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The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

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The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Moving to .gov

If you’re moving to .gov from another top-level domain, like .com or .us, here are some best practices to help you plan that transition.

Organizations at all levels of government (federal, state, local) are eligible for .gov domains. Given this diversity of organizations, the guidance below is general and meant to help you get started.

Checklist for moving to .gov

Read more about each of these steps below.

Start the conversation with your technical and communications staff

Identify who you’ll work with from your IT team (e.g., folks responsible for DNS, web, network, information security), public affairs (people responsible for public communication online, in print, or elsewhere), and administrative staff. Think about the internal approvals you’ll need for a new .gov domain.

Come up with .gov domain options that meet our naming requirements

We’ll try to give you your preferred domain. We’ll make sure your request meets our requirements. We’ll work with you to find the best domain for your organization.

Your domain name must:

  • Be available
  • Relate to your organization’s name, location, and/or services
  • Be clear to the general public. Your domain name must not be easily confused with other organizations.

Names that uniquely apply to your organization are likely to be approved over names that could also apply to other organizations.

Requests for your organization’s initials or an abbreviated name might not be approved, but we encourage you to request the name you want.

Read more about our domain name requirements.

Get ready to complete the .gov domain request form

Make sure you have all the information you need to complete the .gov domain request form). We’ll ask you about your organization and the .gov domain you want. You’ll need to have a Login.gov account to request a .gov domain.

Identify other technical upgrades to make during this transition

Many organizations take advantage of a domain change to upgrade certain infrastructure and/or move to the cloud. Consider what your needs and opportunities are. Review these best practices for budgeting and overseeing technology projects.

Plan to keep your current domain

Consider maintaining the registration of your current non-.gov domain. You don’t want your old domain to fall into the wrong hands.

Find DNS hosting services

We don’t provide Domain Name System (DNS) hosting services. You’ll need to operate or manage authoritative DNS for your domain. If you’re coming from a non-.gov domain, this may be a new requirement. You can manage your own DNS servers or host your domain with a third party. “DNS hosting” is a good search term to find providers. Options range in price but are typically a few dollars per month. Some local internet service providers (ISPs) or technology service providers may offer DNS hosting.

Audit your existing web content

Consider using this transition as an opportunity to audit your web content. Archive content that is no longer relevant or update it to make it current.

Review your site for mentions of your old domain name. Include images in your content audit. Learn more about content audits.

Plan to redirect traffic from your old domain to your new one

Use HTTP redirects from your old domain to your new domain so that links to your old site will be directed to your new online home. Use HTTP 302s for testing, and HTTP 301s to signal a permanent move to search engines.

If you’re using your old domain for web redirects, plan to keep the TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificate current for your older domain.

Plan to move your email to .gov

Moving your email to .gov depends on your current infrastructure or provider, but most mail services support aliases so that mail sent to a prior domain name is still delivered. Search the documentation of your mail server/provider along with “custom domain.”

If you’re currently using a free email address (@gmail.com, @outlook.com, @icloud.com, @yahoo.com), you’ll need to pay for an email service or manage your own email servers in order to use a .gov domain for email.

Email addresses used in account management

Organizations often use email addresses (which include a domain name) as unique identifiers for accounts. This can occur on internal systems (like a directory service) or with external services (like software-as-a-service accounts). Review the documentation for your software to evaluate the steps needed to use different email addresses.

Get familiar with domain security best practices

Each of the above topics has its own security impact. Follow our domain security best practices to securely manage your domain.

Develop a communications plan

Many government organizations share the fact that they’ve transitioned to a .gov domain name via press release and/or social media. These events regularly get picked up online or in traditional media outlets, amplifying your message.

Here are some examples of government organizations communicating publicly about their move to .gov.

Press releases

Social media

Online and offline branding

Domain names show up in more places than just online. They’re printed on paper products (like letterhead or business cards), vehicles (painted on or included on license plates), or public signage (advertising, road signs). Create a timeline for reviewing and updating this content.

Let us know when you move to .gov

If you announce your transition on social media, tag us. We’re CISA on Facebook and @cisagov on LinkedIn, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). We’d love to help you get the word out!

Find out if you’re eligible for financial assistance

You might be eligible for financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help you move to .gov.

Contact your State Administrative Agency representative to ask about funding as part of the Homeland Security Grant Program.

Learn about CISA’s grants for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments.

Let us know how it goes

How did your transition to .gov go? Is there anything we missed in this list of things to think about? Did something work well in your organization that we didn’t mention? Let us know or suggest an edit to this page.

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