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All services in public beta or live must have a starting point hosted on GOV.UK. This is usually a start page.

You should start planning this before your alpha assessment.

Before your alpha assessment

Your service owner or content designer should get in touch with the Government Digital Service (GDS) content team. To do this, speak to the people in your organisation responsible for publishing on GOV.UK - they’ll raise a ticket for you.

The GDS content team will consider the impact your service will have on other GOV.UK content.

GDS will also:

  • work with you to draft a start point for your service on GOV.UK - this will usually be a start page
  • create a feedback page - also known as a ‘done’ page

These pages won’t be published until your service has passed its beta assessment.

There’s guidance on what information should go on a start page. You can test what works best for users in your prototype using the start page template in the GOV.UK Design System.

Set up your service domain name

After you’ve agreed the start point for your service, you’ll need to get a service domain name. This is usually similar to your start point URL and should describe your service, rather than your department or agency. For example, get-fishing-licence.service.gov.uk.

You’ll need to follow the:

You’ll need to agree your domain name with the GOV.UK Policy and Engagement team. Email the domain name you’d like to govuk-enquiries@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk.

After you’ve agreed a domain name

Once you’ve agreed the name with GDS, you’ll need to choose where to host your DNS.

Email GDS the name server information before your beta assessment so they can request the delegation as soon as you’ve passed. Send the information to govuk-enquiries@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk.

You must only advertise the URL (or short URL) for your start point on GOV.UK - and only once it’s been agreed.

You must never advertise any other URL for your service anywhere - this is because your GOV.UK start point includes the information a user needs to complete the service.

After your beta assessment

You can begin using your service domain once you’ve passed your beta assessment.

To do this, you’ll need to contact govuk-enquiries@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk to:

Setting up delegation can take up to 5 working days. Once it’s done, use DNS to perform domain validation and manage SSL certificates for your service.

DNS is often a single point of failure. Consider using multiple suppliers - that way, if one ever goes down, people will still be able to find your service.

You can get operations support if you have an issue that can’t be resolved with your DNS supplier.

You may also find these guides useful:

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Design community
Last update:

Slightly tweaked process for performing domain validation.

  1. Guidance first published