On May 3, 2012, owners of .FR and other French country code top-level domains ("ccTLDs") will be able to apply for their domain name registrations in Spanish, German, and French translations. This is an excellent opportunity for European domain name holders to reach local customers in their native written language.

AFNIC, the organization that operates French ccTLDs, will launch IDNs or Internationalized Domain Names for 6 different ccTLD's all at once, including: .FR, .RE, .TF, .WF, .PM, and .YT. The advantage of IDNs is that they can contain characters outside of the ASCII character sets, allowing users to include regional characters such as accents, cedillas, or tildes (e.g., é, ç, Ñ). Using these new IDNs will extend the number of characters from 37 to 67, to include these 30 new characters:

Click here to view table

AFNIC will launch a two-month "Sunrise period/Grandfathering phase" on May 3, 2012, during which time trademark owners can register domain names that are the same or similar to their trademarks in an attempt to stop any potential intellectual property disputes. This means that after July 3, 2012, these IDNs will be available to all on a first-come, first-served basis.

It is important to note that in order to qualify for the Sunrise period you must already own, or be in the process of registering a new, French .FR domain or other TLD managed by AFNIC. You must also have a local presence within a European Union member country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein.