Why does the “common name” of my SSL certificate show a different domain name than mine?

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Technically advanced users who view the details of their Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate sometimes ask why the “common name” of the certificate doesn’t match the domain name of their website.

For example, if your domain name is example.com, you might be surprised to examine the certificate in the Chrome browser and see that the “common name” of the certificate is “example.org” or another domain name, like this:

SSL certificate Common Name

This is normal with modern certificates that are valid for multiple domain names. The “common name” only shows one of many domain names; you should instead scroll down and look at the “Subject Alternative Names” of the certificate, which will include example.com (probably among others):

SSL certificate Subject Alternative Names

This difference is purely cosmetic with modern browsers — it does not affect how they work, and doesn’t indicate a problem.

If the cosmetic difference bothers you, you can get a non-shared SSL certificate (where the common name always matches your domain name and the certificate does not include any other domain names) by ordering a dedicated IP address for your site.