3. IDN (Internationalised Domain Name)

What is an IDN (Internationalised Domain Name)?

An IDN or Internationalised Domain Name is an Internet domain name which may include special characters which are not defined in the ASCII standard. These special characters include, in particular, accented characters (e.g. é, à) or umlauts (e.g. ü, ä), which are common in numerous European languages, including German and French, and characters which do not form part of the Latin alphabet, such as Cyrillic, Chinese or Arabic characters.

Certain registries already permit the use of non-ASCII characters for second level domain names. Since users' requirements around the world differ, not all registries include the same special characters on their list. Enquiries should therefore be made with the registry concerned as to which characters are permissible for registration of a domain name.

The use of non-ASCII characters is possible not only for the creation of a second level domain name but should also be possible for the creation of a new gTLD.

Can I register an internationalised domain name (IDN) in the ".ch" top level domain?

Registration of domain names which include a restricted number of non-ASCII characters is possible in the ".ch" top level domain. Further information, in particular the available characters, can be found in the technical and administrative rules concerning the assignment and management of second level domain names under the ".ch" domain (CC 784.101.113/2.13):

Rules concerning ".ch" domain names (CC 784.101.113/2.13)

What risks may arise for owners of intellectual property rights and how can these owners protect themselves against the creation of domains with non-ASCII characters which are damaging to them?

There is a risk that a third party may, without the knowledge of the owner of intellectual property rights, register domain names, including non-ASCII characters, which are similar or identical to a brand, either in the same domain or in another top level domain. Owners of intellectual property rights must therefore ensure that they are protected, by employing various preventive and defensive means to be applied when necessary in respect of the domain concerned.

Specialist staff
Last modification 25.11.2009

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