ICANN Announcements

Read ICANN Announcements to stay informed of the latest policymaking activities, regional events, and more.

Internationalised Domain Names Roadmap — Progress and Future

1 November 2006

ICANN today announced a clear roadmap for the introduction of Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) based on progress so far and future work.

"ICANN has a clear process for the introduction of IDNs. There is much intense work being done by ICANN committees and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). That includes IETF standards, testing and rules discussions. A substantial amount of this work is now coming to fruition" said Dr Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN.

"ICANN expects that these final tests and discussions will reach a resolution by the end of 2007" Dr Twomey said.

"Making changes to the root zone file is ICANN’s responsibility. But this is no simple task. If we get this wrong we could very easily and permanently break the Internet" Dr Twomey said.

The first major step, has been achieved. ICANN’s guidelines and the work of the various registries on second level domains means that many people are already expressing their on-line identification in their own scripts.

"Millions of people in Europe and Asia whose languages do not rely on Roman characters are already reaping the benefits of this work" Dr Twomey said.

"We are now in the final stages of what is a very complex process, that is, putting IDNs to the right of the dot" he said.

ICANN is currently conducting laboratory tests to determine the readiness of the root zone file (the master file of all identifiers) and its associated root servers and resolvers to house or work with IDNs. This process, including the results will be made public on ICANN’s website: www.icann.org

"Depending on the results of laboratory testing, ICANN will then perform live root zone tests. At this time application providers such as browser developers can also participate in the test" Dr Twomey said.

The design of the test is anticipated to be available for public scrutiny in early November, and the live root zone tests will be conducted and ready for analysis by December 2006. All information related to the laboratory testing will be made publicly available at http://www.icann.org.

"If these testing processes are successful, as we expect them to be, we will have the technical solution. But there are also policy issues that are simultaneously in discussion, concerning the creation of new top level domains including IDNs. We need both the technical and the policy issues to be resolved to complete this process" Dr Twomey said.

The policy issues are currently being discussed in a variety of areas within ICANN’s structure that includes end users, technicians, registries and registrars, intellectual property experts, linguistics experts and Governments.

One example is the GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization) which through its constituencies is tasked with the development of policy matters related to the generic top level domains (such as .org and .info). Other constituencies with work underway in this field are:

  • Very importantly, the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee),
  • The ccNSO (country code names supporting organization) and many more.

"ICANN believes that all this testing and discussions will reach a resolution by the end of 2007" Dr Twomey said.

"We are committed to the introduction of IDN top level domains as soon as all these necessary processes are complete" he said.

This will include IDN versions of country code names as well as generic top level domains.

A description of some of ICANNs work on IDNs so far and a roadmap for the way ahead is attached.



20 June 2003 ICANN supported by leading IDN Registries such as cn, info, jp, org, tw, announced the commencement of global deployment of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) in the second level domain.
21 October 2003

Advisory Concerning Registry Requests for Authorization to Offer IDN Registrations

18 February 2004 ICANN approves a temporary set of procedures to improve the mechanisms for transferring IDNs between registrars.
3 June 2004 ICANN Announces IDN Workshop to be held 21 July 2004 in Kuala Lumpur
18 November 2004 ICANN Announces IDN Workshop to be held in Cape Town, South Africa
23 February 2005 ICANN Statement Regarding IDN Homograph Concerns
14 September 2005 Formal Call for Papers Concerning Deployment of Internationalized Top Level Domains
20 September 2005 Draft Revised IDN Guidelines: Public Comment Period
17 October 2005

Draft Revised IDN Guidelines

The French version of the draft revised Guidelines for the Implementation of Internationalized Domain Names ("IDN Guidelines")

31 October 2005

IDN Guideline Revision Update

7 November 2005 Final Proposed Draft IDN Guidelines Posted
14 November 2005 IDN Guidelines Version 2.0 Finalized. The revision focuses on eliminating spoofing between labels
17 November 2005 Implementation of Internationalized Top Level Domains. As previously announced, IDN workshop will be held during the ICANN Vancouver meeting
27 February 2006

IDN Guidelines Posting of Version 2.1

28 May 2006 Policy Issues relating to IDN at the top-level - Preliminary Issues Report. On request from the GNSO Council, ICANN staff prepares a preliminary Issues Report setting out policy issues for introduction of IDNs
23 June 2006 PIR Releases Principles for the Foundation of Top Level IDNs
5 October 2006 ICANN Establishes Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) News Feed
11 October 2006 Review and Recommendations for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)
19 October 2006 IDN Laboratory Testing: ICANN has engaged Autonomica AB to develop, conduct and report the results of laboratory testing . The laboratory technical tests of the viability of internationalized top level levels and the effect they may have on the DNS are being done before insertion of such labels in the root servers. The laboratory test focuses solely on a replicate that is as close as possible to the server software of the various root servers. As such it is not a test that includes the end-user perspective, or a live root test
31 October 2006 IDNA Protocol Review and Proposals for Change

Where We Head Next

  • ICANN laboratory testing of top level IDNs in the root
    • Crucial for DNS resolver reactions
    • Allows Testing of maximum and minimum length IDNs, other variations
  • ICANN testing of IDNs in live Root Zone File
    • Crucial for Browser and other applications reactions
  • Cooperative, multi-stakeholder IDN policy formation
    • Adoption of new gTLD (and IDN) rules
    • Identification of IDN ccTLDs
    • Specification of characters allowed in IDNs
    • Note potential disputes over who has rights to IDN TLDs
  • Implementation and testing of infrastructure and application software
  • Installation of IDN TLDs into root zone file by ICANN

ICANN is also in the process of developing and implementing an outreach plan to insure better coordination among all bodies that are necessary for the implementation of internationalized top level labels into the Internet.

About ICANN:

ICANN is a non-profit organization responsible for coordinating the Internet's systems of unique identifiers, including the systems of domain names and numeric addresses that are used to reach computers on the Internet*. ICANN's mission is to ensure the stable and secure operation of these unique identifier systems, which are vital to the Internet's operation. In addition, ICANN coordinates policy development related to these technical functions through its effective bottom-up consensus model.

(* This includes responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root zone management for the root server system)

Media Contacts:

Paul Levins
Executive Officer and
Vice President Corporate Affairs
+1 310 745 6588

Andrew Robertson, Edelman (London)
Ph: +44 7921 588 770
E: andrew.robertson@edelman.com