For some weeks in 2012, "arbitrary" gTLDs could be applied for at ICANN:

On June 20, 2011 ICANN's board voted to end most restrictions on the generic top-level domain names (gTLD) from the 22 currently available. Companies and organizations will be able to choose essentially arbitrary top-level Internet domains.

According to a search on https://gtldresult.icann.org/, no one tried to register .onion in the last application period. I’m not sure, but I guess ICANN will open the application system again, sometime.

Does the Tor project plan to register the .onion TLD with ICANN?

Would the Tor project have any privilege to claim this TLD, so that no one else may register it beforehand?

If someone else would register .onion and create domains matching those of hidden services, we’d have two incompatible systems.

(EDIT: see also the related questions "How would a registration of the .onion gtld impact the tor network?" and "What happens when I visit a .onion website".)

  • +1 very interesting question. Are you sure no one tried to register .onion? Perhaps people tried and failed because of such a situation. Oct 9, 2013 at 12:45
  • @GarrettFogerlie: AFAIK they list all applications, not only approved ones. Wikipedia says: 'On "Reveal Day" June 13, 2012, it was announced that ICANN received about 1,930 applications for new gTLD's, 751 of which were contested.' And 1930 is the number of entries on gtldresult.icann.org ("Displaying 1 - 35 of 1930").
    – unor
    Oct 9, 2013 at 12:52
  • 2
    The application price for a gTLD was 185,000 USD according to Wikipedia. Do you think that ~10 % of the 2 million USD year budget of The Tor Project is justifiable for such an investment? What would be the practical use of the .onion domain? As a gateway to the Tor hidden services? IMHO that would be very dangerous because users would be able to access the hidden services by mistake without connecting to the Tor network. IMHO the only good thing would be to reserve the .onion domain so that no-one could use it in the Internet (i.e. outside of the Tor network). Oct 9, 2013 at 18:17
  • @pabouk: The Tor project wouldn’t have to use the TLD. But to be able to "reserve" it, you need to register it first. Otherwise someone else might, and this someone might register domains matching hidden services on purpose.
    – unor
    Oct 10, 2013 at 7:25

3 Answers 3


Always useful to search Tor's bug tracker. They discussed it, see Ticket #6116: apply for .onion gTLD at IANA.

I'd say it's undecided. There are no plans to spend the money for now, but if one of Tor's sponsors wanted them to apply for that domain in future, they'd do it.

I'd speculate, it's pretty unlikely. I guess they would rather talk their sponsors into sponsoring full time develop(s) for that money.


According to RFC 6761 domain names can be reserved for "special use". Currently several people are attempting to reserve .onion, .exit, .i2p, .gnu, and .zkey so that they couldn't become TLDs (as mentioned in this weeks Tor Weekly News)

  • 1
    Thanks for the info! Note that they’ve linked to the wrong mail; it probably should be this mail: Registering special-use domain names of peer-to-peer name systems with IETF.
    – unor
    Nov 13, 2013 at 14:28
  • Oops; they seem to do that a lot, I don't know why (the last two or three times I've tried to reference the weekly newsletter somewhere the thread I've been mentioning was wrong).
    – user5
    Nov 13, 2013 at 15:22

Update 2015

IANA added .onion to the list of Special-Use Domain Names.

This was based on RFC 7686: The ".onion" Special-Use Domain Name.

Tor’s ticket #6116: apply for .onion gTLD at IANA got closed.

Everything’s fine.

  • wonderful news!
    – captncraig
    Dec 30, 2015 at 18:38

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