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:

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.