Sark wants its own TLD and has just cleared a major hurdle on the path to obtaining one.
A recent article in The Register alerted us to the decades-long effort of the tiny Channel Island to obtain an ISO alpha code, which in turn would make the territory eligible to ask IANA to delegate a new ccTLD.
IANA policy is clear on what makes a territory eligible for a ccTLD:
The IANA is not in the business of deciding what is and what is not a country. The selection of the ISO-3166-1 list as a basis for country code top-level domain names was made with the knowledge that ISO has a procedure for determining which entities should be and should not be on that list.
In other words, IANA defers to the judgement of ISO, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). For a time ISO also had a straighforward criteria for eligibility for inclusion onto its ISO-3166-1 list. Inclusion was automatic if the geographic division was recognized by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) as a separate territory.
This policy of automatic inclusion changed in the early 2010s and ISO now evaluates petitions on a case by case basis. The Register article indicates that this change was made at least in part to make things more difficult for Sark. After being rejected once for an ISO code, the person behind Sark’s petition made an appeal based on the fact that this territory is recognized by the UNSD.
After being rejected twice more, Sark make a new petition in 2019, this time with the backing of the powerful British Standards Institute. In late February of this year, ISO decided to support this petition.
There’s still a long way to go before Sark’s desired .cq domain name is delegated. First, ISO will assign a specific code. Sark has requested CQ, but this is entirely up to ISO. Next, Sark needs to apply to IANA for the creation of the ccTLD.
The last case of this nature was South Sudan, which was assigned its ISO code in 2011. .ss wasn’t delegated until January 2019, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should expect an eight-year wait for the delegation of .cq. It wasn’t until August 2018 that South Sudan filed its application was filed to IANA, so the time between application and delegation was less than one year.
Sark is keen to get its ccTLD and it appears to already be determined which organization would have oversight over the domain. If Sark enters into the appropriate partnerships to meet IANA’s technical criteria for delgation, things could theoretically move quickly.