Domain extensions are generally made up of two categories: gTLDs (Generic Top-Level Domains) and ccTLDs (Country Code Top-Level Domains). gTLDs are managed by commercial organizations and ccTLDs are the ones that are comprised of two-character extensions and are controlled by institutions that are authorized by states. While generic extensions (gTLD) are subject to international regulations, country code extensions usually are subjected to requirements that are determined by each country’s domain name regulation institution. With 150 million domain name registrations today, ccTLDs make up 40% of the total domain name industry.
Country code extension applications began in 1985. First extensions that were registered that year were .us (United States), .uk (United Kingdom) and .il (Israel). The following years saw the registration of tens of other country code extensions.
Over the course of time, emerging of states that had their applications denied, or states that were collapsed/dissolved, lead to the appearance of certain interesting cases. .cs extension that was adopted in 1990 was annulled when Czechoslovakia got dissolved in 1993. Today’s Democratic Republic of the Congo was known as the Republic of Zaire and was using .zr extension until 1997. Later on, due to the change in regime and the country’s name, .zr extension was abolished. .dd extension that was not actively being used and was reserved for German Democratic Republic ended up being stillborn when East and West Germany unified.
Above mentioned country code extensions are the ones affected by political changes and those that were abolished. However, there are some extensions that live on, even when its designated country no longer exists. Soviet Union’s .su extension can still be registered today. Even though the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, due to potential technical difficulties and the frequency of the extension’s usage, .su extension was not annulled. The extension is being used by an institution of the Russian state and currently can be registered or renewed for around 30$.
IDN (Internationalized Domain Names) country code extension applications were first started to be taken in 2009 by ICANN. First countries to request and obtain IDN extensions were Egypt (مصر.), Saudi Arabia (السعودية.), UAE (امارات.) and Russia (.рф). These extensions were followed by those with Chinese characters.
All of the country code extensions are made up of two characters. We may also say that every two character extension is a ccTLD: for example .de and .cn. On the other hand, IDN extensions can be comprised of two or more characters: for instance .рф and السعودية. These kinds of extensions are adopted to help nations that don’t use Latin, to use the internet in a more comfortable way and in their own languages. To have a better insight on IDN, you may read this article that we have shared earlier.
There are a total of 312 ccTLDs in active use. .cn, .tk, .de and .uk are the country code extensions that contain the highest number of domains. The table below illustrates the number of domains registered with the most popular country code extensions.
|.cn (China)||23 M|
|.tk (Tokelau)||21 M|
|.de (Germany)||16 M|
|.uk (United Kingdom)||12 M|
|.nl (Netherlands)||6 M|
|.ru (Russia)||6 M|
|.tw (Taiwan)||5 M|
|.br (Brasil)||4 M|
|.eu (European Union)||4 M|
|.fr (France)||3 M|
Some of the country code extensions only allow second-level domains (ex: .co), some of them allow only third-level domains (ex: .au) and some allow both (ex: .uk).
There is no lower-level domain extension for .co; domains can only be registered as [domain name].co
The opposite is valid for .au. You cannot register as [domain name].au but as [domain name].com.au
The .uk extension, on the other hand, can both be registered as a second-level domain and as a third-level domain: domain
Some governments have transferred the right to use their country code extensions to enterprises. Cocos Islands (.cc) and Tuvalu (.tv) can be taken as examples. Right to operate these two extensions are transferred to VeriSign which also operates .com and .net extensions. Extensions that are administered this way become even more popular with advertisement and promotion efforts by their companies. Colombia’s country code extension .co, that was handed over to a local company is an example for this.
Freenom lets the extensions they operate .tk, .ml, .ga, .cf and .gq to be used freely. However, when users forget to renew the domain, they lose their rights on the domain and the domain can only be recovered by payment.
Almost all ccTLDs other than the ones we have mentioned are operated by governmental institutions. Some of the ccTLDs have accepted internationally established UDRP on domain name disputes, and some have enacted their own rules.
ccTLDs provide the customer with flexible rights of usage. There are many ccTLDs that are open to IDN registration. In fact, some extensions like .ws and .fm, even allow emoji domains to be registered (ex: ❤️.ws). Some users perform what is called a “domain hack” by registering domains that form a single word together with the extension (like grou.ps). On the other hand, some brands have created URL shortening services by taking advantage of the shortness of these extensions. Some of the domains that were created with that purpose:
- goo.gl – Google
- lnkd.in – LinkedIn
- t.co – Twitter
- fb.me – Facebook
- ti.me – Time
Also, ccTLDs are being used by many local and global institutions and brands. Especially global brands register their domains with various ccTLDs for country distributorships.
ccTLD Domain Name Sales
ccTLDs have a rich history of sales as well. According to Namebio data, highest-priced ccTLD sales of all times is kredit.de (“credit”) that was sold through Sedo for 1,169,175$ in 2008. Second and third biggest sales are listed as cruise.co.uk and cruises.co.uk. These two sales amount to 2,200,000$ in total. Rest of the list include domain sales like credit.fr (“credit” – 2010), furniture.co.uk (2016) and jobs.ca.
The most exciting detail on ccTLD sales is, among the biggest 10 sales one domain has .no extension.
|game.cn||512,307 USD||29/01/14||.CN Registry Auction|
Country Code Top Level Domain List
|.ae||United Arab Emirates|
|.ag||Antigua and Barbuda|
|.ba||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|.bq||Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba|
|.cc||Cocos (Keeling) Islands|
|.cd||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|.cf||Central African Republic|
|.cg||Republic of Congo|
|.fk||Falkland Islands (Malvinas)|
|.fm||Federated States of Micronesia|
|.gs||South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands|
|.hm||Heard Island and McDonald Islands|
|.im||Isle of Man|
|.io||British Indian Ocean Territory|
|.ir||Islamic Republic of Iran|
|.kn||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|.kp||Democratic People’s Republic of Korea|
|.kr||Republic of Korea|
|.md||Republic of Moldova|
|.mp||Northern Mariana Islands|
|.pg||Papua New Guinea|
|.pm||Saint Pierre and Miquelon|
|.sj||Svalbard and Jan Mayen|
|.st||Sao Tome and Principe|
|.tc||Turks and Caicos Islands|
|.tf||French Southern Territories|
|.tt||Trinidad and Tobago|
|.um||United States Minor Outlying Islands|
|.vc||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines|
|.vg||British Virgin Islands|
|.vi||US Virgin Islands|
|.wf||Wallis and Futuna|
|.한국||Republic of Korea|
|.امارات||United Arab Emirates|