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  1. Service manual
  2. Technology
  3. Get a domain name

You must contact the Government Digital Service (GDS) to get a domain name, a start page and an end page for your service.

Your domain name is the web address users go to when they need to use your service.

You must only advertise your GOV.UK start page. You must never advertise any other URL for your service anywhere.

Meeting the Digital Service Standard

You need to get a domain name as part of meeting point 6 (evaluate tools and systems).

You’ll have to discuss how you’ve done this in your service assessments.

When to contact GDS

To get a domain name for your service, you should contact GDS as early as possible after your alpha assessment. You’ll be given a domain name after passing your public beta assessment.

Wait until you’re sure what your final beta might look like before you contact GDS.

How to contact GDS

Email to discuss the best name for your domain and the options for your start and end pages.

In your email you should describe:

  • your service
  • who your users are
  • what user needs you will meet

GDS may ask you for more information about your service before they decide on an appropriate domain name for it.

They’ll also agree the start-page URL for your service based on discussions with your service manager, analysis of user behaviour, search referrals and other data.

They’ll give you a domain name that describes the service, not one that mentions the department or agency. For example,

Check where you’ll host your DNS

Once you’ve agreed a domain name for your service with GDS, you need to choose a Domain Name System (DNS). A DNS provider is an internet service that will translate your domain name into an IP address.

Your provider will give you a DNS name server which GDS connects to your domain name.

You should choose a supplier while building your beta. You can search for DNS suppliers using the Digital Marketplace.

If you don’t know which supplier to choose, ask for advice from technical staff in your team or organisation.

Get control of your domain

When you’ve got a domain name from GDS, contact GDS and give them details of your DNS name server. This allows GDS to connect the name to your service.

After you contact GDS, they’ll delegate the domain name to those name servers.

This can take at least 5 working days.

Your team will then be able to manage where the domain name points to.

If you’re using Dyn

The main DNS domain is currently managed by a platform run by a supplier called Dyn.

If you want to use a DNS product offered by Dyn, you must give GDS as much notice as possible. This is because GDS has to give extra authorisation to Dyn in order to delegate service domains. This can take some time and you may have to wait longer than 5 days to get control of your domain.

Set up subdomains

Once you have a domain name, you should set up subdomains.

Find out more about managing domain names.

Sending emails from your domain name

If you’re planning to send emails from your domain name, you must make sure your users can receive your emails and are protected from spam.

You must follow the guidance on how to email your users.

If you’re not going to send emails from your domain, you must follow the GDS guidance on keeping your domain protected from spoofing attacks.

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Guidance first published