Skip to main content

Resources for Country Code Managers

Note: Registrations of domain names within two-letter country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) such as .au, .ca, .jp., and .uk are administered by country-code managers. If you want information about registration requirements in a particular ccTLD, please see the IANA ccTLD database to identify the manager.

ICANN is the global forum for developing policies for coordination of some of the Internet's core technical elements, including the domain-name system (DNS). ICANN operates on the basis of consensus, with affected stakeholders coming together to formulate coordination policies for the Internet's core technical elements in the public interest. The policies are then implemented by the agreement of the operators of the core elements, including gTLD registry operators and sponsors, ccTLD managers, regional Internet (IP address) registries, and root-nameserver operators.

Traditionally, the agreement to implement coordinated policies for the Internet has been informal. As the Internet has spread throughout the world and grown in commercial importance, however, operators and users of the Internet have concluded that a more formal set of written agreements should be established. One of ICANN's activities is to work with the other organizations involved in the Internet's technical coordination to formally document their participatory role within the ICANN process and their commitments to implement the policies that result. These have included agreements with Network Solutions (now VeriSign), which operates the .com and .net top-level domains; the companies responsible for operating the new, "unsponsored" TLDs (.biz, .info, and .name); the organizations sponsoring the "sponsored" TLDs (.aero, .coop, and .museum); Public Interest Registry, which operates the .org top-level domains; and over 150 ICANN-accredited registrars; the regional Internet registries; and the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Since 2000, ICANN has also been working with managers of ccTLDs (the two-letter TLDs that have been established for countries and some territories) to document their relationship with ICANN. These relationships are more complex, because of the varying circumstances (in terms of type of organization, policies followed, economics, language, culture, legal environment, and relations with governments) of different ccTLDs and the organizations that operate them. An additional factor to be addressed is the role, recognized in the June 1998 U.S. Government White Paper, that national governments have in "manag[ing] or establish[ing] policy for their own ccTLDs."

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."