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

We are 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. The standard is maintained by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency and normally changes are only made based on information from the United Nations Headquarters.

Published 2013-10-25, last revised 2017-02-03.