International Domain Names on the Web

Most foreign web pages on the Internet use the international Unicode standard, developed back in 1988. The Domain Name System service itself however, running on millions of name servers worldwide, will only support 37 ASCII characters: i.e. the 26 letters "a - z", the 10 digits "0 - 9", and the "-" character. Accordingly a special syntax called Punycode was developed in 2003 which employed the prefix "xn--" in the domain label and encoded any foreign characters within the label from Unicode into ASCII e.g. "中.org" would thus find itself encoded on name servers worldwide as "". However the Top Level Domain itself, ".org" or ".cn" still needed to be in ASCII. A Chinese Government program that hid this ".cn" requirement could be installed on individual PCs (in China), but this was a stop-gap measure. Countries asked for additional Top Level Domains to be created in their own script.

In preparation for this, in 2008, ICANN released 11 temporary Top Level Domain names in foreign scripts using each language's word for "test".

These Top Level Domains are set out below. Note the Persian, Arabic and Yiddish languages which display the script right-to-left (rather than left-to-right).

  1. .xn--0zwm56d from the Chinese word for .test in the Simplified Chinese script i.e.
    .测试 (pronounced as .cè shì according to

  2. .xn--11b5bs3a9aj6g from the Hindi word for .test in the Devanagari script i.e.
    .परीक्षा (pronounced as .parīkṣā according to

  3. .xn--80akhbyknj4f from the Russian word for .test in the Cyrillic script i.e.
    .испытание (pronounced as .ispitaniye according to

  4. .xn--9t4b11yi5a from the Korean word for .test in the Hangul script i.e.
    .테스트 (pronounced as .teseuteu according to

  5. .xn--deba0ad from the Yiddish word for .test in the Hebrew script i.e.
    טעסט. (pronounced as .tʻst according to

  6. .xn--g6w251d from the Chinese word for .test in the Traditional Chinese script i.e.
    .測試 (pronounced as .cè shì according to

  7. .xn--hgbk6aj7f53bba from the Persian word for .test in the Perso-Arabic script i.e.
    آزمایشی. (pronounced as .ậzmạysẖy according to

  8. .xn--hlcj6aya9esc7a from the Tamil word for .test i.e.
    .பரிட்சை (pronounced as .pariṭcai according to

  9. .xn--jxalpdlp from the Greek word for .test i.e.
    .δοκιμή (pronounced as .dokimḗ according to

  10. .xn--kgbechtv from the Arabic word for .test i.e.
    إختبار. (pronounced as .akẖtbạr according to

  11. .xn--zckzah from the Japanese word for .test in the Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana script i.e.
    .テスト (pronounced as .tesuto according to

On May 5th, 2010 international TLDs for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE went live. Numerous countries followed.

On October 31st, 2013 these eleven test IDN TLDs were retired from the DNS root zone. Click here for that announcement.

Click here for a list of TLDs that highlight recent changes, based on the latest IANA list.

Click here for Wikipedia's article on the subject. Click here for the latest Wiki list.

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