Foreign companies can now register a second level .cn domain name

From 17 March 2003 onwards, entities worldwide can register second level .cn domain names.

China introduced second level .cn domain names to the public in September last year under the ‘Notice Relating to the Internet Domain Name System’ in China. As a result, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) has implemented a two stage system to facilitate the registration of second level .cn domain names. The first stage was a sunrise period from 6 January to 28 February 2003 which allowed existing third level domain name registrants to “upgrade” their third level domain names to second level domain names. For example: from to The first stage is only relevant to companies in China as prior to 17 March 2003 entities outside China could not apply for domain names with .cn country code top level domains.

However, since 17 March 2003 registration of second level .cn domain names has been made available to registered entities worldwide. Registration will be on a first come first served basis. Foreign entities will no longer be required to set up a company in China before applying for a second level .cn domain name and maintaining a web server or web site in China.

CNNIC has however restricted the registration of certain names as second level .cn domains including:-

  • country code top level domains of other countries;
  • generic top level domains; and
  • common surnames.

CNNIC further restricts the registration of the following categories of names to authorised users only:

  • country and geographic names and abbreviations;
  • abbreviations of the names of government organisations worldwide; and
  • names of government authorities.

The existing dispute resolution policy adopted by CNNIC, which is similar to the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy adopted by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will apply to disputes concerning second level .cn domain names. Under the existing dispute resolution policy an aggrieved party can resolve a domain name dispute either through the authorised dispute resolution providers or the Court system in China. For the former, the authorised dispute resolution providers will only have jurisdiction to order the transfer of the domain name to the claimant. They will not have jurisdiction to award damages.

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Important - The information in this article is provided subject to the disclaimer. The law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly.