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What is IDN?

What is IDN?

IDN is short for Internationalized Domain Name and is used for domain names that include at least one character which isn’t in the normal alphabet (A-Z), isn’t a number (0-9) or isn’t a hyphen (-). In other words: IDN allows you to use accented letters.

Which characters will now be available?

There are different character sets that can be used for an IDN implementation. DNS.be decided to use a set that includes, at the very least, all accented letters used in Dutch, French and German. This particular set also includes accented letters used in other European languages, such as Swedish, Danish and Finnish.
Below you will find an overview of the new characters that will be allowed:

ß    à    á    â    ã    ó    ô    þ    ü     ú    ð
æ    å    ï    ç     è     õ    ö    ÿ    ý    ò    ä
œ    ê     ë    ì     í     ø    ù    î    û    ñ    é


Why would you need an IDN domain name?

Your brand name, product name or even your own name is unique. When this includes an accented letter, that letter is crucial. Because without the accents, it wouldn’t sound right, not even on the web!

How will your browser display IDN characters?

The ability to work with IDN domain names has been around since IDNA 2003, a standard developed to enable various applications to operate with accents. All recent browsers support the IDNA 2003 standard. Behind the scenes, your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) will convert IDN domain names via special coding to ASCII (a format that only uses ordinary letters, numbers or a hyphen) so that visitors can go to that particular address. In actual fact, your browser will convert www.dñs.be to www.xn--ds-zja.be. But in most cases you won’t be aware of it.
DNS.be will implement IDNA 2008, which is a later development of the IDNA 2003 standard. For the character set offered by DNS.be, there is no difference between both versions, except for the German ß. In IDNA 2003 this character is converted to ‘ss’, which means that browsers that don’t yet support IDNA 2008 will not convert domain names with an ß to an ASCII form, but the ß will simply be replaced by ‘ss’. So, if for example you want to visit www.dnß.be, most browsers will send you to www.dnss.be, meaning you would come to a different website. At present, only the Opera browser supports IDNA 2008.
If a party other than you has registered the ‘ss’ variant of a domain name with an ß, visitors may arrive at your website or find themselves at a different website, depending on the browser they are using. Which is why registrants wanting to register a domain name with an ß are also recommended to register a version with ‘ss’.

Can I use an e-mail address with IDN characters?

Whether or not IDN characters are supported in e-mail addresses depends very much on the e-mail client (such as Outlook or Thunderbird) and server software you are using. This means that DNS.be has no control over it.

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