IDN Frequently Asked Questions


IDN Overview  

What are Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs)?
Why are IDNs needed?
What languages are supported by IDNs?
How do I use IDNs to navigate to a website?
How do I register an IDN?
Can several IDNs share the same IP address?
Can hyphens be used in internationalised domain names?
What is the maximum number of characters allowed for an IDN?
What are the newly allowed characters for an IDN in Unicode 6.0?
What is the IDN Software Developer's Consortium (IDNSDC)?

IDN Registrar Overview  

Why add IDNs to registrar options?
How do I become an IDN registrar?
How does IDN registration work?
What is a registration variant?
What happens if the same domain name is registered twice?
How can developers IDN-enable their applications?
What are the IDN standards?
Are there separate EPP codes for IDNs and name servers?
How will the Verisign Whois handle IDNs?

IDN Language Tags  

What is an IDN language tag?
Why are language tags required?
How is a language tag used during registration?
Can I use a default language tag in my registration process?

 

IDN Overview Answers

What are Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs)? 
Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) are second-level and third-level domain names or web addresses, represented by local language characters. The native language domain name is followed by the Latin script top-level domain (TLD) such as .com or .net. An example of an IDN is: 스타벅스코리아.com (in punycode: xn--oy2b35ckwhba574atvuzkc.com). Back to top

Why are IDNs needed? 
IDNs enable more web users to navigate the Internet in their preferred script and more companies to maintain one brand identity in many scripts. Most domain names are registered in ASCII characters (A to Z, 0 to 9 and the hyphen "-"). However, languages that require diacritics such as Spanish and French, and those that use non-Latin scripts such as Kanji and Arabic cannot be rendered in ASCII. As a result, millions of Internet users struggle to find their way online using non-native scripts and languages. IDNs improve the accessibility and functionality of the Internet by enabling domain names in non-ASCII characters. Back to top

What languages are supported by IDNs? 
Please see scripts and languages for more information. Back to top

How do I use IDNs to navigate to a website? 
To use IDNs, you must have an IDN-enabled browser such as Microsoft® Internet Explorer or Firefox. When a user enters an IDN using local language characters, or follows a link, IDN-enabled applications encode the characters into an ACE string that the DNS understands. The DNS processes the request and returns the information to the application. Back to top

How do I register an IDN? 
If you own a website or provide other Internet-based services and would like to use IDNs to help your customers, you may register an IDN in available characters via participating ICANN-accredited and Verisign-certified registrars. A registrant requests an IDN from a registrar that supports IDNs. The registrar converts the local language characters into a sequence of supported characters using ASCII-compatible encoding (ACE). The registrar submits the ACE string to the Verisign® Shared Registration System (SRS), where it is verified and encoded. The IDN is added to the appropriate TLD zone files and propagated across the Internet. Find a Registrar Back to top

Can several IDNs share the same IP address? 
Yes, in keeping with current domain name standards, multiple IDNs may share IP addresses. Back to top

Can hyphens be used in internationalised domain names? 
Yes. However, just as current standards do not allow names to begin or end with a hyphen, the ASCII transformation cannot begin or end with a hyphen. A hyphen cannot exist in third or fourth position in an IDN. Back to top

What is the maximum number of characters allowed for an IDN? 
The encoded form of the IDN (including the characters for .com, .net or .name) may contain up to 67 characters. The characters may be letters, numbers or hyphens. A domain name may not begin or end with a hyphen. The IDN transformation software will reject a domain name if the encoded conversion exceeds the character limit. Back to top

What are the newly allowed characters for an IDN in Unicode 6.0? 
The newly-allowed characters in Unicode 6.0 are listed below.

0527 A78E
0620 A791
065F A7A1
0840-085B A7A3
093A-093B A7A5
094F A7A7
0956-0957 A7A9
0973-0977 A7FA
0D29 AB01-AB06
0D3A AB09-AB0E
0D4E AB11-AB16
0F8C-0F8F AB20-AB26
135D-135E AB28-AB2E
1BC0-1BF3 11000-11046
1DFC 11066-1106F
2D7F 16800-16A38
31B8-31BA 1B000-1B001
A661 2B740-2B81D
Back to top

What is the IDN Software Developer's Consortium (IDNSDC)? 
To complement the IDN initiatives being pushed by ICANN, Verisign is helping to organise a new consortium to push adoption of IDN capabilities in standard client software. An inaugural in-person meeting was held at the ICANN Brussels meeting in June 2010. Verisign is excited about the opportunities presented by the introduction of IDNs, and urges the Internet community to participate in the consortium. For more information about the IDN Software Developer's Consortium, please contact IDNSDC@verisign.com. Back to top

IDN Registrar Overview Answers

Why add IDNs to registrar options? 
By adding IDNs, registrars have the opportunity to expand services and potentially increase revenues with their existing infrastructure. A single .com domain name may be registered in as many as 350 different native languages. Back to top

How do I become an IDN registrar? 
To offer IDN options, you must first be a registrar for a particular TLD. Verisign, a pioneer in domain name technology, is a leader in the propagation and adoption of IDNs. Verisign has made IDNs available for the .com, .net, .name, .tv and .cc registries via the IDN SDKs. To calculate the potential for IDNs to expand your domain name business, please download our IDN ROI Calculator (XLS). Back to top

How does IDN registration work? 
The Verisign® Shared Registration System (SRS) allows a registrant to register IDNs via a registrar in any script supported by Unicode. The registrant's IDN is stored in the registry’s database in an ASCII-compatible representation as defined by RFC 3492 (Encoding Scheme: punycode). For example, the Japanese characters ドメイン translate to the English word “domain”. The punycode encoding of those characters will be stored as "xn--eckwd4c7c.com". The uniqueness of a domain name registration is determined by its Unicode representation. Valid characters for IDNs are those identified within the Unicode specification. Learn more about the policy for IDN code points. Back to top

What is a registration variant? 
Resolving an IDN requires the DNS to interpret characters in local languages and connect them to the relevant domains. However, there are many more languages than scripts. For example, in two different Latin-based languages the "ø" and the "ö" characters may be interchanged. The registration "thørn.com" could be a registration variant of "thörn.com". These characters are considered character variants and their overlap requires a special solution. Learn more about character variants. Back to top

What happens if the same domain name is registered twice? 
Verisign processes IDN transactions on a first-come, first-served basis in the same way as it does with all registrations in the .com, .net, .name, .tv and .cc registries. If a dispute occurs, Verisign follows the relevant policies established by ICANN to uniformly administer the domain name transfer dispute process. To assist with potential disputes, Verisign has created the IDN Conversion Tool, which converts an IDN character string into punycode so that you can check Whois for the punycode character string. Back to top

How can developers IDN-enable their applications? 
Libraries that implement the IDNs in Applications (IDNA) standard for a variety of programming environments are available in the public domain. Verisign encourages and supports the work of such developers and provides links to these libraries. Application developers should choose the library that best fits their application requirements. Verisign offers a complete IDN SDK in Java and C to application developers. It fully supports the latest IDNA specification. You can find it on the IDN SDK download page. Back to top

What are the IDN standards? 
Review our IETF Standards. Back to top

Are there separate EPP codes for IDNs and name servers? 
The registration failure/error codes for IDNs and name servers are the same as those in the current EPP. Additional codes have been added to support errors specific to IDN conversion and encoding. Back to top

How will the Verisign Whois handle IDNs? 
IDNs appear in Whois results in punycode. The domain name, registrar name, Whois server, referral URL, name server record and updated date are recorded using ASCII characters (the current standard). Since Whois will not accept native language queries, Verisign has created the IDN Conversion Tool, which converts an IDN character string into punycode. Keep in mind that domain names are unique registrations for each language. Therefore, a user must perform a Whois query for a domain name in each language (native character set). Back to top

IDN Language Tags Answers

What is an IDN language tag? 
ICANN Registry Implementation Committee (RIC) guidelines require that each Internationalised Domain Name (IDN) is associated with a specific language using a "language tag". The registrant selects the IDN language tag during the registration process. If an IDN combines more than one language, the registrant must select the most appropriate language. Back to top

Why are language tags required? 
Language tags allow appropriate language rules to be applied to the domain name to prevent the registration of domain names that may confuse IDN users. Learn more about character variants. Back to top

How is a language tag used during registration? 
The language tag is checked against a list of languages that have character inclusion tables or character variant mapping tables. These tables are applied to the Unicode code points that make up a registration and determine whether the registration is valid for a specific language. If a registration fails for one language, the character set may still be available with a different language tag. Back to top

Can I use a default language tag in my registration process? 
A default language tag may be used; however, registrants seeking domain names in a different language may be rejected because the appropriate language rules have not been applied. For example, if a registrant submitted a registration using Cyrillic characters and the default tag set by the registrar was Chinese, the registration would be rejected because Cyrillic characters are not permitted under the Chinese character inclusion table. Back to top

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