Applying for a new domain

It is important to understand that the domain is moderated and your request for a new domain can be declined. Eligibility for domains is outlined in the domain name moderation policy and you should read and understand this policy early in the process of selecting your website domain to ensure that you don't have to change your approach later on.

This guide is designed to help you understand the moderation policy and how to avoid having your request for a new domain declined because it falls outside the scope of the policy.

As soon as there may be a requirement for a new website within your agency, you can start discussing your options for domain names with the domain name moderator as they can help you select a suitable domain name. Contact for assistance.

Requests for domains from central government agencies are moderated by the Department of Internal Affairs, requests from local and regional government agencies are moderated by the Association of Local Government Information Managers (ALGIM).

Things to think about before you apply

It is also a good idea to register the and versions of your domain at the same time as you register your domain. Redirect these to your primary domain, to avoid other parties cybersquatting, link farming or phishing using domains that are similar to yours.

You can check the WHOIS record for any domain to see if it has been registered and who it was registered by. For domains in the .nz namespace, use the search tool on the Domain Name Commissioner's website (

Consider developing a policy for domain name management in your organisation that states when a new domain may be required, when to use an existing domain, when to secure a name outside of the domain and how your domains will be managed on an ongoing basis.

Domains for projects and initiatives

Most requests for new domain names are for new projects, and initiatives in government. These are referred to in the domain name moderation policy as generic names and must meet specific requirements in order to be eligible for a domain.

A generic name describes a particular service or function of government. This means that the public can interpret them as belonging to the whole of government. Generic names must be specific enough to avoid confusion with other services and functions within government.

Your organisation will only be eligible for a new generic third level name if the project, campaign or initiative is:

  • Pan-departmental (i.e. more than one agency is involved), and;
  • Of national significance (i.e. not limited to a particular area or region).

If you do not meet these criteria, you should use a fourth level domain for your site (for example or

If you think you qualify for a generic domain name, the next step is to select a name that meets the following requirements:

  • Specific (i.e. unlikely to be confused with other existing or future services across government), and:
  • Descriptive (i.e. the domain name describes the purpose of the site)

For example, if the purpose of the site was to provide compliance information from more than one agency, for a particular audience (e.g. compliance for farms) a name like would not be considered to be specific or descriptive, as many parts of government (both central and local) are responsible for compliance across a much broader range of activities. A name like would be both specific and descriptive in this situation.

Make sure that your domain name and your communications strategy are aligned. Will your domain name work in the media? Alternatively, is the brand you are considering going to fit within the scope of the domain name moderation policy?

Think about your programme domain name and where the programme will be in a year's time. If you create a name around a time bound brand or short term campaign, it is likely that the domain name will become out-of-date and your website a museum of information. If you create a website for each campaign you could end up with multiple out-of-date websites. This doesn't help the public find your information and doesn't reflect well on your organisation.

Examples of good generic domain names:

  • Joint agency initiatives —,
  • Single agency sites with national significance —,

Try to match your domain with what the initiative or programme will be commonly known as:

  • not
  • not

Domains for new organisations and business units

As government agencies merge or new agencies and business units are created, there may be a need for a new domain for the new government entity.  Your choice of domain name should reflect the official name of the new entity and should avoid confusion with other government agencies.

Have a talk to the relevant people in your organisation (often communications or business specialists) about what your entity will be commonly known as.  Will the media refer to the entity by its acronym or an abbreviation of its name? Pick a name that is close to what the entity will be commonly known as, so that people have a chance of guessing your domain name correctly.

A good domain name should reflect your agency's name (in full or acronym).

For example:,,,,

When to use a fourth level domain (sub-domain)

A fourth level domain is a sub-domain on one of your existing domains (for example or It is possible to use a fourth level domain, even if the two websites are completely separate.

You may choose any name at the fourth level of one of your existing domains, providing it will not bring the government into dispute, so this is a good option for single agency brands or initiatives as well as programmes which either have a short life span, or logically fall under a single agency or an existing sector site (such as

Fourth level domains are also a good choice for business units

There are a number of benefits using a fourth level domain:

  • They build on your existing brand, using your profile and the trust that you have developed with your main agency website.
  • Findability of new sub domain sites is strong as they leverage off your existing ranking in search engines.
  • They are a good way to reduce your operational overheads as they carry no extra cost and they are easier to maintain, as you don't have to renew their registration or pay for the non extensions.
  • If you have already registered the non domains for your third level domain, you don't need to worry about securing any additional domains, reducing the risk of other parties cybersquatting, link farming or phishing using domains that are similar to yours.
  • fourth level domains are also more forgiving of transient campaigns and initiatives.

For example: Instead of having multiple sites for different topics, use fourth level domains —,, or etc.

Remember, fourth domains are powerful enough to stand out by themselves and help users to remember the domain and connect the campaign to your organisation. Think of the New Zealand Fire Service campaign —

Registration costs for domains

The registration costs for all domains are paid by the Department of Internal Affairs.  These domains are provided free of charge to government agencies and are renewed automatically every month.

The Department of Internal Affairs also provides free DNS hosting for domains. For further information about this, contact