Requirements for the registration and use of .gov domains in the federal government

Understand the policy framework: DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act and OMB Memo M-23-10

What is the DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act?

The DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act, was signed into law in December 2020 as part of the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

In February 2023, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued M-23-10, The Registration and Use of .gov Domains in the Federal Government (PDF, 96 KB, 3 pages). This memo provides guidance on the acceptable use and registration of internet domain names.

In part, this memo provides policy guidance to help executive branch agencies understand the uses of a .gov domain and how to register or renew a .gov domain. The law and policy guidance collectively establish a framework for maintaining registered domains.

Why is it important?

The U.S. federal government uses government domains to indicate official information, communications, and services. A .gov or .mil domain increases the security, trust, and accountability of a government website, while ensuring the public can easily identify official government information.

Public trust in the government websites is contingent on clear and consistent use of .gov and .mil domains. A good government domain name should be memorable for the public, concise, and clearly describe the organization or service.

Federal practitioners should also adopt consistent best practices in digital service delivery to maintain credibility in their agencies’ websites and digital services.

What’s in the law?

The DOTGOV Online Trust in Government Act requires executive branch agencies to adopt a government domain name for federal websites, services, and communications. A .gov domain name is made available to:

  • Federal entities
  • State entities
  • Local entities
  • Tribal entities (federally- and state-recognized tribes)
  • Territory entities
  • Any other publicly-controlled entity

It also requires the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to establish and publish the following requirements for the registration and operation of .gov internet domains:

  • Minimize the risk of .gov domains whose names could mislead or confuse users
  • Establish that .gov internet domains may not be used for commercial or political campaign purposes
  • Ensure that domains are registered and maintained only by authorized individuals
  • Limit the sharing or use of any information obtained through the administration of the .gov internet domain

What does it mean to register and use government domains?

OMB’s policy guidance in M-23-10 requires all executive branch agencies to understand the acceptable use and registration of federal internet domain names.

The use of .gov by agencies

The public assumes that any federal information, services, and communications under the .gov domain are official and authoritative. To maintain this public trust, executive branch agencies are required to use a .gov or .mil domain for official communications, information, publications, delivery of services, design of online content, and development of digital products and tools.

As of April 2021, .gov domains are free of charge to all eligible organizations, including federal agencies. Agencies are required to use government domains (.gov or .mil) for all federal services and communications, continue to report the use of domains, and comply with all .gov requirements.

As a best practice, consider setting up a process to continuously monitor and evaluate your pre-existing domains to ensure they are meeting operational needs and delivering trustworthy, recognizable public services.

How to register or renew a .gov domain

To register or renew a .gov domain, follow the domain name requirements outlined on

You should also review the naming requirements for executive branch federal agencies that were issued along with M-23-10, The Registration and Use of .gov Domains in the Federal Government. All requests must be approved by your Chief Information Officer or head of agency, and include a description of how the domain will be used, its intended audience, why the domain is needed, and how the domain will conform to OMB policies and requirements.

OMB reviews executive branch agency domain requests and may contact the submitting agency with any questions during the process; they may deny a domain request or domain renewal.

Federal agencies can establish .gov domain names for any legitimate purpose and can register domains as needed to most effectively meet their mission. However, .gov domain names are a shared resource across all U.S.-based government organizations, and agencies have a responsibility to carefully consider how potential domains might impact the public and how they interact with government information and services.

Note provides information and resources for federal agencies related to web and digital policies. However, we cannot interpret the statutes or specific requirements.

Contact OMB’s Office of the Federal CIO at with any questions about interpretations of the law and guidance, which collectively establish a framework and the requirements for a digital-first public experience.