ccTLD Definition

Cite this article as:"ccTLD Definition," in The Business Professor, updated March 13, 2019, last accessed October 29, 2020,


ccTLD Explained

ccTLD, short for country code top-level domain, is an internet domain reserved and used by/for a country, sovereign state, or a dependent territory that is identified by a country code.

A Little More on What is a ccTLD

ccTLD is identified as two letters. In 2018, Internet Assigned Numbers Authority implemrented internationalized domains that consist of native-language characters. The creation and issuance of ccTLDs is explained in RFC 1591 as corresponds to ISO 3166-1 alpha 2 country codes.

Types of Top-Level Domains

There are different groups of top-level domains as distinguished by IANA in 2015.

  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†generic top-level domain, gTLD
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†infrastructure top-level domain, ARPA
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†restricted generic top-level domain, grTLD
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†county code top-level domains, ccTLD
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†delegation and management
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†sponsored top-level domain, sTLD
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†test top-level domain, tTLD

IANA determines the trustee of each ccTLD. The trustee is then given administration and control over the domain and the trustee is responsible for policies and operations. ccTLD determines delegation based on an existing list of ccTLDs with each ccTLD having different requirements and registration fees. There are mostly local requirements such as citizenship or other connections such as Canadian (ca) or German (de).

Internationalized ccTLD

International ccTLD (IDN ccTLD) is an encoded domain name displayed in end user applications such as web browsers in native-language script such as Arabic or non-alphabetic system such as Chinese characters. IDN ccTLDs are awarded to independent geographic regions.

In 2009, ICANN started accepting applications for IDN ccTLDs. It installed the first IDN ccTLDs set in the systems in 2010. By May 2010, ICANN had received applications from 21 countries which represented 11 languages.

IDN ccTLDs are required to have oneetter which is not related to Latin or to have at least three letters. This helps in avoiding homographic attacks. This also ensures IDN ccTLDs do not resemble.

Unconventional Usage

Registration restrictions have enhanced domain usage. Some domains form English phrases such as,, and while others form one word such as, blo.GS and Since 2010, Colombia is cited as the main competitor for generic domains for commercial usage.

In cases where there are several ccTLDs, there may be creation of emoji domains. Some domains are used for typosquatting. The domain cm used in Cameroon might be confused when people are writing .com domains.

Commercial domains use

Small countries and non-sovereign or colonial entities that have country codes have opened up their TLDs for commercial use, a good example is .tk which is given free.

References for ccTLD

Academic Research on ccTLD

  • New Governance, the Internet, and Country Code Top‚ÄźLevel Domains in Europe, Christou, G., & Simpson, S. (2009). Governance, 22(4), 599-624. This paper notes that while there are lots of research on how states respond to nationally rooted economic pressures, there is still a gap on responses of states to economic pressures outside a nation state. This article examines governance in internet activities.
  • Internet metrics: using host and domain counts to map the Internet, Zook, M. (2000). Telecommunications Policy, 24(6-7), 613-620. This article examines the strengths and weaknesses of internet host and domain usage and indicators of internet diffusion. The paper looks at the number and composition of domains in different countries and how domains and internet hosts are changed over time.
  • Web presence and impact factors for Middle-Eastern countries, Noruzi, A. (2006). Online, 30(2), 22-28. This article examines web presence and web-impact factor for ccTLDs of Middle-Eastern countries. Specifically, the study looks at ccTLDs and sub-level domains related to educational and academic institutions.
  • Computer attack trends challenge Internet security, Householder, A., Houle, K., & Dougherty, C. (2002). Computer, 35(4), sulp5-sulp7. This article examines challenges in current trends in attack techniques and tools. It raises awareness to help countries and nation states stay safe.
  • Web page change and persistence‚ÄĒA four‚Äźyear longitudinal study, Koehler, W. (2002). Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53(2), 162-171. The Web topography has changed in different ways. Some of the changes explored on this paper include more sites on internet servers, more pages on sites, increased traffic and modifications to existing graphic and texts. This article delves deeper into changes on existing web pages. Specifically, it looks at life cycle of web content and changes to web objects.
  • Geographic location of developers at SourceForge, Robles, G., & Gonzalez-Barahona, J. M. (2006, May). In Proceedings of the 2006 international workshop on Mining software repositories (pp. 144-150). ACM. This paper studies the development of free/open source software and how it is performed by teams which are geographically distributed. The development of these software comes from contributions from all people. This study examines SourceForge and its users and how the users are distributed.
  • Beyond ICANN Vs ITU? How WSIS tries to enter the new territory of Internet governance, Kleinw‚Äį chter, W. (2004). Gazette (Leiden, Netherlands), 66(3-4), 233-251. This paper discusses internet governance and the hurdles that the process has faced. In June 2002, discussions on internet governance were marginal but the issues became pertinent until in 2003, the then secretary-general of UN, Kofi Annan, was asked to setup a functional group of internet governance.
  • ICANN and Internet governance: Leveraging technical coordination to realize global public policy, Klein, H. (2002). The Information Society, 18(3), 193-207. ICANN has different functions including technical coordination, laying foundations for governance, enforcing global regulations, and leveraging capabilities for in domain name systems to implement law, authority, sanctions and jurisdictions. The paper observes that by recognizing the governance mechanisms of ICANN, countries are able to understand internet regulations better.
  • Perils of transitive trust in the domain name system, Ramasubramanian, V., & Sirer, E. G. (2005, October). In Proceedings of the 5th ACM SIGCOMM conference on Internet Measurement (pp. 35-35). USENIX Association. Domain Name System is based on name server delegations. This paper examines a high number of DNS and shows how dependencies lead to insecure naming systems.
  • GeoSearcher: Location‚Äźbased ranking of search engine results, Watters, C., & Amoudi, G. (2003). Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(2), 140-151. This paper observes that different web queries have geospatial dimensions. It also looks at how current search engines base their results on keyword occurrences and frequency. This paper describes an algorithm that assigns geographical coordinates to sites based on URL.
  • Sovereign Domains: A Declaration of Independence of ccTLDs from Foreign Control, Von Arx, K. G., & Hagan, G. R. (2002). Richmond Journal of Law & Technology, 9(1), 4. This paper looks at the conflict in internet governance and awarding of domains by countries and by ICANN.


Was this article helpful?