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Praeter Latin: ICANN Approves IDN TLDs, First Non-Latin Character Domain Extensions

The news coming out of Seoul and last week’s ICANN meeting is that we may be as little as two weeks away from the first non-latin character top level domain extensions – meaning that for the first time we will start seeing internationalized domain names (IDNs) with foreign language characters from start to finish.

What does that mean? It means that instead of using .in as the extension for an Indian domain, you can now have an entire domain name in Hindi characters, including not only the domain name itself, but a dot and the Hindi characters India chooses to use for its new IDN TLD as well.

“The coming introduction of non-Latin characters represents the biggest technical change to the Internet since it was created four decades ago,” said ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush. “Right now Internet address endings are limited to Latin characters – A to Z. But the Fast Track Process is the first step in bringing the 100,000 characters of the languages of the world online for domain names.” As many analysts and commentators point out, the move is a necessary one, with statistics from InternetWorls showing that as many as 42 percent of the world’s internet users reside in Asia, and that that number is growing twice as fast as for those in the rest of the world.

Rod Beckstrom, Icann’s president and CEO, said of the coming changes, “This is only the first step, but it is an incredibly big one and an historic move toward the internationalization of the internet. The first countries that participate will… help to bring the first of billions more people online — people who never use Roman characters in their daily lives”.

As for your domain managers and buyers, this is a huge development because a slew of new domain names and IDN TLDs will come available in the coming months. will keep you updated as the new fast-track process for the approval of these new TLDs begins and they are available for registration. The process begins November 16, and will be initially limited to domains controlled by national governments, like .in for India. More information will be coming soon, and we’ll bring it to you here on our blog and in our monthly newsletter.