Given the hundreds of new domain extensions that have been released in the last couple of years, if someone asked you how many types there are, you might assume there were lots.
Surely there’s little similarity among .JP, .ORG, and .COFFEE, right?
In fact, there are only two types of domains: country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) and generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
In this article we’ll be looking at what ccTLDs are, and some of their many quirks and interesting stories. We’ll follow that up with the adventures of gTLDs a bit later.
- What is a ccTLD?
- Many registries, different rules
- Risky business
- Emoji domain quirks
What is a ccTLD?
Evidence for what types of domain extensions ccTLDs cover is right there in the name: cc = country code. Countries around the world have two-letter ISO country codes.
Those country codes form the domain extensions for ccTLDs, from .AF (Afghanistan) to .ZW (Zimbabwe). There are no two-letter gTLDs. The closest is three letters (like .COM).
Due to their popularity, often as domain hacks, that some ccTLDs represent countries may not have even occurred to you. But .ME (Montenegro), .CO (Colombia), .TV (Tuvalu) and others do, indeed, represent actual places. Even .TO represents the kingdom of Tonga, not the Canadian city of Toronto, though Torontonians have adopted it for their own branding to a degree.
Many registries, different rules
Many of these countries run their own domain registries, like ISNIC in Iceland, CIRA in Canada, and DENIC in Germany. Other registries, like AFNIC in France, manage a portfolio of ccTLDs including several countries or territories under their governance.
One of the most important things to note with ccTLD registries is that they make the rules for their extensions and the domains registered with them. That includes things like pricing, who can register domains with their ccTLD, what information you need to provide, how long registration lasts, if expired domains can be restored, and when expired domains get deleted.
As a result, the rules among different ccTLD registries can differ widely. Most domains get registered for one year at a time, for example, but did you know that .AS and .AU are automatically registered for two?
To register a .CA domain name, you’ll need to have a Canadian address or proof of Canadian trademark. For a number of European ccTLDs, you’ll need an address in the European Union.
For some of those registries the local presence service can be applied, where we arrange a local address at registration (sometimes there is a fee for this), so you don’t actually have to live there. But again, this isn’t the rule for all of them.
.IO domains have a post-expiry grace period (renewable period)of 89 days, but a redemption period (restorable, but more expensive) of only one day. .IM domains can’t be restored at all, and restoring a .MU domain will cost you $1,900USD. Yikes!
Some registries are bigger and more established than others. You may notice this in their registration or verification requirements, or simply in how quickly issues can be resolved.
This can also manifest in the stability of domains registered to a particular ccTLD. Sometimes completing .CM registrations can take a little longer. Or if there’s a war the registry might go down entirely for a while, like once happened with .CD.
On the other hand, the Tuvalu Islands were almost wiped off the map by Cyclone Bebe in 2009, but the registry’s still going strong.
People have been nervous about Libya’s .LY before (yep, like bit.ly), too, but their fears have been unfounded. The registry has servers in the US and Netherlands, as well as Libya.
Emoji domain quirks
The ever-popular emoji domains are also interesting. Not all registries support them, but the ones that are most likely to are ccTLD ones like .WS. However, even then it’s not entirely consistent, and there are variations in supported codes, how different browsers “translate” punycode, etc.
We post specific information about this on the registration page for those to try and avoid disappointments.
We get it that all these ins and outs can be confusing. That’s why it’s our job to know the ins and outs for you. If you’re thinking about a ccTLD domain or have questions about one you already have, we’re happy to help. Just let us know.