Domain name tips

On this page:

Consider how best to direct users to your particular type of information or service

There are several ways to direct users to your information or service, including:

  • registering a new domain name (requires approval of the agency communications manager);
  • creating a sub domain within an existing domain name; and
  • creating a new directory within an existing domain name.

Agency communications managers can provide advice on which of these options is most appropriate for your requirements.

You may prefer to register a separate domain name, eg, if:

  • your information or service has a particularly high profile (eg: Seniors Card);
  • there is a sufficiently distinct and stand-alone organisational unit or concept that requires separate branding, eg;
  • there is a need to present your information or service independently of a parent agency/organisation or topic;
  • a separate domain name will make your information or service significantly easier for users to locate;
  • the volume of information for the website is of an appropriate quantity to require a separate domain name; or
  • your information or service will have a lifespan of more than twelve months.
  • Domain names associated with projects, business units, programs, or organisations with a lifespan of less than twelve months, should only be approved where a need for an Internet presence and identity distinct from the main agency/organisation website can be rigorously demonstrated.

You may prefer to use a sub domain, eg, within an existing domain name if:

  • your information or service is short term, eg a six-month project;
  • you would like to avoid the administrative burden of managing a separate domain name; or
  • it is important to present your information or service within the context of a topic or “brand” name.

A directory address should be used, eg, within an existing domain name, if:

  • your information or service is short term, eg a six-month project;
  • your target audience relate the subject matter to agency business (or can be educated to do so);
  • your target audience is largely internal to government, or inter-governmental (please seek advice from your agency communications manager);
  • you would like to avoid the administrative burden of managing a separate domain name; or
  • the information or service should be presented within the context of an agency/organisation.
  • In most cases, agency information (from sections and programs that are direct services of the agency) will be published to the respective agency domain directory structure.

Due to hosting arrangements it may not be possible to have a directory structure for all agency/organisation websites. You will need to check with the web manager of the domain name if this is possible for your preferred domain.  The directory structure can usually only be set up if the online information or service is located on the same web server.

Consider how best to present your information or service in a domain name format

Domain names are intended to be easy-to-memorise addresses that direct to online information or services.

In order to translate the name of an agency/organisation, project, service or function into the domain name format, preference should always be given to generic names of functions, eg police, treasury etc. However, abbreviations, acronyms or keywords may be required for multifunctional agencies.

In short, domain names must be:

  • logical and intuitive
  • short and simple
  • easy to say
  • easy to memorise
  • easy to type and spell
  • only in lowercase
  • avoid duplicate letters between words
  • stable, ie no need to change if the structure of the agency/organisation changes.

See the naming standards for more guidance on which domain name to choose.

Website owners may make their own decisions about naming files and folders (pages) within the allocated URL.

Where appropriate, the path to a file following the web address should be service/program based, eg:

The following are examples of different naming formats.

Example 1: Full name



  • An exact match to the function
  • An exact match to other forms of branding, such as letterhead or signage


  • Likely to contain several words, and therefore not easily read or typed, and not easily remembered


  • Only use if the full name is short and easily remembered

Example 2: Acronym



  • Short
  • Easy to read and type


  • May not be meaningful to users


Example 3: Abbreviation

Sample: or


  • Short


  • May not be meaningful to users


  • Only use if the abbreviation is well-known by users

Example 4: Key word



  • Short
  • Easy to read and type
  • Usually meaningful to users
  • Memorable


  • In some instances, may be too generic, and mislead users about the type of information being provided. For example, users might assume a domain name such as links to all information provided by government about that topic, when in fact it only directs to information provided by a single agency/organisation or project.


  • Suitable in most cases, but be careful to make sure the domain name represents the nature of the information being provided

Consider how government changes might impact your domain name

Creating domain names involves balancing meaningful names with simplicity, while considering the impact of changes to government.

Try to select domain names that are less likely to be impacted by government changes.

Generally, acronyms and full names that represent a collection of areas, eg infrastructure, energy, resources -, are more likely to be impacted than single keywords, eg

Using non-government domain names

Government agencies should only register outside of the domain in the following instances:

  • If there is a compelling commercial business reason where organisations may not be readily recognised as government bodies, eg tourism sites -
  • In order to protect against the use or misuse of government brands in other domain spaces. Note it would only be necessary for high profile or commercially valuable brands.

If agencies do register outside the domain, they should also register the equivalent.

Additional domain names

Sometimes it may be necessary to register additional domain names for your website, eg as the main URL and as an additional URL.

This has two purposes:

  • It helps people find your website by including terms or names that people might use to search for the site.
  • It prevents other people using URLs that are similar to yours.

A single consistent URL should be promoted in consultation with your agency’s communications manager.

In this case, would be promoted as the main URL, while (and any additional URLs) would not be promoted, but would automatically redirect users to the main URL.

Deleting domain names

Prior to retiring or decommissioning domain names, it is recommended that you:

  • decide whether the domain name will be maintained and redirected, or whether it should be completely decommissioned; and
  • consider any other services that may be reliant on the domain name, including email, file transfer protocol (FTP) and sub domain names.

If the domain name is to be decommissioned, the Administration Contact should request the deletion.

If the domain is to be redirected, ensure that redirection instructions are built into the Domain Name System record.