top of page

Country Case Study: Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands is a small country in the middle of the North Atlantic with around 55,000 inhabitants.  The national ccTLD, .fo, boasts around 8,300 registrations which on a per capita basis (15 per 100 population) is around double the European median[1].  While in English the country is known as The Faroe Islands, in Faroese it is referred to as Føroyar.

Tindhólmur, Faroe Islands

The local language in the Faroe Islands is Faroese (Føroyskt) which is a North Germanic language derived from Old Norse, similar to Icelandic and to some extent, to the other Scandinavian languages. It is the primary language spoken by the people of the Faroe Islands and is used in all aspects of daily life, as well as in the islands' administration and education systems.

Faroese frequently uses words with non-ascii scripts, prompting the registry to open up for IDN registrations in 2020 under the .fo ccTLD. Upon the launch, 1400 IDNs were registered overnight, accounting for more than 20% of all .fo registrations at that time.

Despite the introduction of IDNs , take up has been hampered for use in webpages and emails, most likely due to a lack of knowledge and difficulty in technical functionality compared to English domains. [1] The median domains per 100 population across European ccTLDs is 7.8.  Source: CENTR.


CEO at Økisnavn, the .fo domain registration platform of the Faroe Islands

Can you provide an overview of the .fo ccTLD and its significance for the Faroe Islands? 

The Faroese Top-Level Domain ".fo" received approval from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) in 1997. Originally, the delegation of the TLD ".fo" was managed by UNI2 in Denmark. However, in 2004, the administration of ".fo" was transferred to the FO-council, marking a significant shift in governance which remains to this day.

The relocation of management from Denmark to the Faroe Islands represented a substantial and commendable advancement. For the Faroese populace, the acquisition of our own country code holds profound significance, symbolizing a pivotal milestone towards greater autonomy. It underscores the imperative that such a critical digital asset be managed by a Faroese entity. The establishment of ".fo" as the designated TLD for the Faroe Islands has played a crucial role in fostering international recognition of our national identity distinct from Denmark. Moreover, it has instilled a sense of pride among Faroese citizens, reaffirming our cultural heritage and ensuring our inclusion on the global digital landscape. 


Despite the longstanding existence of the ccTLD ".fo", a surge in ".fo" domain registrations has only recently been observed. In 2015, following the re-election of members to the FO-council, a novel strategy was devised to encourage greater adoption of ".fo" domains. This strategy included the implementation of reduced pricing and a first-come, first-served approach to domain allocation. The adoption of this new strategy yielded a notable increase in registrations of ".fo" domains, resulting in a current total of 8,300 registrations. 


What motivated the .fo ccTLD registry to implement IDNs? 

The integration of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) into Faroese domains holds significant importance as it enriches the diversity and options available when selecting domain names. In Faroese, there are eight characters used in numerous words (see below).  Workarounds to replace these characters was a common source of frustration leading to a desire to implementation IDNs under the ccTLD


What are/were the main challenges faced in implementing IDNs? 

The primary challenge associated with implementation lay in the requirement for businesses to maintain both IDN and non-IDN versions of their domain names - with the latter sometimes redirecting to the former. Consequently, businesses incur double the expenses to ensure the accessibility of their domain names with IDNs alongside their original non-IDN counterparts. While this may not pose a significant obstacle for larger and more established companies, it presents a less attractive proposition for smaller businesses operating on tighter budgets. 

Furthermore, complications still arise when utilizing IDN characters in email addresses, as they are often displayed in punycode format. This cumbersome display format can prove vexing for users and is a consistent deterrent to opting for IDNs.

Can you describe the technical changes necessary to support IDNs? 

We try to closely implement guidance and rules from ICANN. ICANN also validate our IDN tables as well as language specific rules.

 Were there any legal or regulatory hurdles in implementing IDNs? 

The implementation of IDNs proceeded seamlessly without encountering any hurdles or necessitating alterations to existing laws or regulations. We also added a section in our policies regarding IDNs.



How did you involve the local community in the IDN implementation process? 

Upon the launch of IDNs in the Faroe Islands, we ran an advertising campaign aimed at reaching Faroese citizens through various media, including national television and YouTube advertisements. Central to this campaign was a creative film designed to inform the public about the possibility of registering domains with Faroese IDNs. Leveraging the compact size of the Faroe Islands, we were able to efficiently disseminate this information to a wide audience within a short span of time. 

Furthermore, to facilitate the smooth implementation of IDNs and to prevent potential abuse of valuable domain names, we introduced a promotional initiative. On the date of the IDN launch, all existing domain owners whose domain names could be spelled using Faroese IDNs were granted their corresponding IDN free of charge for a period of six months. For instance, "" obtained the IDN "bygdagø," and "" secured "veðrið.fo." This proactive measure aimed to streamline the implementation process and mitigate the risk of malicious individuals pre-emptively acquiring significant IDN domain names. 


What kind of feedback or concerns did (if relevant) you receive from the community, particularly registrars, regarding IDNs? 

As previously highlighted, a primary concern regarding IDNs pertains to their representation in punycode format within emails and other technical systems (see figure 1 below). This discrepancy poses a significant obstacle to the seamless integration and user experience of IDNs across various digital platforms. It is imperative that efforts are directed towards addressing this prominent issue to ensure the widespread adoption and functionality of IDNs in the future. By resolving the display limitations associated with punycode, we can enhance the usability and accessibility of IDNs, thereby facilitating their broader acceptance and utilization within the digital ecosystem. 

Figure 1



What do you foresee as the impact of IDNs to be on local businesses, individuals, and the overall internet presence of the Faroe Islands? 

For local businesses, the utilization of IDNs can serve as a valuable tool for bolstering their corporate branding efforts. By opting for Faroese website names, these enterprises have the potential to improve their appeal to local clientele, thereby enhancing their market presence and competitive advantage within the Faroese community. Today there are more and more Faroese companies opting to use IDNs in their website names. 

For individuals, the adoption of IDNs presents an opportunity to secure more imaginative and culturally resonant domain names. This not only facilitates the protection and promotion of the Faroese language but also fosters a sense of pride and cultural identity among the Faroese populace. 

On a broader scale, the incorporation of IDNs signifies the Faroe Islands' steadfast commitment to preserving and celebrating its unique cultural heritage and linguistic identity. This embrace of Faroese website names underscores the nation's pride in its distinctive character and reinforces its position within the global digital landscape. 

Launch video of IDNs in Faroese

What kind of uptake of IDNs do you get after the launch? 

We've noticed a rise in IDN domain registrations, with expectations for further growth. Anticipating the elimination of punycode interference, we foresee a substantial increase in IDN adoption. This reflects the recognition of IDNs' significance in promoting linguistic diversity and cultural inclusivity online. 



What measures have you put in place to support registrants and users encountering issues with IDNs? 

We have created a guide on our website detailing the process of forwarding IDN domains to their original non-IDN counterparts. This resource aims to facilitate the implementation of IDNs for businesses, streamlining the transition process and ensuring ease of use. 


How do you educate domain registrants and the general public about the benefits and use of IDNs? 

Ensuring that the general public has the opportunity to utilize their everyday language on the internet is of paramount importance to us. Therefore, we consistently advocate for individuals to obtain domain names with the correct IDN spelling, thus contributing to the preservation and promotion of the Faroese language. 




This article was developed in April 2024 with support from Guðrun Poulsen (CEO at Økisnavn the .fo domain registration platform of the Faroe Islands).

Tindhólmur, Faroe Islands


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page