.US Domain Names – Born in the USA

Lee Hodgson

Quiz question — what’s the domain name for the United States? Is it .com perhaps? You’d be forgiven for thinking so, as practically all US-based commercial Web sites use the .com domain. But in actual fact, .com is known as a ‘generic top-level domain’ (gTLD); ‘generic’ because parties worldwide can register .com domains without restriction. Other examples of gTLDs are .net and .org.

What’s a .US?

So if it isn’t .com then what is it? The answer is the almost unheard of .us domain. This is the official two-letter ‘country code top-level domain’ (ccTLD) for the USA.

Every country in the world has a two-letter domain allocated to it. In Germany, it’s .de. In the UK, it’s .uk, and in Japan, .jp. These country code domains are all incredibly popular in their own countries. In fact, for most European and Asian countries, the country code domain is much more popular than generic domains such as .com. So why doesn’t the same apply to .us in America?

The answer is that until now, .us has been a ‘restricted’ domain, and has only been available in the ‘locality space’ at the third level and above.

So for instance, it was possible to register www.county.arlington.va.us but not myname.us or mycompany.us. In other words, nobody could register the .us domain they wanted. Because of the restricted nature of the .us domain, American companies, organizations, and individuals naturally turned elsewhere — in particular to the .com generic top-level domain. So .com became the de facto country code domain name for America.

But all that has now changed. ICANN wisely decided to open up the .us name space, and make it available for people to register second-level domains, or as they’re better known, domain names.

Who Can Register a .US?

So just who can register a .us domain name? Here is what NeuStar, the official .us registrar have to say about it:

"Any U.S. citizen or resident, as well as any business or organization, including federal, state, and local government with a bona fide presence in the United States can register a .US domain name. One of the following three eligibility requirements must be met:

1) A natural person (i) who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States of America or any of its possessions or territories or (ii) whose primary place of domicile is in the United States of America or any of its possessions, or

2) Any entity or organization that is incorporated within one of the fifty (50) U.S. states, the District of Columbia, or any of the United States possessions or territories or (ii) organized or otherwise constituted under the laws of a state of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, or any of its possessions or territories, or

3) An entity or organization (including federal, state, or local government of the United States, or a political subdivision thereof) that has a bona fide presence in the United States. See Section B.3.1 of the NeuStar proposal to the Department of Commerce for details concerning what constitutes a "bona fide presence."

So if you’re:

  • American,
  • resident in America,
  • domiciled in America,
  • have your business incorporated in America, or /# linefeed #
  • your organization has a ‘bona fide presence’ in America,

then you are eligible to register one or more .us domains.

Registrars will require registrants to indicate they are eligible to register .us domains at the time of registration. If any names are registered by parties not eligible, these can be challenged post-registration by activating a dispute policy.

When Can I Register a .US?

On the 24th April 2002, at precisely 10.00 a.m. Eastern Time, live registrations in the .us domain space will be taken for the very first time, on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Why Should I Register a .US?

Haven’t we all had enough of new domain names? Surely there are enough to go around now? Yes and no. There are plenty of generic top-level domains to choose from, especially with the recent additions of .biz and .info. But .us is unique and importantly at this time, uniquely American.

It is the country code domain for the United States. Given the understandable recent rise in the levels of patriotism in the States, all the indicators are that .us will prove extremely popular to American people and organizations. If you want a domain name that says you were ‘Born in the USA’, go and register a .us domain name today.