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Country and Territory Names

Updated 13 June 2017

Specification 5, Section 4 of the New gTLD Registry Agreement ("Registry Agreement") requires registry operators to reserve certain second-level country and territory names. The Registry Agreement also offers guidelines for registry operators to reach approval for the release of second-level country and territory names.

Based on the Registry Agreement, the February 2015 Singapore Communiqué [PDF, 113 KB] from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), and following the 18 May 2017 ICANN Board Resolution, registry operators:

  • Must continue to reserve the second-level names identified in the Registry Agreement and outlined in the Reserved Country and Territory Names section below.
  • Are approved to release a country or territory name at the second-level only if:
    1. The registry operator has reached an agreement with the applicable government for the release of a particular country or territory name, or
    2. The GAC database shows a country or territory "waives its right to authorize the release of the country or territory name" according to the instructions outlined in the database.

For additional details, please refer to the guidelines below.

Reserved Country and Territory Names

Specification 5, Section 4 of the New gTLD Registry Agreement requires reservation of the country and territory names (including their IDN variants, where applicable) contained in the following internationally recognized lists. The links below are provided for reference and are not intended to alter the identified lists. Registry operators must reserve the names from the lists below and refer to the instructions on this webpage for the release of any country or territory name at the second-level.

  1. The short form (in English) of all country and territory names contained on the ISO 3166-1 list, as updated from time to time, including the European Union, which is exceptionally reserved on the ISO3166-1 list, and its scope extended in August 1999 to any application needing to represent the name European Union: http://www.iso.org/iso/iso-3166-1_decoding_table.html; https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/
  2. The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Technical Reference Manual for the Standardization of Geographical Names, Part III Names of Countries of the World: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/UNGEGN/docs/pubs/UNGEGN tech ref manual_m87_combined.pdf [PDF, 3.5 MB]
  3. The list of United Nations member states in 6 official United Nations languages prepared by the Working Group on Country Names of the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/UNGEGN/docs/10th-uncsgn-docs/econf/E_CONF.101_25_UNGEGN WG Country Names Document.pdf [PDF, 925 KB]

Guidelines on Releasing Country and Territory Names

Specification 5, Section 4 of the base New gTLD Registry Agreement provides two methods by which registry operators may release second-level country and territory names. Following approval under these two options, further consideration by ICANN is not required and registry operators are authorized to release and activate those corresponding country and territory names. The two methods are described below:

  1. By reaching "an agreement with the applicable government(s)."

    Under this first method, registry operators may release a specific country or territory name if they reach agreement with the applicable government. To facilitate government notifications, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advised the ICANN Board in its February 2015 Singapore Communiqué [PDF, 113 KB] that ICANN should work with the GAC to develop a public database, which the GAC established on 30 July 2015.

    The GAC database informs whether an individual GAC member (1) "requires notification for all requests," (2) "does not require any notification," (3) "does not require notification for brand TLDs," or (4) does not indicate a position. Important: the GAC advice from the Singapore Communiqué also states that "the absence of input from a government will not be considered as agreement."

    ICANN encourages registry operators and other interested parties to continue to check the GAC database as it may be updated from time to time. ICANN organization will continue to periodically engage with the GAC to collaborate on possible enhancements to the GAC database to document approvals for the release of country and territory names at the second-level and remind GAC members to update or offer their determination within the GAC database.

  2. By proposing the release of the names "subject to review by the GAC and approval by ICANN."

    These guidelines were updated as a result of the 18 May 2017 ICANN Board Resolution.

    The 18 May 2017 ICANN Board Resolution grants ICANN approvals for registry operators to release country and territory names at the second-level only to the extent the relevant government has indicated its approval in the GAC database. Registry operators must continue to reserve the remaining country and territory names pending the registry operator reaching an agreement with the government or the government updating the GAC database with its approval. Registry operators requesting ICANN's approval to release reserved country and territory names should use the process outlined above and need not submit an RSEP request.

    For proposed Registry Agreement amendments resulting from submitted RSEP requests prior to 18 May 2017: prior to the Board Resolution, registry operators requested the release of country and territory names through the RSEP, which resulted in proposed Registry Agreement amendments. Based on the guidance within the Board Resolution, ICANN will provide notice directly to the registry operators to resolve these requests in line with the Resolution.

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""icann.org"" is not an IDN."