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ICANN Publishes Documents Regarding the Implementation of the Procedure for Release of Two-Character Labels

LOS ANGELES - 22 January 2019 – Today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) org published two documents regarding ICANN organization’s procedure for the release of two-character labels at the second level. These documents were prepared to provide additional background information for an ongoing discussion between the ICANN Board and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) regarding the GAC’s advice on two-character country codes at the second-level, including its most recent advice in the GAC Barcelona Communiqué.

The first document details the specific steps taken by the ICANN org leading up to the release of two-character labels in November 2016. This document also responds to specific questions raised by the GAC regarding the release.

Click here to download the ICANN Organization Memo on the Implementation of the Procedure for Release of Two-Character Labels and Standard Measures to Avoid Confusion with Corresponding Country Codes [PDF, 395 KB]

The second document is a historical overview of two-character labels at the second level. The overview includes actions taken by both the ICANN Board and org based on GAC Advice. The document also includes an appendix of communications between the ICANN Board, org and the GAC during the development of the procedure for release of two-character labels.

Click here to download the Historical Overview of Events Regarding Two-Character Labels at the Second Level in the New gTLD Namespace [PDF, 500 KB]

Both documents are also available on the Two-Character ASCII Labels information page.

During its meeting scheduled in Los Angeles later this week, from 26 - 27 January 2019,
the ICANN Board plans to formally respond to the GAC advice contained in the Barcelona Communiqué via the established GAC Advice Consideration Process.


On 8 November 2016, the ICANN Board approved a resolution directing the ICANN org to authorize the release of reserved two-character labels at the second level. The release was subject to standard measures to avoid confusion with corresponding country codes. The ICANN org implemented the standard framework of measures in December 2016.

On 25 October 2018, the GAC issued consensus advice in its Barcelona Communiqué regarding two-character country codes at the second level. The GAC advised the ICANN Board to explain in writing how and why it considered it is implementing GAC advice on the release of country codes at the second level. The GAC also advised the ICANN Board to explain in writing whether the Board’s Resolution of 8 November 2016 is compatible with GAC advice or whether it constitutes a rejection of GAC advice.


ICANN’s mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.

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Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."