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Authorization Process for Release of Two-Character ASCII Labels


As of 13 December 2016, this process has been retired and this page will no longer be updated. For more information regarding the retired process, please click here. For current information regarding Two-Character ASCII Labels, please go here:


Under Specification 5 of the base new gTLD Registry Agreement, registry operators are required to reserve all two-character ASCII labels at the second-level. Concurrently, the Registry Agreement states that the registry operator can request approval from ICANN to release these labels subject to implementation of measures to avoid confusion with the corresponding country codes 1.

In 2014, using the Registry Services Evaluation Process (RSEP), many new gTLD registry operators requested permission from ICANN to release some, or all, of the reserved two-character labels. ICANN processed over 60 RSEP requests supporting the release of a variety of two-character labels for over 200 new gTLDs. To implement the processed requests, ICANN proposed to amend the Registry Agreement and posted the amendments for Public Comment. ICANN batched these amendments for a combined total of five Public Comment periods.

The five Public Comment periods gave governments, trademark owners, registries, country-code operators, the technical community and others the opportunity to comment on the proposed Registry Agreement amendments that would allow the release of two-character labels.

On 8 August 2014, the Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) issued a letter to the ICANN Board alerting the Board that GAC members had raised initial concerns regarding two-character requests. The GAC planned to discuss the issue at ICANN 51 in Los Angeles in October 2014 and requested that the Board take the time plan into consideration when handling the requests. In its response, the Board confirmed that they would consider the GAC’s plan to discuss two-letter requests when handling the request. Shortly after on 30 September 2014, the ICANN Board received correspondence from the gTLD Registry Stakeholder Group (RySG) providing their perspective on the GAC correspondence and the release of two-character labels as second level domains in new gTLDs. Published correspondence can be found on on the Correspondence webpage.

On 16 October 2014, the ICANN Board passed Resolution 2014.10.16.14 directing ICANN staff to "develop and implement an efficient procedure for the release of two-character domains currently required to be reserved in the New gTLD Registry Agreement," while taking into consideration advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) as published in the GAC Los Angeles Communiqué.

Per Board Resolution 2014.10.16.14, ICANN staff developed the Authorization Process for Release of Two-Character ASCII Labels for registries to request the release of two-character ASCII labels at the second-level for registration and activation in the domain name system (DNS) pursuant to Section 2 of Specification 5. The Process was launched on 1 December 2014, and ICANN subsequently received requests for over 300 new gTLDs.

On 26 January 2015, the Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) issued a letter to the ICANN Board concerns on behalf of some GAC members as users of the process. The GAC provided a list of suggestions for possible solutions to address its concerns. The ICANN Board subsequently received feedback from the community regarding the issue, including correspondence from the gTLD Registry Stakeholder Group (RySG) on 5 February 2015.

During ICANN 52 in Singapore, the GAC issued the 11 February 2015 GAC Singapore Communique, and on 12 February 2015, the ICANN Board adopted Board Resolution 2015.02.12.16 to accept the advice from the Communiqué regarding the release of two-letter codes at the second level in gTLDs. The Resolution further directed Staff to revise the Authorization Process for Release of Two-Character ASCII Labels as follows:

  1. Extend the comment period so that all requests undergo 60 days of comment.
  2. Implement improvements to the process to alert relevant governments when requests are initiated.
  3. Comments from relevant governments will be fully considered.

Effective 23 February 2015, the updates have been incorporated in the Authorization Process for Release of Two-Character ASCII Labels webpage to reflect the revised process.

1 The Registry Agreement also states that two-character label strings can be released to the extent that registry operators reach agreement with the related government and country‐code manager of the string as specified in the ISO 3166‐1 alpha‐2 standard.

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."