How do I request an exception to the naming requirements?
- How many domains can I request?
- What are the valid characters for a domain name?
The Domain Name System (DNS) is the internet service that translates your domain name into an IP address. This makes it possible for people to access your online service by using a name instead of a numbered address.
- Do you provide DNS hosting for .gov domains?
- What are the name server requirements for .gov domains?
- Why won’t my domain work after updating my request with name server addresses?
- How quickly will changes to my domain propagate throughout the internet?
- Will I be notified if a change is made to my DNS information?
- When can I define my DS record?
- What are the .gov TLD’s name servers?
Keeping your contact information current ensures that only authorized individuals can make changes to your domain. It also makes it possible for us to reach you if there’s an issue.
- How do I change a contact for my domain?
- Can one person serve as contacts on a single domain?
- Can a person serve as a contact on multiple domains?
Some surprises are wonderful. Discovering your domain is no longer on the internet won’t be one of them.
- How long is a .gov domain registered for?
- How do I delete my domain?
- How do I transfer my domain to a different agency?
- What happens if I do not renew my domain name?
Domain registration FAQ
What does a .gov domain cost?
Domains are available at no cost to qualifying U.S.-based government organizations.
However, it takes more than simply a domain name to put your organization on the internet, and we do not currently provide hosting services for registrants.
Who can obtain a .gov domain and what are the requirements?
Only U.S.-based government and public sector organizations are eligible to obtain a .gov domain. This includes any federal, state, local, or territorial government entity, or other publicly controlled entity. It also includes any tribal government recognized by the federal government or a state government. Eligibility is determined by the DotGov Program, which will be informed by the United States Census Bureau’s criteria for classifying governments.
The requirements specify the general requirements that all domain registrants need to follow, as well as the specific requirements for the different domain types, or kinds of government organizations. The specific requirements outline additional requirements (where applicable), but the key detail is that they describe who your “authorizing authority” is, or the official we’ll accept as signatory for your .gov domain request.
What’s an “authorizing authority”, and who is ours?
The authorizing authority is the official we’ll accept as signatory for your .gov domain request. To determine who yours is, evaluate what kind of government organization you are and follow the link (which will take you to the relevant section of our domain requirements):
- Federal: Federal agencies from all three branches of the federal government
- Tribal: Tribal governments recognized by the federal government or a state government
- State/U.S. territories: 50 U.S. states, District of Columbia (D.C.), American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands
- Interstate: An organization of two or more states. From our domain requirements:
Interstate (multi-state) governmental organizations are most frequently formed via legislation from Congress or from a legal accord between, or passed by, the state governments of two or more states. Examples include multi-state commissions, organizations that manage interstate compacts, or port authorities that operate across jurisdictions.
- Independent intrastate: An autonomous organization of a single state. From our domain requirements:
Independent intrastate (within a single state) governmental organizations are most frequently formed via state or local legislation, where authority is vested in them to operate fully or quasi-independently from the state. Examples include organizations authorized by law that operate a jurisdiction’s elections, manage regional transit, or do area-wide economic planning with governance independent from e.g., the executive branch.”
- City/County: Cities, towns, townships, villages, counties, parishes, boroughs, or equivalents
We’re an elections office. Who is our authorizing authority?
In general, elections offices maintain legal or practical autonomy from a municipality. Elections offices should follow the requirements for independent intrastate domains. The authorization authority is the highest election official. For state-level election offices, the authorizing authority is typically the state’s chief election official. For local-level election offices, the highest level election official is typically the elected or appointed official that runs the office.
We’re a school district. Can we get a .gov domain?
School districts that meet the characteristics of a ‘school district government’, as described in the U.S. Census Bureau’s classification of government units, may request a .gov domain. School districts that are dependent entities of local governments may not request a .gov domain, but their parent government (e.g., the county) may request one on their behalf.
For details about school district governments, see the section “School District Governments and Public School Systems” in Individual State Descriptions: 2017 Census of Governments (PDF pg. 12) and your individual state description.
School district governments are subject to the registration requirements for independent intrastate domains. So, for school district governments, the authorizing authority is the highest-ranking executive, e.g., the chair of a school district’s board or the superintendent.
What contact information do we need to keep updated?
Domain name registrants must keep names, email addresses, and phone numbers current for administrative and technical contacts. In general:
An administrative contact is the person who controls or approves content on the domain and is the manager of operations for the domain.
A technical contact is the person who directly manages or operates your DNS.
Administrative and technical contacts have accounts to the .gov registrar and can make changes to your DNS nameservers.
A security contact is a recommended practice. It should be added to allow the public to report observed or suspected security issues at your domain. Security contact details are made public. We recommend using an alias, like
Note: The security contact role does not have an account to the .gov registrar.
At present, we don’t allow a single person to serve as more than one contact - meaning that two distinct contacts are required. (This does not apply to security contact.)
Domain names FAQ
What should we consider when selecting a .gov domain name?
Your domain name represents your organization and your services – your brand – to the world online. When you’re thinking about registering a .gov domain name, consider the following:
- A good domain name is memorable, no longer than necessary, and describes your organization or service in an unambiguous way.
- Domains are often used in offline situations: in print, on signage, or spoken aloud in presentations or phone calls. Choose something that’s easy to say, easy to understand, and easy to read. We recommend against using a hyphen (
-) in your domain name.
- Not all names are available to you. You must follow the general naming requirements as well as those specific rules your organization type is subject to.
Alternatively, if your organization is a department or subunit of a parent government with a .gov domain registration, you might consider asking them for a subdomain. For example, instead of requesting
CountyOHSheriff.gov from us, you could ask
CountyOH.gov to delegate the subdomain
Sheriff.CountyOH.gov to your unit. This can even work in situations where you manage your own DNS or use a provider separate from the parent government.
Some additional subdomain approaches include:
- Expanding the range of potential domains when our naming requirements limit your selection
- Using a subdomain of another domain instead of requesting a new second-level domain from us (e.g., as part of a new service or branded initiative)
We don’t manage subdomains, so talk with the administrator of the domain you’re interested in sharing for possible solutions.
If you have questions about a domain name you’re considering, contact us.
How do I request an exception to the naming requirements?
If you have questions about a domain name you’re considering, contact us.
How many domains can I request?
For non-federal agencies, our practice is to approve one domain per online service per government organization, evaluating additional requests on a case-by-case basis.
Different than other top-level domains, like .com, .org, or .us, you don’t need to defensively register variations of your domain name. We will only assign a domain to the organization whose real name or services actually correspond to the domain name.
You do not need to make requests for multiple domains on separate authorization letters as long as there is a common authorizing authority for the domains.
What are the valid characters for a domain name?
The only valid characters for a domain name are letters, numbers, and a hyphen. Other characters, including a space, are not permitted. Domain names may not begin or end with a hyphen.
Do you provide DNS hosting for .gov domains?
No. We manage the authoritative name servers for the .gov zone. We don’t operate a managed DNS hosting service – nor do we offer web hosting, email services, or certificates.
Many DNS hosting service providers exist. Your technical support team may also manage authoritative DNS for you.
What are the name server requirements for .gov domains?
- You must define a primary and secondary name server in the .gov registrar.
- You may not specify an IP address for your name servers unless they are child name servers of the domain you’re trying to register or update.
If we authorize your requested domain name, we query your name server addresses for an authoritative response for NS and SOA records.
Why won’t my domain work after updating my request with name server addresses?
Adding name server addresses to a requested domain does not change its status from requested to active if other requirements are pending (for example, CISA’s review of the domain).
How quickly will changes to my domain propagate throughout the internet?
Propagation depends on a variety of factors, but changes are usually effective within 24 hours.
If you’re planning to make critical changes to your name servers over the weekend, please contact us before 5 p.m. the Thursday before to ensure the information propagates during weekend hours.
Will I be notified if a change is made to my DNS information?
Yes. Your domain contacts will receive an automated email when a change is made in the .gov registrar to their name server addresses.
When can I define my DS record?
You can define Delegation Signer (DS) records during registration or after the domain name is active. Before your DS records are published in the .gov zone, they will be tested and verified.
What are the .gov TLD’s name servers?
[a-d].gov-servers.net are .gov’s authoritative name servers.
Contact information FAQ
How do I change a contact for my domain?
A current contact should contact us to establish a new user account. If all contacts are unavailable (e.g., they’ve left the organization), the authorizing authority must sign a new authorization letter and assign new domain contacts.
Can one person serve as contacts on a single domain?
No. At present, we don’t allow a single person to serve as more than one contact – meaning that two distinct contacts are required. (This does not apply to security contact.)
Can a person serve as a contact on multiple domains?
Renewals, transfers, and deletions FAQ
How long is a .gov domain registered for?
One year. (Domain contacts will receive several reminder emails before expiration.)
How do I delete my domain?
If you’d like to delete a domain name, contact us. Once completed, you should ask your DNS provider to remove your domain’s authoritative DNS nameservers.
Danger: once a domain is deleted, the registration process must be started again to obtain the domain. Be certain you want to delete a domain before contacting us!
How do I transfer my domain to a different agency?
To transfer ownership of a domain name from one federal agency to another agency, two letters must be submitted to us: one from the transferring agency and one from the receiving agency.
Whether transferring or receiving, start by copying and pasting the domain transfer letter template into a document editor. The letter from both agencies must be on official agency letterhead and signed by the respecting authorizing authority. Once prepared, each agency emails their authorization letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. After we receive and verify both letters, the registry will be updated to reflect the transfer.
What happens if I do not renew my domain name?
Failure to submit updated contact information does not result in the immediate termination of your domain. However, it may be placed in a hold status. When a domain name is held, it ceases resolving in DNS, making all services attached to the domain inaccessible by name resolution.
If you do not wish to renew, please contact us to delete your domain.