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What is an Internationalized Domain Name (IDN)?

IDNs are domain names or web addresses represented by local language characters outside of the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) a-z alphabet, numbers (0-9) and hyphens (-).  French IDNs include characters such as à, œ, ç, and ÿ, however, IDNs can also include characters from many other languages. CIRA now supports French character .CA domain names, enabling Canadians to register domain names in both official languages.

What French characters are available?

The following French characters are available for .CA domain names:

é, ë, ê, è

â, à, æ               

ô, œ

ù, û, ü


î, ï


How do I register a .CA with French characters?

Check if your preferred French character .CA domain name is available by typing the .CA name you want to register into the WHOIS search tool at the top right of the page. You can use the virtual keyboard to use accented French characters in your search.

Once you have determined if the .CA name you want is available, select a Registrar. You will have to check with the Registrar you select to see if they sponsor French character .CA domain names, as not all .CA Registrars have elected to participate in this product offering.

How will French character domain names appear in my browser?

Depending on the browser you use, French character domain names will appear differently. For example, if you type www.cirâ.ca in your browser, it might appear as, or it might appear as www.cirâ.ca.

Each browser supports characters outside of the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) a-z alphabet, numbers (0-9) and hyphens (-) and determines how they are displayed differently. Generally, non-ASCII characters are supported in the following browsers:


Earliest Supporting Version















Are there any security concerns related to IDNs?

Research continues to show that IDNs do not increase security risks for Internet users. In particular, they are not being used to facilitate phishing (fraudulent websites that pass off as legitimate websites to collect your sensitive or personal information). For more information, see the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) report, which details why IDNs do not materially increase risks related to phishing.

I already have a .CA - do I have to register all the French character variants of my domain name to prevent someone else from registering them?

CIRA is bundling the characters in domain names to prevent the registration of variants of domain names by different Registrants.

For example, only the Registrant of has the right to register cï and cî

What if I don't want a whole bundle of domain names - I just want one.

There is no need to register all the .CA variants in an administrative bundle. As long as you hold one of the names in an administrative bundle, all the others are reserved for you.

For example, if you hold cirà.ca, then the variants and cirâ.ca are reserved for you and no one else is able to register them.

However, although these domain names are reserved for you, they will not automatically be active. The only way to make these domain names active and to resolve on the Internet is to register them.

Can I just register the French character .CA name?

Absolutely, you can choose to only register the French character .CA domain name (e.g. cirâ.ca) and not the English (i.e., ASCII) variant (

Can I still transfer my .CA domain names in an administrative bundle to a new Registrar or Registrant?

As all variants of a .CA domain name can only be registered by the same Registrant, if you choose to transfer one domain name in an administrative bundle, all the variants of the domain name within the administrative bundle must be transferred at the same time.

A separate transfer request must be initiated for each of the registered domain names in the administrative bundle. Until all the registered domain names in the administrative bundle have been transferred, any in progress transfers will be classified as pending. If all the domain names in  the administrative bundle aren't transferred within five days,  the transfer will be cancelled.

Can accented French characters be used for .CA email addresses?

Supporting French characters for email addresses is not within CIRA’s ability to control; it is a function of email client and server software. Support for non-ASCII characters for email is far from uniform so functionality will vary.