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IDN TLD Update

Following yesterday’s big news [] with the introduction of the first IDN ccTLDs we thought it was a good time to provide an update to where the Fast Track Process is.

IDN ccTLDs in the DNS root zone:

Egypt: مصر (Egypt)
Saudi Arabia: السعودية (AlSaudiah)
United Arab Emirates: امارات (Emarat)

- in addition Russian Federation: рф (rf) is approved by the ICANN Board for delegation, and related activities are scheduled for the Russian Internet Governance Forum (next week)

A big congratulation to all four countries from the ICANN Team on reaching these goals! We are very much looking forward to seeing how the market will adopt and use these IDN ccTLDs.

Also a big THANK YOU goes out to all of those in the communty that have worked on this for years. That is, those on the ground at the various registries and governments that have worked actively locally; the IDNA protocol authors for outstanding technical volunteer work for years; the policy makers for getting the processes ready; application developers for making sure that IDNs functions in all new versions of the main browsers – and so forth.

IDN ccTLDs ready for TLD Delegation:

The last step in the Fast Track Process is the delegation step. Once requests successfully meet string the evaluation criteria they are eligible to apply for delegation. This is following the same ICANN IANA process as is used for ASCII based ccTLDs.

A total of nine (9) countries/territories are current at this stage. A full list of them, the IDN ccTLDs, and contact details are available here:

The languages include: Chinese, Arabic, Sinhalese, Tamil, and Thai.

IDN ccTLDs under evaluation

In addition to everything listed above, ICANN is currently processing requests from eight (8) countries/territories. As soon as these have completed the String Evaluation” criteria they will be added to the list at:

IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process looking forward

As is clear from all the positive IDN news, the fast Track Process is working really well for many countries. Part of making sure that it works effectively for all users is a review of the process. This is scheduled annually, which would be 16 November 2010. Staff is currently reviewing whether a review should take place sooner.

Also, as stated in the Fast Track Process, variant TLDs cannot be introduced until a method for this is made available. Please see a previous blog post for details on work that still needs to be done on this subject:

We hope to come with a more detailed plan on this soon.

IDN usability

Finally, we continue to receive a lot of questions concerning usability. The IDNs works well. We are working on a blog post with usability examples and explanations, and will publish this shortly.

Meanwhile, if you have experience with the new IDN ccTLDs please send them to us either as comments to this blog post, or directly to me at


    Domain Name System
    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."