Qualifying top-level domain strings
Eligible categories of top-level domains
The current ways in which a top-level domain can be eligible for delegation are as follows:
- Approved generic top-level domain. The domain needs to have been successfully reviewed and completed the evaluation and contracting process with ICANN to be a generic top-level domain.
- ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code. The two-letter (“alpha-2”) code that is assigned in the ISO 3166-1 standard is eligible for delegation as a country-code top-level domain. This is the standard path of eligibility for ASCII country-code top-level domain strings.
- IDN Fast-Track Approved String. The domain reflects a string that was approved by the ccTLD Fast-Track IDN process. The country for which the string was approved must continue to be listed in the ISO 3166-1 standard. If the country is no longer in the ISO 3166-1 standard, the string is no longer eligible for delegation.
- Eligible under ICANN Board Resolution 00.74. This resolution provides for eligibility for domains that are not on the ISO 3166-1 standard, but that the Maintenance Agency deems exceptionally reserved, and requires that the Agency "has issued a reservation of the code that covers any application of ISO 3166-1 that needs a coded representation in the name of the country, territory, or area involved". There is currently (as of June 2013) only one code eligible under these requirements, "EU" for the European Union.
- Grandfathered prior to 2000. ICANN codified the rules under which future exceptionally reserved delegations may be considered in 2000 in Resolution 00.74. Certain domains were delegated on the basis of being “exceptionally reserved” by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency prior to this date. These domains were “.UK”, “.AC”, “.GG” and “.JE”. Of these, “.GG” and “.JE” are now listed in the ISO 3166-1 standard and therefore qualify normally. The remaining two domains that are grandfathered under their original eligibility are “.UK” and “.AC”.
- Infrastructure domain. The domain “.ARPA” is delegated as a special “infrastructure” top-level domain for certain technical purposes, following procedures developed in the IETF and overseen by the Internet Architecture Board.
- Test domain. According to Board Resolution 07.47, a series of test top-level domains are eligible for delegation for testing purposes. As of 2013, 11 top-level domains have been delegated according to this policy.
Eligible countries for country-code TLDs
ICANN is not in the business of deciding what is and what is not a country. Instead, we employ a neutral standard maintained by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency. Our policy is to create new country-code top-level domains when the country or territory is listed on the ISO 3166-1 standard.
The codes we use are two-letter codes from the ISO 3166-1 standard. The selection of the ISO 3166-1 standard as a basis for country-code top-level domain names was made with the knowledge that ISO has a politically neutral procedure for determining which entities should be and should not be listed in the standard.
The ISO 3166-1 standard is a broadly accepted list of country-codes intended for many uses, not simply for use as country-code top-level domains. Accordingly, in describing the relationship between the ISO 3166-1 list and ccTLDs, the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency includes the following:
For quite some time now, individual persons or organisations interested in obtaining their “own” TLD have been requesting the inclusion of “new” country names into ISO 3166-1 in order to get a new alpha-2 code element from the ISO 3166/MA and subsequently a ccTLD from ICANN. Such requests are absolutely futile, however, because the only way to enter a new country name into ISO 3166-1 is to have it registered in one of the following two sources:
- United Nations Terminology Bulletin Country Names or
- Country and Region Codes for Statistical Use of the UN Statistics Division
To be listed in the bulletin Country Names you must either be
- a member country of the United Nations,
- a member of one of its specialized agencies or
- a party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
The list of names in the code of the UN Statistics Division is based on the bulletin Country Names and other UN sources.
Once a country name or territory name appears in either of these two sources, it will be added to ISO 3166-1 by default.