Procedure for Establishing ccTLDs
The IANA is not in the business of deciding what is and what is not a country, nor what code letters are appropriate for a particular country. Instead, the IANA employs a neutral list of two-letter codes maintained by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency. The IANA's policy is to create new ccTLDs only when they are listed on the ISO 3166-1 list. For a recent case in which this policy was applied, see the IANA Report on Request for Delegation of the .ME Top-Level Domain.
The codes IANA uses are two-letter codes from the ISO 3166-1 list. The selection of the ISO 3166-1 list 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 on that list.
The ISO 3166-1 list is a broadly accepted list of country codes intended for many uses, not simply for use as ccTLD codes. 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 organizations 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.