DNS Belgium Outlines Which 2-Character Domains Can Be Registered?

[news release] A domain name that consists of only two characters: why is it that you sometimes can register them and another time you can’t? Who’s the one to decide? And what about extensions: why not choose a short .vl extension instead of the longer .vlaanderen?

In the first place we have to make a distinction between a ccTLD (country code top level domain) such as .be, .nl and .fr, and a gTLD (generic top level domain) such as .vlaanderen and .brussels, but also .com, .bike etc.

With ccTLDs it is the registry that decides on the policies and thus on the domain names that are made available for registration (except a few technical commitments that generally apply). With .be for instance it is perfectly possible to register two-character domain names, even two-letter domain names such as be.be. The registry in charge of .fr, on the other hand, didn’t allow them until recently; it is now gradually releasing all one and two-character domain names.

For the gTLDs, the situation is completely different. A great deal of the policies is determined by ICANN. At the end of 2014, ICANN decided to authorize the gTLDs registries to release two-character domain names as far as they contain:

  • 2 digits e.g. 11
  • 1 digit and 1 letter e.g. 1a
  • 1 letter and 1 digit e.g. a1

DNS Belgium decided to release these combinations as of the start of general availability, which is 20 January 2015 (10:00 CET). Combinations such as 56.brussels or k8.vlaanderen will then be made available.

It remains more difficult to register two-letter domain names such as aa.vlaanderen. This kind of domain name will continue to need the explicit consent from ICANN. If the two letters happen to constitute a country code, you will even need authorization of the authorities of the country in question as well as of the registry who manages the country code in question. Whoever wants to register nl.vlaanderen will thus need authorization of both the Dutch authorities and SIDN (manager of the .nl domain names).


The reason why we haven’t chosen the short .vl extension instead of .vlaanderen, is to be found as well in the policies determined by ICANN. Only two-letter codes that appear in the ISO2166-1 list are eligible to become a ccTLD. .vl clearly doesn’t appear in that list, which would only be possible if Flanders becomes an independent region.

With a gTLD extension, two-letter codes were excluded from the beginning, so we only had the choice between .vla and .vlaanderen or an English variant. Since .vlaanderen remains the most recognisable, the Flemish authorities opted for the latter.

This DNS Belgium news release was sourced from: