• Domain Services
  • Trademark Services
  • Support

Understanding the .CN Top-Level Domain


The top-level domain (TLD) .cn is the country code TLD of China. It serves as an identifier for Chinese businesses and entities online. In the last decade, the .cn domain registrations have grown exponentially as more Chinese businesses go digital. 

This article lists important milestones for the .cn TLD, different second-level domains (SLDs) under .cn, and the requirements for registration. 

What Does the .CN TLD Represent?

The .cn TLD has been China's official country code TLD since 1990 and represents the country in the digital space. It’s used mainly by the Chinese government, educational institutes, administrative agencies, and businesses operating in the country. 

The China Internet and Network Information Center or CNNIC maintains the .cn TLD registry. It’s a branch of the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information. CNNIC only maintains the registry and prescribes rules regarding registration; it doesn’t provide registration services. 

Timeline of Key Developments of the .CN TLD

Here is the timeline of milestones of the .cn TLD:




The top-level domain name for China .cn was registered.


The Computer Network Information Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences gathered network experts in Beijing to study domain name systems from various countries and proposed the domain name system for the country.


The Computer Network Information Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences completed the installation of China's national top-level domain (CN) server.


The State Council's Informatization Working Group issued "Provisional Administrative Measures for Internet Domain Name Registration in China", authorizing the Chinese Academy of Sciences to establish and manage the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).


According to the first "Statistical Report on Internet Development in China" by CNNIC, there were 620,000 internet users in China, 4,066 registered .cn domain names, and about 1,500 world wide web (www) websites.


According to CNNIC statistics, there were about 22.5 million internet users in China, 122,099 registered .cn domain names, and about 265,405 websites.


The Supreme People's Court issued an interpretation on several issues related to applying law in the trial of civil disputes related to computer network domain names.


The Ministry of Information Industry authorized CNNIC to manage China's top-level domain name CN and the Chinese domain name system and operate the domain name root server.


The registration of second-level domain names under China's national top-level domain .cn was officially opened, allowing users to directly register second-level domain names under the .cn top-level domain.


The Ministry of Information Industry issued Order No. 30, announcing the new “China Internet Domain Name Management Measures.”


According to CNNIC statistics, there were 2,592,410 domain names in the country, of which 1,096,924 were registered under .cn TLD.


The official website of the 29th Olympic Games officially launched the primary domain name of .beijing2008.cn.


According to CNNIC statistics, there were 11.931 million domain names in the country, of which 9.002 million were registered under .cn TLD.


China's .cn domain name registration volume surpassed Germany's .de domain with 12.188 million, becoming the largest national top-level domain in the world.


According to CNNIC statistics, there were 16,826,198 domain names in the country, of which 13,572,326 were registered under .cn.


CNNIC held the First China Domain Name Conference in Beijing and released the China Domain Name Industry Report.


CNNIC published the latest statistics showing the number of registrations for China's national top-level domain .cn surpassed the 20 million mark.


The total number of domain names in China reached 33.8 million, and the number of .cn domain names was 17.86 million.

What SLDs Can Be Registered in China and What Are the Requirements?

The registry for .cn domains have designated two categories of .cn second-level domains (SLDs) that are dedicated for specific types of entities. The two categories are:

1. Generic SLDs

The generic category contains nine SLD, with two internationalized SLDs. 


    Designated for

  • .ac.cn

    Scientific and research institutes

  • .com.cn


  • .edu.cn

    Educational institutes

  • .gov.cn

    Government agencies

  • .mil.cn

    Defense institutions

  • .net.cn

    Private internet companies

  • .org.cn

    Non-profit organizations

  • .政务.cn

    Government services

  • .公益.cn

    Non-profit organizations


The domains .gov.cn, .edu.cn, .mil.cn, and .政务.cn are restricted and have special requirements. For instance, a domain name with a .gov.cn extension must be registered according to the requirements set by the registry. 

To register restricted domains, the applicant should mail the following to the CNNIC via a registrar:

  • Domain name registration form

  • Copy of applicant’s identity (for .gov.cn, the entity must be from the government)

  • Copy of applicant’s contact identification

  • Other materials/documents explaining the reasons for acquiring the requested domain

2. Administrative divisions SLDs

The administrative category of .cn SLDs comprise two-letter abbreviations for each of China’s administrative regions. There are 34 administrative .cn SLDs. 

What Can Be Registered as a Domain Under the .CN TLD?

The domains ending in .cn TLD must follow the rules set by the registry. Here are the rules:

Characters: The domain name can have case-sensitive Latin alphabets (a to z), Arabic numerals (0 to 9), and half-angle hyphens. However, the hyphen can’t be used twice consecutively or at the beginning or end of the domain name. 

Length: The maximum length of the domain is 63 characters. 

International characters: Internationalized domain names can be registered under the .cn TLD. Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese characters can be used. The maximum length of 63 applies after the international characters are translated using Punycode (Unicode to ASCII). 

Other Rules: Anything against the constitution, jeopardizes national security, or is discriminatory or disparaging can’t be used in a domain name. The same applies to the website contents. 

Can .CN TLD Be Internationalized?

In June 2010, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the internationalized country code TLD for China. The two internationalized versions of .cn are .中国 (.cn in Simplified Chinese) and .中國 (.cn in Traditional Chinese). 

CNNIC also introduced internationalized versions of TLDs .com and .net. However, these are only available through domestic registrars, as they have yet to be recognized by ICANN. 

Who Can Register a .CN TLD?

As such, anyone can register for a .cn domain. However, they must provide personal or business identification documents to verify their identity. 

Restricted SLDs, including .gov.cn, .edu.cn, and .mil.cn may only be registered by entities the extensions are dedicated for. Applicants must provide a domain registration form along with identity documents. 

Before 2012, only entities from within China could register a .cn domain. However, the conditions have been relaxed since. 

Why Register a .CN Domain?

Registering a .cn domain can be beneficial in many ways. Here are some of the reasons why you may consider getting a .cn TLD:

  • Protection of user rights as per China’s laws

  • Establishment of a connection with the local market

  • Better discoverability in the country

  • Conducive to the Chinese Internet security laws

  • Availability of many domain names

  • Use of internationalized domain names to cater to local audience

How Many .CN Domains Have Been Registered?

As of August 2023, over 20 million .cn domain names have been registered, according to CNNIC. Here are the statistics from the last decade:



The .cn TLD is very popular in China. It provides a way for individuals and businesses to show a connection with the country. Registering a .cn domain is easy, and anyone can do it online. However, certain second-level .cn domains are restricted.