Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Frequently Asked Questions

IDN ccTLDs by Country

Egypt: English | العربية

Russia: English | Русский

GENERAL

IDN TABLES AND VARIANTS

REGISTRATION POLICIES

AVAILABLE NAMES AND LANGUAGES


GENERAL

What is a ccTLD?

Historically, country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) have been two-letter domains, such as .uk (United Kingdom), .de (Germany) and .jp (Japan), derived from the ISO 3166-1 standard for coding countries and territories. ccTLDs are domains that were originally designed for use by Internet communities in countries and territories.

What is an IDN?

IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names) are domain names that include characters other than the letters of the basic Latin alphabet (the 26 letters "a-z"), numbers 0-9, and hyphen "-". This enables domain names expressed in languages other than those based on the Latin script. Such domain names could contain characters with diacritical marks as required by many European languages, or characters from non-Latin scripts (for example, Arabic or Chinese).

What is an IDN ccTLD?

An IDN ccTLD is a top-level domain designated for use by a country or territory Internet community and expressed in letters other than those of the basic Latin alphabet (i.e., as an Internationalized Domain Name (IDN)). ICANN's Fast Track Process will allow IDNs to be used for Internet extensions representing a country or territory name. The new development is that instead of a two-letter country code in Latin characters, the IDN ccTLD can use characters from the country or territory's official language, i.e. ".countryname".

What is the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process?

The IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process is a method by which the Internet communities that are ready to do so can obtain new internationalized country code top-level domains (IDN ccTLDs) representing the name of their country or territory. The IDN ccTLDs are available for countries and territories with official languages based on scripts other than Latin. The process involves (1) request preparation by the country or territory, (2) validation of the request to assign a particular string to represent the country as a top-level domain, and (3) submission and processing of a request to delegate the top-level domain to a qualified sponsoring organization.

When will the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process be available?

The process will open on 16 November 2009 (00:00 UTC), and will remain open until it is superseded by a long-term policy for IDN ccTLDs. That policy is currently under development in the ccNSO.

When will the first IDN ccTLD domain names be available?

The first IDN ccTLDs are expected to start taking registrations from individuals as early as the first half of 2010. The exact launch dates will be dependent on ICANN processing requests in the Fast Track System, including the delegation of the IDN ccTLDs in the DNS root zone, as well as the local managers readiness to open their own processes for domain name registrations.

ICANN will make announcements to that effect as timely as possible. Please feel free to sign up to RSS feed announcements on this topic at: http://www.icann.org/en/resources/idn

Is the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process the only opportunity to get my IDN ccTLD?

In the short term, yes. In the long term, no. The Fast Track process is designed to recognize an immediate need for country-codes in non-Latin scripts in certain countries and territories. The ICANN Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) is developing policy guidance to generally delegate IDN ccTLDs in the future. Once this policy is in place, the Fast Track process will be phased out. See more details at http://ccnso.icann.org

Who can participate in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process?

The Fast Track Process is open to all countries and territories that are listed in the ISO 3166-1 standard, but they must meet a few requirements:

  • The language of the requested top-level domain must be an official language of the country.
  • The request for designation of a string as an IDN ccTLD to represent a particular country or territory can be either the submitted by the government, the proposed IDN ccTLD manager, or a so-called "selected delegate," who must be supported by the government or otherwise relevant local authority.
  • The proposed sponsoring organisation for the top-level domain must meet the standard criteria for ccTLD delegation utilised for existing ccTLDs.

If I have an IDN under an existing TLD, then will I automatically get the same domain name under the IDN version of that TLD?

No, not as a general rule. These new top-level domains are distinct from existing top-level domains. The top-level domain operators in certain countries may choose to synchronize registrations with existing top-level domains; however, that is their choice and is not managed or controlled by ICANN. See also http://blog.icann.org/2008/06/main-idn-user-question-2/ for more details.

What would happen with the IDN ccTLD in one country if multiple parties want to apply as IDN ccTLD operators?

Under the Fast Track Process, the parties must reach agreement. Any independent group would also need to reach appropriate consensus according to the standard IANA procedures for country-code delegation.

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IDN TABLES AND VARIANTS

What is an IDN Table?

An IDN Table is a tabular listing of characters that a TLD registry is making available for domain name registration, along with rules for characters that can be used interchangeably in certain circumstances. A TLD registry can have more than one such table; for example, one per language. The table can be based on a language, a set of languages, or a script in accordance with the IDN Guidelines.

Where can I find an IDN Table?

At the IANA Repository: http://www.iana.org/domains/idn-tables

What is a variant?

Variant characters occur where a single character has two or more representations, which may or may not look visually similar. Variant TLDs are those which contain one or more characters that have variant characters. Allowing variant TLDs may result in user confusion, while excluding them may 'disenfranchise' cultures that use the characters in the excluded TLD strings.

Who identifies the variant TLDs to my domain name?

Each IDN ccTLD manager develops the appropriate IDN Tables that specifies the associated variants. IDN ccTLD managers are strongly encouraged to collaborate when potential confusion might exist with languages of other countries and territories. For example:

  1. Languages or scripts are sometimes shared across geographic boundaries. In some cases this can cause confusion among the users of the corresponding language or script community.
  2. Visual confusion can also exist in some instances between different scripts (for example, Greek, Cyrillic and Latin). An IDN Table with cross-dependencies of identified variant characters can limit this confusion when several scripts are used under a TLD.

Will I get the variants to my domain name for free and automatically?

It depends. There are a variety of ways to deal with variant characters in domain name registrations. ICANN has formed a working group to study the final model for delegation of variant TLDs. The team and subsequent study should determine whether blocking or reservation of variant TLDs is necessary to prevent user confusion. When delegated, the user experience when using variant TLDs must be at least as good as when using TLDs without variants (i.e., determine under what circumstances TLD variants might be delegated and determine responsibilities of TLD operator to whom TLD and variant(s) might be delegated.

In the short term, variant TLDs will not be delegated. Variant TLDs desired by the ccTLD manager will be reserved to IDN TLD manager to avoid inadequate allocation and delegation. Variant TLDs that are not desired by the ccTLD manager will be blocked from future delegation.

Registration rules for variants to domain names under an IDN ccTLD will be decided by the IDN ccTLD manager and the local Internet community. It can in some cases be free of charge as a bundle of domain names for one registration fee. In other cases the IDN ccTLD manager can decide to offer the variant registrations to the original registrant, and many other models can be used. This is not within ICANN control.

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REGISTRATION POLICIES

What are the rules for registering domain names under IDN ccTLDs?

These rules will vary from one country or territory to another. As with existing country-code top-level domains, policies for IDN ccTLDs are set in-country by the local Internet community, using appropriate accountability mechanisms that have been set up by the sponsoring organization of the top-level domain.

Will trademark holders get first registration rights?

That will be determined by each country or territory since IDN ccTLD registration policy is set by each country and not by ICANN.

Who can request an IDN ccTLD?

Governments and administrations of countries and territories listed in the ISO 3166-1 standard, or their designated representatives or operators. Only requests for names using non-Latin characters will be accepted in the Fast Track Process.

How will requests be processed?

Criteria are described in detail in the Final Implementation Plan: http://www.icann.org/en/resources/idn/fast-track

For selection of an appropriate string to represent a country or territory, there is a requirement for government and community support, evidence that the extension is in that country's official language and is a meaningful representation of the country's name, a string stability evaluation on technical matters, and whether the proposed TLD could be confused with an existing TLD.

For selection of an appropriate sponsoring organisation to run the top-level domain, the process follows the existing IANA process for delegation of country-code top-level domains. This involves ensuring a minimum level of competency by the organisation, as well as a number of public interest criteria. After staff review, proposals are put to the ICANN Board of Directors to decide.

Will the requester be obliged to sign a form of agreement with ICANN to be eligible for an IDN ccTLD in the Fast Track process?

When filing an online request to designate a string to represent a country, the requester needs to accept the general terms and conditions in order for the request to proceed. These terms include an IDN ccTLD commitment to adhere to technical standards and the IDN Guidelines. As a subsequent step, the requester is encouraged to enhance the relationship with ICANN, either in a Documentation of Responsibilities jointly signed by the requester and ICANN, or as an exchange of letters between ICANN and the requester, or as an IDN ccTLD agreement.

Is payment of the Fast Track processing fee mandatory for a request to proceed?

ICANN is striving for a fair and balanced cost recovery structure and regards the application fee as an essential element to cover at least the marginal costs inevitably associated with the processing of each Fast Track request. However, as is accepted practice at the international level, ICANN will grant forbearance from this fee and process received requests.

Once the IDN ccTLD is delegated and operational, will the IDN ccTLD manager be expected to make annual contributions following the formula stated by ICANN?

In its striving for a fair and balanced cost recovery structure, ICANN has carefully reviewed the relevant costs and the options to reach a desired balance, resulting in a contribution model that is pre-arranged and recommended by ICANN. Although insufficient to achieve sufficient revenue to recoup ICANN's costs in the short run, this model constitutes a step in that direction, enabling a path to a reasonable balance to be struck in the long run.

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AVAILABLE NAMES AND LANGUAGES

How many of new extensions do you expect to see?

Based on expressions of interest and other indications, it is estimated that around fifty new top-level domains will be requested initially.

How will individuals register domain names in different languages?

The operators of each individual IDN ccTLD will determine the processes and rules around registering second-level names. ICANN does not register individual domain names. Contact details for the IDN ccTLD manager or operators will be added to the existing list of all TLD managers at http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/ after they have successfully completed the Fast Track process and have been delegated.

What languages are going to be available?

This depends on the requests received and their successful evaluations, but based on a previously posted set of expressions of interest, requests are expected from around the world. Expressions of interest received from countries who have agreed to make their intentions public are available at http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-10feb09-en.htm.

Does ICANN plan any further steps on IDNs?

Yes. The country names are a first step for IDNs as top-level domains. Next will be the expansion of the generic top-level domains (existing generic top-level domains include for example: .com, .net, and .org). New generic domains can be IDNs or non-IDNs. The process for introduction of new generic top-level domains is currently under development. In addition, ICANN's policy making body for country code domains, the ccNSO, has started work on the policy formation that will guide the delegation of IDN ccTLDs in the long run, including those for extended Latin script.

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