What Are Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs?

Many languages use characters that not included in ASCII, the standard character set supported by all computers. These languages require the use of Unicode in order to display characters required for that language, such as accented characters in French or the characters used in Chinese. It is often possible to use the expanded Unicode set of characters when registering a domain name, either in your unique chosen domain or in one of the many available internationalized extensions. Domain names that use these characters are referred to as IDNs or internationalized domain names.


Not all web, DNS, or mail servers support Unicode and many will not recognize an internationalized domain name. This is especially the case with messaging software.

You can get an internationalized domain name to work in a system that does not support Unicode by using the punycode version of your domain name. Punycode converts the international characters into ASCII characters in a way that is readable by all systems. A punycode domain name always begins with xn– to signal that the domain name is using punycode.

Here are some examples:

International Domain






We include a link to a punycode converter in the Additional Resources section.

Additional Resources