Two character domain names are here!

We strive to make registering a domain at Name.com as easy and straightforward as possible. Unfortunately, the domain name industry can sometimes be complicated and difficult to understand (see name collisions). In an effort to help you find one of the shortest and most memorable New Domains around—two character domain names!—here is a simple guide to help you make the most of it and understand why this release is happening now.

Which New Domains does this apply to? When do they release?

If you want full details on two-character New TLDs and why they were previously blocked, keep reading after this section. But here’s the key information on two-character New Domain name.

Nothing related to ICANN is ever straightforward, so the release will vary by TLD. Luckily Rightside registry released all of its possible two character New Domains at the same time: MARCH 18th 11AM MT. This includes TLDs like .NINJA, .SOCIAL, .ATTORNEY, .LAWYER, .REPUBLICAN, .DEMOCRAT and many more. You can download the full list here. It includes more than 20,000 domains, most of which are available for less than $5,000. This is significantly lower than the sale price of existing two-letter domain names for other TLDs.

Non-Rightside TLDs will be releasing two character domain names on an ongoing basis and it is our intention to update this blog post as those release dates become available. Make sure to check back for updates.

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A little bit of background:

At the start of the New TLD program, ICANN took steps to protect entities and organizations that were worried New TLDs would cause confusion or force them to register New TLDs. ICANN responded by blocking certain SLDs in all of the New TLDs. These SLD blocks are still in place. It is not possible to register olympic.anynewtld, redcross.anynewtld or any one of a number SLDs related to similar organizations.

Some governments also expressed concerns about registering their names and two letter country code (ex. ‘us’ for the United States) in all New TLDs. To appease these governments, ICANN decided to block the names and variations of many countries.  For example, solomonislands.anynewtld, solomon-islands.anynewtld, and sb.anywnewtld are all unavailable for registration.

At the same time, ICANN also blocked all two character SLDs. The reasoning behind this was never made explicitly clear by ICANN since one character SLDs and SLDs with more than three characters were allowed. Whatever the reasoning that led to this decision, until now domain names like 01.anynewtld or n4.anynewtld were made unavailable for registration.

The problem:

ICANN’s blocks are problematic on a number of fronts, but for the two character release, two issues are most applicable. First, many New Domain operators have argued that country code domain names would not cause confusion and should not be blocked at all. For instance, the country code for Malaysia is MY. Many New TLD applicants have argued that a domain name like “my.app” would not cause confusion for registrants and have pointed out that domain names like “my.com” exist.

The second issue with ICANN’s solution was that blocking all two character names blocked a lot of terms for no readily apparent reason. The harm that led to the block of a term like 01.anynewtld (a blocked term)  compared to 001.anynewtld (an allowed term) was never fully explained.

The (partial) solution:

Now, months after the New TLD program launched, ICANN has finally started to allow New TLDs to exempt themselves from the block on some 2 character domain names. Starting this year, SLDs that are number|number (88), number|letter (8z), or letter|number (z8) will be available for registration.

It is important to note that letter|letter domains remain unavailable. This continued block has largely been attributed to the country code concern discussed above. Unfortunately, there is no definite timeline in place for this release although Name.com expects some letter|letter domain names to become available in new TLDs before the second half of this year.

TL;DR version:

Two character domains were blocked in new TLDs until recently. Now some two character domain names are being unblocked in some of our favorite new TLDs. Check back for future release dates.