On November 27, 2018, the Serbian ccTLD authority (Serbian National Internet Domain Registry - RNIDS) announced the start of a new sunrise period for registration of domain names under <.rs> country code top level domain (ccTLD).
This sunrise period will last from noon on December 10, 2018 until noon on March 5, 2019, and it will concern registration of domain names that contain specific IDN characters (IDN – Internationalized Domain Name). These domain names are specific because they contain at least one character that is displayed in language-specific script or alphabet, unlike standard domain names which are completely based on ASCII characters (ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange).
In particular, characters from Serbian, Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Montenegrin, Romanian, Romany, Slovak, Slovene and Vlach languages will be supported by these new domain names. IDN characters whose registration will be allowed are provided in the table below along with their ASCII equivalents.
The key rules of this sunrise period are the following:
- Within the sunrise period, domain names with new IDN characters are allowed for registration only to registrants of existing <.rs> domain names;
- Registrants of <.rs> domain names that register a standard domain name under <.rs> ccTLD within the sunrise period are also entitled to request registration of domain names with new IDN characters;
- Registrants of existing <.rs> domain names may register only domain names in accordance with the rule “one ASCII character one IDN character”. This means that even if some specific letters are commonly represented by several ASCII letters (for example “Š” as “SH” or “Č” as “CH”), benefits of early registration will not be extended to the representation of several letters with one IDN character;
- There is no explicit limitation on the number of IDN characters that new domain names may contain. However, the amount of these characters is objectively limited by the number of ASCII characters that may be converted into IDN characters. This rule applies, of course, only during the sunrise period, and upon the expiration of the same, registrants are not bound by existing domain names but are free to choose whichever domain name they like;
- New domain names containing IDN characters must be registered with the same registrar with which the existing <.rs> domain name is registered;
- Fees for registration of domain names with new IDN characters will be the same as fees for registration of standard <.rs> domain names (such as <.rs>, <.co.rs>, <.org.rs>, <.in.rs>, etc.).
The specific “one ASCII character – one IDN character” rule means that only one ASCII character can be replaced with one IDN character that is considered to be its equivalent. For example, a registrant of the domain name <shkola.rs> during the sunrise period may only benefit from early registration of the domain <šhkola.rs>, but not from registration of the domain name <škola.rs> (“Škola” is the Serbian word for “school”). The reason for this is that although the characters “s” and “h” in ASCII code make the phonetic equivalent of “š”, only the character “s” from ASCII is considered to be equivalent to “š” for the purposes of this sunrise period (as it can be seen from the table above).
Upon the expiry of the sunrise period, <.rs> domain names with new IDN characters will be free for registration by all interested parties.
In addition, upon the expiry of the sunrise period for <.rs> domain names, a new sunrise period for <.срб> domain names with new IDN characters will be launched on noon March 5, 2019. As <.срб> ccTLD represents a Cyrillic IDN, this means that new Cyrillic IDN characters will be introduced. So far, under this IDN it was possible to use only Cyrillic characters from the Serbian language, while the introduction of new IDN characters will allow use of characters from other languages that use Cyrillic characters, such as Russian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, etc.
To conclude, the introduction of new IDN characters will definitely broaden the freedom of choice for potential registrants and may consequently lead to an increase in the number of registrations (currently, a little over 100.000 domain names are registered under <.rs> ccTLD). Yet, it remains to be seen whether the phrase used by RNIDS in promotion of this sunrise period (From December 10 <.rs> domain will be worth more) will indeed be true.