Choose your domain name

Follow these criteria to make sure that you choose an appropriate domain name.

When you choose your domain name you must make sure it is:

Choose a descriptive domain name

Your proposed domain name must clearly describe your organisation or government initiative you’re providing. Your domain name must:

  • be between 3 and 63 characters long
  • contain only alphanumeric characters (0-9 and a-z) and the ‘-‘ (dash) symbol
  • not be the same or substantially similar to an existing domain name
  • not use ‘&’ (ampersands) or ‘_’ (underscores)
  • not include abbreviations like ltd, plc and gov
  • not include a postcode

You could use the full name of your organisation, government initiative or an appropriate suffix.


A central department can use

A county council can use

A parish council can use or

A geographical identifier your users will recognise.

Example is acceptable.

Make your proposed domain name unique

If your proposed domain name is the same as another domain name you must choose another name.

If you apply for a generic word or combination of generic words for a domain name, the Government Digital Service (GDS) will refer this to the Naming and Approvals Committee. The committee may contact other government organisations who may have a claim on the generic words before they make their final decision.

Example is generic and GDS would refer this request to the Naming and Approvals Committee.

Avoid user confusion when using acronyms or abbreviations

If you use an acronym, initialism, or abbreviation this must be descriptive, unique and clear to avoid user confusion. Any application for these terms will need approval from the Naming and Approvals Committee. You can use commonly-used abbreviations like DWP, HMRC or DVLA. You can also use abbreviations that are well-known to your users.

Example is acceptable for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Published 7 October 2019
  1. Step 1 Check if your organisation can apply

  2. Step 2 Appoint a domain name administrator and choose a registrar

    You must appoint someone to register the domain name. The Government Digital Service (GDS) must be able to contact them.

    1. Appoint a domain name administrator
    2. How to choose a good registrar or Domain Name Service (DNS) provider
  3. Step 3 Choose your domain name

  4. Step 4 Apply for your domain name

  5. Step 5 Appeal your rejected domain name application

  6. Step 6 Use your domain name

    You must follow the Cabinet Office guidelines when your domain is live, or GDS will withdraw it. For example, you must keep your contact details up to date.

    1. Set up, use and protect your domain name
  7. Step 7 Manage your domain name

    You can make changes to your domain name.

    1. Renew, modify or transfer your domain name

    If your organisation no longer needs a domain name, you must take steps to protect it.

    1. Stop using your domain name