Special characters in domain names

Nowadays, special characters are allowed in your domain name. While this can be a novel feature, it is good to know a little about how it works, because it can also cause some problems. In this section, I discuss the Scandinavian characters æ, ø, å, ä and ö. The same applies for accents (diacritics).

When you write æ, ø, å, ä or ö in a domain name, this not actually what is used. Instead, there is something called "Punycode" which is an Internet standard. Software and web browsers can have trouble correctly interpreting these unless an extra software/web browser package is installed. Without the package, the software does not understand what to do with æ, ø, å, ä and ö.

For instance, Internet Explorer 6 (and older versions of IE) cannot handle special characters without the help of a plugin. The best solution is to upgrade Internet Explorer or install Firefox.

Below are some examples of what domain names may actually be:

ærlig.no   xn--rlig-uoa.no
ørn.no   xn--rn-kka.no
åse.no   xn--se-xia.no
ärlig.se   xn--rlig-koa.se



When it comes to email, it is good to know that also older email programs can have difficulty with special characters. To make sure email arrives, write the address with the right "Punycode".

For instance, say domain östen.se has email address info@östen.se. Those who send emails to this address need to write info@xn--sten-4qa.se in order for the email to arrive.

To figure out the real address, I used a conversion site idnaconv.phlymail.de
There are several sites like this one on the Internet. Search "Punycode".

In other words, we highly recommend that you also register a domain comprising only the English alphabet when you register your domain and decide to use special characters. You can link both domains to your website.