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Two-Character ASCII Labels

13 December 2016

Specification 5 Section 2 of the Base Registry Agreement requires two-character ASCII labels be reserved at the second level. Over a two-year period, members of the Internet community, the ICANN Organization, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and governments, gTLD registries and others, have worked together to establish a framework permitting the release of these labels. The two-year effort ultimately resulted in multiple authorizations, to release from reservation, the two-character labels. Below are links to the varying authorizations.

Authorization for Release of Non-Letter/Letter Two-Character ASCII Labels

Effective 1 December 2014, ICANN published a general authorization for release of all non-letter/letter two-character ASCII labels for gTLD Registry Operators. No further actions are required from new gTLD Registry Operators that seek to register and activate these two-character ASCII labels. The authorization is subject to compliance with all other terms of the Registry Agreement applicable to each individual TLD.

View Authorization for Release of Non-Letter/Letter Two-Character ASCII Labels [PDF, 142 KB]

Authorization for Release of Letter/Letter Two-Character ASCII Labels

Effective 13 December 2016, ICANN published a general authorization for release of all letter/letter two-character ASCII labels for gTLD Registry Operators not previously authorized by ICANN and not otherwise required to be reserved pursuant to Specification 5, Section 6 of the Registry Agreement. The authorization is subject to 1) implementing the "Measures for Letter/Letter Two-Character ASCII Labels to Avoid Confusion with Corresponding Country Codes" included in Appendix A; and 2) compliance with all other terms of the Registry Agreement.

View Authorization for Release of Letter/Letter Two-Character ASCII Labels [PDF, 378 KB]

Individual Authorizations for Release of Letter/Letter Two-Character ASCII Labels

Prior to 13 December 2016, ICANN had an intermediary process to authorize individual requests, by gTLD, to release letter/letter two-character labels. Effective 13 December 2016, the intermediary process was retired.

For historical information regarding the retired Authorization Process for Release of Two-Character ASCII Labels, please click here.

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."