Public Suffix List/Uses

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This page attempts to list all the things people are using the Public Suffix List for. For each use, it also attempts to outline some caveats with using the PSL for that purpose.

In this document, the "registered domain" is the part of a domain consisting of the public suffix plus one additional label. ("Registered" can also be "Registerable" if the domain is not yet registered; we ignore this for linguistic convenience.)

The PSL has two sections, the ICANN area and the PRIVATE area, delimited by structured comments. Most applications use both areas without distinction; if an application uses only one or the other, that is noted where known. The PRIVATE area exists because some registered domain owners wish to delegate subdomains to mutually-untrusting parties, and find that being added to the PSL gives their solution more favourable security properties. Entries in this part of the PSL come from many pseudo-NICs such as CentralNIC (owner of e.g. and, and companies such as Amazon, Google, GitHub, Heroku, Microsoft and Red Hat, who provide cloud services. They are segregated into a different part of the PSL because some applications need to distinguish between the two types.

Same Origin Policy

The Same Origin Policy is the bedrock of the browser security model. It defines which domain names trust one another and which do not. This use case was the original one for which the PSL was created.


Like all uses of the PSL, using an out-of-date PSL may have negative effects. The PSL algorithm says that if the TLD of a domain name does not appear at all in the PSL, you should fall back on the default "*" rule - i.e. treat that TLD like .com or .net, where registrations happen directly below the root. This provides some measure of forward compatibility.

Browser Uses

Browsers use these divisions for:


All browsers restrict the domains for which cookies can be set, to avoid "supercookies" being set for e.g. "", which would allow sites to track users across multiple domains owned by different entities.


The document.domain attribute is used to enable pages on different hosts of a domain to access each others' DOMs. All browsers restrict the values to which the document.domain property can be set, to maintain the same origin policy.

Chrome implements of a multi-process architecture involving a singular "browser" process and multiple "renderer" processes. It uses the PSL (via document.domain) to identify pages that cannot script each other, helping to determine when to create a new renderer process.

It does not make a distinction between private domains and ICANN-delegated domains.


The IsSearchProviderInstalled() method uses Public Suffix.


Firefox, Chrome and IE all highlight the registered domain within the UI when displaying a page address.

General UI

Both Firefox and Chrome make use of the PSL to order entries within their interfaces for managing cookies and local data.

Safe Browsing

Chrome uses the PSL to restrict Safe Browsing exceptions to registered domains. That is, if a domain is believed to have hosted malware/phishing, and a user chooses to proceed, that exception is remembered at the level of a registered domain.

For this purpose, PRIVATE domains are ignored, although this may change in the future.


Chrome implements Shared Dictionary Compression over HTTP (SDCH) [1]. It uses the PSL to determine whether or not a given dictionary may be shared between services.

It does not make a distinction between private domains and ICANN-delegated domains.


Firefox uses the registered domain to sort entries in the Download Manager.

DOM Storage Manager and Permissions

Firefox and IE set quotas in the DOM Storage Manager, and set other site-based permissions, based on registered domain.


  • In login prompts in Firefox, the displayed domain name is stripped back to the registered domain.
  • It is possible to configure Firefox such that whether a Referer is sent can depend on whether the two sites are in the same registered domain.
  • Providers are distinguished from each other in the Firefox Social API via registered domain.
  • IE does Compatibility View on a per-registered-domain basis.

Other Uses


The DMARC draft RFC uses the PSL to determine the "organizational domain". This is where the DMARC algorithm looks for DNS records relating to DMARC. (This usage should probably exclude the PRIVATE area, but the draft does not currently say that it should.)

Determining Valid Domains

Some browsers and applications use the PSL for determining whether a particular string is "name-shaped" - i.e. whether it is, or could be, a domain that someone could navigate to. There are speed and privacy (and perhaps other) advantages in being able to do this with some degree of accuracy without needing to consult the DNS.


  • For a number of reasons, the PSL may say something is name-shaped when it is not actually a domain anyone can navigate to. In other words, you will get false positives. For example, until recently, the PSL had a rule "*.il", even though the * represented only about a dozen possibilities. So "" would have passed this check, but would not be a navigable domain name.
  • New gTLDs are constantly being added to the DNS as part of the ICANN process, and it takes time for them to make it into the PSL and for copies of the PSL to be updated. Using the PSL this way risks therefore making some new gTLDs unnavigable, or have a degraded user experience, for a period of time after they are registered. In other words, you will get false negatives. For example, if there is a new gTLD ".cheese", and a user attempts to navigate to "edam.cheese" in software which has an outdated PSL, the navigation will not be possible as the software will think "edam.cheese" is not "name-shaped".

It is therefore strongly recommended that if you use the PSL for this purpose, you a) make sure it is regularly updated in all deployed software, and b) design the software to be tolerant to false positives.

Specific Uses

Google Chrome's URL Bar

Chrome uses a combined search and URL bar. "name-shaped" queries - such as - query the PSL to determine whether the entered text is likely a search or a domain name. A term of "com" will be treated as a search for the phrase "com", because the term does not resolve to a registered domain (as it is just a public suffix). A term for "" is treated as a navigation, because it does contain a registered domain ("")

For this purpose, PRIVATE domains are ignored, permitting navigation to domains like "", which are listed within the private section.

Determining Valid Wildcard Certificates

Some standards, browsers and applications use the PSL to give guidance on whether a particular wildcard certificate should be permitted or not.


There is a risk of false negatives here with the new gTLDs. For example, "amazon" is a new gTLD in the main ICANN section. Amazon, Inc. is perfectly entitled to have a "*.amazon" wildcard certificate if they want one. However, rejecting "*.<psl>" wildcards unilaterally would cause this certificate to be rejected. This is why the CAB Forum Baseline Requirements do not forbid issuance of a certificate for "*.<psl>", but instead require the CA to be particularly diligent.

Specific Uses

CAB Forum Baseline Requirements

The CAB Forum Baseline Requirements, in section 11.1.3, require that CAs, before issuing a wildcard certificate, make sure that such a certificate is not for *.public.suffix, e.g. * (Or, that the entity actually owns the entirety of the public suffix, which could be true for suffixes in the PRIVATE area and some new gTLDs).

Google Chrome

Chrome will reject wildcard certificates (* if is a Public Suffix.

For this purpose, PRIVATE domains are ignored, permitting certificates for domains like "*"