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ICANN Universal Acceptance Update: Support for Internationalized Email Addresses

18 January 2024
By Andre Abed

ICANN has been working diligently to make all of its systems fully Universal Acceptance-ready and recently achieved a significant milestone: ICANN staff can now send emails to and receive emails from internationalized email addresses.

The accomplishment required ICANN's Engineering and Information Technology team to work closely with its technology partners to evaluate, upgrade, and validate for Universal Acceptance (UA) compatibility with ICANN's email infrastructure. This effort also included advising our technology partners on the value and importance of Email Address Internationalization (EAI) for the global Internet community. This led to a commitment of our partners to support UA and EAI in their own products and services.

ICANN also supports short and long ASCII top-level domains in all systems, as well as ASCII-based Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) in Punycode (A-label) in public-facing systems. In addition, IDNs in Unicode (U-label) work in ICANN's public-facing systems.

Work is ongoing to ensure all pertinent ICANN internal systems are fully UA-ready. Much of this effort includes collaborating with third-party vendors to update their services. In the broader scope of the UA program, ICANN's priority is to support UA in community-facing services, including ICANN.org, ICANN Account, and the Centralized Zone Data Service, to name a few.

IDNs and UA continue to be a strategic focus for the ICANN organization (org). They are included in the ICANN Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021–2025 and the CEO's FY24 goals. The org's UA and IDN programs are dedicated to carrying out and managing related work, while a cross-functional IDN and UA Steering Committee ensures ICANN org-wide focus and strategy. 

We will share additional updates on our UA-readiness progress in the coming months.

Background Information: Why UA is Important

The Domain Name System (DNS) has expanded dramatically in recent years with the addition of generic top-level domains, including those in different languages and scripts, also known as IDNs. Domain names, including IDNs, play a crucial role in providing choice and making the Internet more accessible and multilingual for global users around the world. Being able to use a domain name and email address in the script and language of one's choice, gives users the ability to experience the full social and economic power of the Internet.

But while the DNS has changed, the checks used by many software applications to validate and process domain names and email addresses have not been updated. Many Internet-enabled systems don't recognize or appropriately process new domain names or internationalized email addresses. That is why ICANN org is committed to supporting and achieving UA. UA is a technical necessity that ensures all valid domain names and email addresses, regardless of script, language, or character length, can be equally used by all Internet-enabled applications, devices, and systems.

For more on UA and IDNs, visit https://icann.org/ua and https://icann.org/idn. ICANN will also be providing updates on UA and IDNs during the ICANN79 Prep Week. Regularly check the ICANN79 meeting page for updates.


Andre Abed

Andre Abed

VP, Relationship & Delivery Management and Interim Head of Engineering and IT