Top-level domains (TLDs) are at the top of the Domain Name System (DNS), which is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Domain names allow us to find a given location on the Internet. There are two types of TLDs: generic TLDs (gTLDs), such as .com, .net and .org, and country code TLDs (ccTLDs), designating countries and territories, such as .br for Brazil and .ua for Ukraine. For many years, the number of gTLDs was limited to 22.

In 2012, ICANN launched the New gTLD Program, opening up the DNS beyond this number. Under the new programme, any organisation could apply for a new gTLD, as long as it complied with a series of criteria established by ICANN.

Since then, the DNS has expanded to more than 1200 gTLDs. Currently, the programme is under continuous review and there is ongoing work on preparing new gTLD rounds.

New gTLDs cloud


How a new gTLD round could look like

In June 2019, ICANN published an informational paper on the organisation’s readiness to support future rounds of new gTLDs. The document outlines a series of working assumptions used by ICANN in preparing for a subsequent round of new gTLDs.

Main elements
  • ICANN intends to create new operational infrastructure (people, processes, systems) to support the New gTLD Program in a reliable, predictable, and sustainable manner.
  • The opening of the next application window for new gTLDs will be dependent on the adoption, by the ICANN Board, of the policy recommendations from the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Working Group.
  • Several assumptions that: (1) the application volume, in the next round, will be roughly the same as in the 2012 round: approximately 2 000 applications; (2) there will be no changes to the 1 000 TLDs/year maximum delegation rate; (3) for ongoing subsequent procedures, ICANN assumes an annual application window of one to three months in duration, with subsequent application windows opening during the same timeframe, once per calendar year.
  • There will be changes to the programme implementation, based on the preliminary recommendations of the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Working Group.
  • The programme will continue to operate on a cost-recovery basis; it will be funded from application fees collected.