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ICANN Seeks Interest in IDN ccTLD Fast-Track Process

The IDNC WG recommended that as part of the implementation plan of the IDN ccTLD "fast-track" process a request for information (RFI) is sent out to all territories to gain an understanding of the interest of individual territories to participate in the Fast Track process. Participation in the RFI is not be mandatory to be eligible for an IDN ccTLD under the Fast Track.

In recent weeks the CEO & President of ICANN has written to national governments about the introduction of IDNs at the lop level of the domain name system, and to seek their assistance in forecasting the number of countries and territories interesting in seeking an IDN ccTLD/s through the "fast track: process.

A copy of this correspondence is available below:



Dear ,

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the international not-for-profit organisation which coordinates the technical policies and associated data bases by which 250,000 private and public networks operate as one global, interoperable Internet.  To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer - a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination there would not be one global Internet.

One of the most significant innovations in the Internet since its inception will be the introduction of Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) at the top level of the domain name system. Until now, top level domains (TLD) such as .com, .org and .uk have, for technical reasons, been presented only in the basic Latin alphabet (or script). This is now changing and over the next year ICANN will introduce the capacity to have TLDs in other character sets, such as Arabic and Chinese (to list just two examples). IDNs offer many potential new opportunities and benefits for Internet users of all languages around the world by allowing them to establish and use domains in their native languages and alphabets.

In addition to the technical challenges associated with introducing IDNs at the top level,

ICANN’s policy making bodies have been considering a number of interesting and challenging policy issues, particularly with regard to IDN country-code top level domains (hereafter referred to as an “IDN ccTLD”). ICANN’s policies are developed through bottom-up consensus based processes and in this instance the policy issues will be addressed by ICANN’s country code Names Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) in accordance with Annex B: ccNSO Policy-Development Process (ccPDP) of the ICANN bylaws. Some of the key policy questions being as part of the ccPDP include who is eligible to apply for an IDN ccTLD, how many IDN ccTLDs can a territory apply for (currently countries or territories on the ISO 3166-1 list has one two letter ccTLD) and should a list of possible strings (or names) be mandated. The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN (see which considers and provides advice on the activities of ICANN as they relate to concerns of governments, have been actively involved in this process and contributed to the framing of the policy questions.

It is anticipated that this ccPDP will take in the order of two years to complete and will result in a well-defined policy allowing for the introduction of IDN ccTLDs into the domain name system. However, early consultations and discussions on this issue revealed that there are already some countries and territories who have an urgent need for an IDN ccTLD. As a result, a “fast track” process that does not pre-empt the outcome of the ccPDP, is being developed to address this need. As part of this process, ICANN is attempting to forecast the number of countries and territories interested in seeking an IDN ccTLD/s through the “fast track” process. I would appreciate your assistance with this forecasting by ensuring that the questionnaire which immediately follows this email is completed and returned to or fax +1 310 823 8649 by 17 October 2008. I would recommend that you read the Important Background Information also enclosed with this letter for context.

I would emphasise that the questionnaire is for planning and information purposes only. It is intended that any information you provide will be published on the ICANN website as transparent information will benefit and accelerate the process. However, any indication that you would like all or part of the information treated as confidential will be respected. Responding to the questions is not mandatory to be eligible for an IDN ccTLD under the “fast track” process, nor should a response to the questions be considered a commitment by ICANN to introduce a particular IDN ccTLD.

I will also be writing to [XX] the ccTLD manager for [.XX] about this matter. You may wish to involve them in formulating your responses.

ICANN is committed to the widest possible consultation on policy issues such as this and governments can participate in the process through the GAC. More information on the GAC is available at Further information about ICANN is available on our website and information about IDNs can be found at

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Donna Austin, Manager, Governmental Relations.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to participate in this exercise. I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know that I will be writing to you again in the near future regarding the introduction of new gTLDs.

Yours sincerely,


Paul Twomey

CEO & President

cc. [GAC member]




Important Background Information


Important Background Information

The purpose of the fast-track is to introduce a limited number of non-contentious IDN ccTLDs associated with the ISO 3166-11 list of two-letter country codes in a short timeframe to meet near term demand. It is anticipated that the fast-track will be made available in 2009 and the process will continue until the ICANN policy development process is concluded in the next few years.

To be eligible under the fast-track process:

  • the territory2 should be listed on the ISO 3166-1 list ; and
  • the proposed domain name (or string) should be a meaningful representation of the name of the territory in an official language3 of the territory.
  • the language is represented in a non-Latin script.

For the purposes of the fast-track, a domain name (or string) is considered meaningful if it is in an official language and:

  • is the name of the territory; or
  • a part of the name of the territory that denotes the territory in the language; or
  • a short-form designation for the name of the territory, recognizably denoting it in the indicated language ; and

There is a limit to the length of the domain name as described in the attached documentation but it is likely that all complete country and territory names can be accommodated.

As a first step in the process, it will be the responsibility of the respective territory’s local Internet community4 to, among other things:

  • identify the script and official language to be used in the domain name
  • select the domain name which is a meaningful representation of the territory
  • document the endorsement of the selected domain name, the script and language to be used.
  • appoint or select an IDN ccTLD manager (delegate) or identify the relevant public authority to perform the role until one is selected and prepare documentation on endorsement/support, and other items necessary to enter the Due Diligence stage
  • prepare a language table that describes the list of eligible letters or characters required to express the official language

The above information represents only selected elements of a report on the fast-track process prepared by an ICANN working group. If you believe your territory is interested in participating in the fast track process, but has not been involved in the ICANN policy discussions, it is important that you read the full report which is available at


Questions for Each Territory [PDF, 29K]


1 International Organisation for Standardisation ISO 3166-1, Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions—Part 1: Country Codes (

2 To be read as ‘country and territory’.

3 For the purpose of the fast track an official language is one that has a legal status in the territory or that serves as a language of the administration.

4 Selected delegate (IDN ccTLD manager), relevant public authority and parities served by the IDN ccTLD.

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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."