County-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) is a custom domain extension for a specific country, region, or language. ccTLDs are a type of Top-level Domain. Country-code Top Level Domains are sold to the end-user by different Network Information Center (NIC) for specific countries, languages, and regions through the relevant domain registrar organizations.
ccTLD or Country-code Top-Level Domain indicates the relationship of a domain name to a particular country, region, or language. For the purchase of a Country Code Top Level Domain, residence permit, official institution documents or citizenship may be required for the relevant country, region, or language. ICANN or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names is the organization that operates, manages, and regulates the ccTLDs. The Network Information Center is the responsible institution for the specific Country Code Top Level Domain. In the world, there are more than 200 Country Code Top Level Domain. Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names also operates the “theme-based” Top Level Domains or Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) such as “.com”, “.org”, or “.digital”.
Before proceeding more, you may want to read the related articles to Country Code Top Level Domains.
- What is a domain name?
- What is DNS Lookup?
- What is an IP Address?
- How to Perform DNS Reverse Lookup with Python?
- What is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?
What are the Features of the Country-code Top-Level Domains?
The key features of the Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD) are listed below.
- ccTLD is unique for a region, language, or country.
- ccTLD is being operated by the ICANN.
- The specific ccTLD is managed by the related Network Information Center.
- ccTLD can be purchased if certain conditions for the related country, language, region are being met.
- All of the ccTLDs consist of two Latin Alphabet that represents the region, country, or the language.
- There are Internationalized Country Code Top Level Domains (IDN-ccTLD) as exceptions that have more than two letters. For instance, in Sri Lanka, there are “.lk” extension as ccTLD, but also “.ලංකා/.இலங்கை” IDN-ccTLD are being used for Sinhala and Tamil Languages.
- Generic Top Level Domains have specific variations for certain web sites such as “.io” for “software” and “.org” for “organizations”. Country Code Top Level Domains do not have a specific purpose, their main characteristic is being determined by the region, language, and country differences.
Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) List for Countries
In the country-specific ccTLD list below, you can see which ccTLDs are available for which country. You can also see which ccTLDs are accessible via Domain Name Security Extensions (DNSSEC). DNSSEC is an important term for web site security, it is a part of the Domain Name Security System which protects the web site from phishing attacks and more. In the list, you will also see whether the ccTLD is being accessed via an Internationalized Domain Name or not. Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) can be used Latin Alphabet along with localized letters. An Internationalized Domain Name also can be used with only Latin Letters in case that the language is being used in the Latin Alphabet. For instance, the German Language is being written in Latin Alphabet, thus, “.de” ccTLD can be used with the Latin Alphabet based letters that are specific to Germany such as “à, á, â, ã”. It doesn’t mean that every IDN can be used with only the non-Latin Alphabet letters like in the Sri Lanka example.
|ccTLD||Country / Region||DNSSEC||IDN|
|.ae||United Arab Emirates||No||No|
|.ag||Antigua and Barbuda||Yes||No|
|.an||Netherlands Antilles (now deleted – with the 2010 political dissolution of this region as an overseas territory, the ccTLD was closed down in 2015)||No||No|
|.ax||Åland Islands (until March 2006 still accessable at .aland.fi)||No||No|
|.ba||Bosnia and Herzegovina||No||No|
|.bq||Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius||No||No|
|.bv||Bouvet Island (registration not yet possible)||No||No|
|.cd||Democratic Republic of the Congo||No||No|
|.cf||Central African Republic||No||No|
|.cg||Republic of the Congo||Yes||No|
|.dd||German Democratic Republic (Never Activated)||No||No|
|.eh||Western Sahara (due to the political conflict between the countries of Western Sahara and Morocco, this ccTLD is currently not live)||No||No|
|.ga||Gabon||No DS resource record available||No|
|.gb||United Kingdom (No longer in use since .uk became the established ccTLD for the United Kingdom)||Yes||No|
|.gn||Guinea||No DS resource record available||No|
|.gs||South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||No||No|
|.hm||Heard Island and McDonald Islands||Yes||No|
|.im||Isle of Man||Yes||No|
|.io||British Indian Ocean Territory||Yes||No|
|.kn||St. Kitts and Nevis||No||No|
|.lr||Liberia||No DS resource record available||No|
|.mp||Northern Mariana Islands||No||No|
|.pg||Papua New Guinea||No||No|
|.pm||Saint Pierre and Miquelon||Yes||Yes|
|.sj||Svalbard and Jan Mayen (registration is not yet possible)||No||No|
|.st||São Tomé and Príncipe||No||No|
|.su||Soviet Union (this TLD has been managed by Russia since the dissolution of the USSR)||Yes||Yes|
|.tc||Turks and Caicos Islands||Yes||No|
|.tf||French Southern and Antarctic Lands||Yes||Yes|
|.tl||Timor-Leste (formerly .tp)||Yes||No|
|.tp||Timor-Leste (now deleted – replaced by .tl in 2002)||Yes||No|
|.tr||Turkey, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus||Yes||Yes|
|.tt||Trinidad and Tobago||Yes||No|
|.tz||Tanzania||No DS resource record available||No|
|.um||United States Minor Outlying Islands (now deleted)||No||No|
|.vc||St. Vincent and the Grenadines||No DS resource record available||No|
|.vg||Britische Virgin Islands||Yes||No|
|.vi||United States Virgin Islands||Yes||No|
|.wf||Wallis and Futuna (also .fr)||Yes||Yes|
|.yt||Mayotte (French region – also .fr)||Yes||Yes|
|.yu||Yugoslavia (now deleted – after the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia the TLD was used by Serbia and Montenegro until 2010)||No||No|
|.zr||Zaire (now deleted – since the country was renamed in 1997, the ccTLD .cd has been used)||No||No|
What are the Changes in the Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) in Time?
Since Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) is specific to countries, languages, and regions, it is subject to changes due to political problems or government decisions. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN) is mostly busy organizing new ones while cleaning up deleted or no longer active ccTLDs. These changes that ICANN has to make are difficult and time-consuming. For example, the Soviet Union (USSR) was destroyed in 1991. However, the extension “.su”, which belongs to the Soviet Union, is still alive today and it is possible to register a domain.
Below, you will see some of the ccTLD changes that happened in history.
The political state structure named Netherlands Antilles (Dutch Antilles) collapsed in 2010. Netherlands Antilles was made up of many islands in the Caribbean. People living on the islands could register domain names with the “.an” extension. After the dissolution in 2010, ICANN started using the “.bq” extension for “Caribbean Netherlands”. “.cw” was used for Curaçao, and “.sx” was used for Six Maarten. All these new extensions replaced “.an”.
Below you will see some of the ccTLD changes that happened over the course of history.
- The political state structure named Netherlands Antilles (Dutch Antilles) collapsed in 2010. Netherlands Antilles consisted of many islands in the Caribbean. People living on the islands could register domain names with the “.an” extension. After the dissolution in 2010, ICANN started using the “.bq” extension for “Caribbean Netherlands”. “.cw” was used for Curaçao, and “.sx” was used for Six Maarten. All these new extensions replaced “.an”.
- “.dd” ccTLD was being used for German Democratic Republic (GDR), this ccTLD has been used only for communication between two German Universities between East and West Germany.
- “.um” was being used for the islands without a high population in the Pacific Oceans. These islands were being governed by the Southern California University. After the University’s wish to relieve itself from the burden of the ccTLD, the ICANN removed the “.um” ccTLD.
- “.yu” was the ccTLD of the former Yugoslav Republic. After the dissolvation of the Yugoslav Republic, Serbia has started to use “.rs”, while Montenegro has started to use “.me” instead of the “.yu”.
- “.zr” was being used in the West Africa Country, Republic of Zaire. After they have changed the name of the country as the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1997, the “.zr” has been replaced with the “.cd”. After four years, in 2001, the “.zr” has been deleted by the ICANN.
- “.eh” means the “Sáhara Español” that represents the Western Side of the Sahara. Morocco and Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic had a political conflict. Both of the political sides try to use the “.eh” as their default ccTLD after the conflict. At first, Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) assigned the “.eh” ccTLD extension to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. After one year, in 2007 ICANN decided to remove the “.eh” from the usage. Since there is no agreement between two political sides, still, “.eh” stays as inactive.
Last Thoughts on Country Code Top Level Domains and Holistic SEO
Country Code Top Level Domains are important for regional, national and language-based segmentation in internet usage. Thanks to ccTLD, a user can easily understand the original state of a company or website, in which country it is serving or which country it is based in. In Google Search Console, if a domain name has a ccTLD, the country, language or region corresponding to that ccTLD will be automatically selected in the Regional Targeting section.
This shows that the domain name with the ccTLD in question can receive views, especially in that region, and users who search in that region can appear in that language. The use of ccTLDs can get a small boost from Search Engine Algorithms, in a regional sense, to varying degrees depending on the industry and content structure.
In addition, using a domain name with ccTLD can create a sense of reliability or “concreteness” to a certain extent, which may vary from industry to industry, as it requires the preparation of official documents. Any domain name opened with ccTLDs may sometimes be visible in queries in different regions if the content is useful or the IP Address is located in another country. This is the results of Search Engine’s internet browsing, profiling, segmentation, and interpretation stages based on “user benefit” or “technological infrastructure”.
Knowing about ccTLDs is important for many digital marketers and software developers, especially in the context of International SEO and Holistic SEO. Depending on the ccTLDs, a different Search Engine Results Page may occur in different countries, each country’s search habits, thinking styles, and Search Engine’s algorithms work somewhat differently. In this context, the ccTLD information is a guide for marketers and developers.
Our Country Code Top Level Domain guideline will be developed and maintained over time.