Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) - What you need to know - Webnames Blog

Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) – What you need to know would like to announce that on January 13, 2013, we will start offering the ability to register Internationalized Domain Names (IDN). In short, .CA holders will be able to use characters that are outside American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) or the English Alphabet. In Canada’s case, CIRA will be implementing the use of French IDNs.

What is an IDN?

IDNs are domains that have characters that are not part of the standardized a-z alphabet, 0-9 and hyphen(-). Through the implementation of IDNs, Registrants will now be able to use diacritics or Latin-based characters such as é, â, ù, ç and ÿ.

The changes will allow French-Canadian companies the chance to finally register a French domain name. This also allows other .CA domain holders the chance to register French variants of their domains.

Why Implement French IDNs?

When CIRA decided to implement IDNs, it had six objectives:

  • To provide the opportunity to Registrants to register domains correctly in French, one of Canada’s two Official Languages;
  • To continue to develop the .CA domain space as a key public resource for the social and economic development for all Canadians;
  • For the IDN launch policies and procedures to reflect current world wide best practices;
  • To ensure the policies and procedures be as consistent as possible with existing policies and procedures;
  • For the policies and process not to be unduly complex;
  • To reduce the potential for phishing and user confusion.

IDN Registration Rules

To make sure that the launch of the French IDNs in Canada was as polished as possible, CIRA held two public consultation periods. Through these consultations, CIRA implemented a bundling, pricing and single registrar policy. Now what exactly do these policies mean?

The Bundling Policy

During the initial stages of IDN policy development, a lot of .CA holders were concerned about phishing issues and user confusion. Initially, CIRA had a Sunrise period where .CA holders have 12 weeks to register their IDN variants. Another 12 weeks, called the Landrush period, would follow where any interested party can register any unregistered and available domains. After the Landrush period is over, registration of IDNs would be on a first come, first served basis. Due to feedback received by CIRA, the Sunrise & Landrush periods were removed in favour of the Bundling policy.

With Bundling, .CA holders would have exclusive rights to all variants of their domain name. The bundling policy has helped alleviate concerns about phishing and user confusion.

Pricing Policy

To make sure that concerns about pricing were quickly answered, the wholesale cost of registering a bundle of IDNs will be the same as wholesale ASCII domain pricing.

Another thing to take note of is .CA domain holders are not required to register all variants of their domain. It is totally up to the discretion of the current .CA domain holder to determine whether having a French domain would be beneficial for them and their clients. Regardless of their decision, the variants of their .CA domains will still be reserved for their exclusive use.

Single Registrant & Registrar

To make things practical from a technical and policy perspective, CIRA determined that a domain and its variations can only be registered to a single Registrant and a single Registrar. This means that all domains will have a single organization/individual as the main contact for the domains and all the domains will be registered with a single Registrar. Moving a domain to another Registrar would mean that the entire bundle must also be moved.

IDN Registration Process

The process of registering a French .CA domain remains the same as before. Registrants will have to search for an available domain name and use a CIRA-certified Registrar, such as When registrants start using a French character on their domain name and registers it, all its French variants are automatically bundled up. This reserves all variations and becomes unavailable to anyone except the current Registrant.

Each variant in the bundle will then have to be registered individually and each variant will have their own life cycles. All variants of the domain name will also have to be registered with a single Registrar.

Benefits of IDNs

The first benefit of registering for a French IDN is being able to protect your brand, company name and trademarks. In the past, companies with a French name had to conform to the standard ASCII domain name when registering for a domain. Through the planned launch of IDNs by CIRA, companies with a French name will now be able to match their domain name to the name of their company which can greatly increase brand recognition and image.

The second benefit of the introduction of French IDNs is that it allows companies to protect themselves and the security of their clients. Through the Bundling scheme, the variants of company domain names will automatically be reserved for pre-IDN domains. For example, a variant of will be wé Other variations of can only be registered by Webnames. This applies for all other .CA domains.

Register Early encourages all individuals and businesses to register the English version of their desired .CA domain ASAP. As mentioned, this automatically reserves the right to use all variants of the .CA domain you registered.

More Information

To learn more about Internationalized Domain Names, visit the CIRA IDN roadmap or the CIRA IDN Consultation page.

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