Why use a .com domain for your brand, when you can use your brand as your internet domain? A brand TLD is an internet domain of your own that matches your brand name. Global corporations such as BMW, Philips and Wolters Kluwer already have brand TLDs. A new window for creating these special TLDs is expected to open in 2021. And, with roots in the Netherlands and a wealth of know-how, SIDN can help you apply for and run your domain. Does your brand deserve its own domain? Get in touch for advice.

More information about brand TLDs:

What's a brand TLD?

TLD is short for top-level domain: the part of a domain name that comes after the last dot. TLDs are also known as first-level domains.

First en second level domain

In the Netherlands, the best-known TLDs are .com and .nl. Over the years, the scope for creating your own TLD has increased considerably. Since 2012, it's been possible to have a brand TLD: a TLD that matches your brand name or trading name. At the moment, there are only a few hundred brand TLDs worldwide, all owned by global players, such as Nike, Apple, Hitachi and Samsung. Dutch corporations with brand TLDs include Wolters Kluwer and Philips. However, brand TLDs aren't only for blue-chip companies: the Dutch national police force has the .politie TLD, for example. UNICEF has a brand TLD as well.

What can a brand TLD do for your brand?

  • Short, catchy and memorable internet addresses, such as A4.audi instead of AudiA4.com

  • Better abuse prevention based on use of your brand TLD by default; users know that downloadable content from publicatie.wolterskluwer can be trusted, for example

  • Easy creation of subdomains, e.g. for individual models, products and services, such as iphone11.apple

  • Increased brand awareness and enhanced brand reputation due to brand visibility on line; consultancy.kpmg always figures high in Google search results, ahead of kpmg-consultancy.com, for instance

What are the brand TLD application criteria?

Brand TLDs are assigned by an independent global organisation called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). You can't apply for a brand TLD any time you like. ICANN defines 'windows': periods of a few months, during which applications can be made. ICANN is currently preparing for a new window, probably in 2021.

ICANN logo

Windows don't come along very often: there can be years between one window and the next. So your company won't want to miss out! The application criteria differ each time, and the criteria for the upcoming window haven't yet been announced. But we think it's safe to assume that applicants will have to satisfy at least the following conditions:

  • You'll need to show that you and your partners have the technical and operational capability to run the domain. That'll mean having the relevant technical expertise and being financially stable.

  • You'll need to demonstrate that you are the brand's rightful owner. The name you're applying to create will also have to be distinctive, so that people don't confuse it with other TLDs (as with .aldi and .audi).

  • ICANN will want you to show that you're committed to fighting abuse linked to domain names in your brand TLD (e.g. phishing, cybercrime).

What does running a brand TLD involve?

For most organisations that want brand TLDs, the activities covered by ICANN's criteria aren't part of their core capabilities. So it's normal to work with a registry service provider (RSP). An RSP is an organisation that's familiar with the domain name world and has the know-how to run the brand TLD for the applicant. For example, SIDN works for the Municipality of Amsterdam as RSP for .amsterdam. Usually, the RSP takes on responsibility for most of the practical activities involved in running the TLD. It doesn't have to be like that, but it's generally much easier that way. After all, most RSPs have a lot of experience running TLDs. The jobs that an RSP typically takes on include:

  • Setting up and managing the technical infrastructure needed for internet users to reach the brand TLD and subdomains via the DNS

  • Handling registration applications and amendments for domain names within the brand TLD, submitted by applicants directly or through nominated intermediaries (e.g. ad agencies)

  • Detecting and tackling demonstrable abuse, e.g. the distribution of malware via a site within the brand TLD

  • Compliance: making sure that everything meets ICANN's requirements and cooperating with ICANN audits

An RSP can also help with the legal, commercial and policy issues linked to the brand TLD. Want to know more? Drop us a line!

What makes SIDN a good partner for your brand TLD?

If you get us to run your brand TLD, you'll have access to comprehensive expertise and resources through our backend registry services. Our systems satisfy all ICANN requirements. We'll also tailor a service package to your needs, with optional extras such as in-depth monitoring, ICANN consultancy and reporting. And, regardless of the package you choose, you'll have unrivalled experience at your disposal. The nuts and bolts:

  • Support with all technical, legal and policy aspects

  • Deployment of the systems used to run .nl, one of the world's most secure networks

  • Access to our extensive distribution network made up of about 1,300 registrars

  • Thirty years of relevant experience at your disposal

Want to know more?

Read about SIDN's registry services or drop a line to our Product Manager Pim Pastoors at pim.pastoors@sidn.nl.

Pim Pastoors, Product Manager SIDN


Pim Pastoors


+31 6 570 454 07



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