Canada: Have You Registered Your .CA In French?

Last Updated: January 25 2014
Article by Eva Chan

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016

In January 2013, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority ("CIRA") announced its ability to support French character .CA domain names ("French Domain Name").  This means the use of French characters to the left of ".CA".  So organizations can now register domain names in both English and French.  I asked David Fowler, Director of Marketing and Communications at CIRA, about the status of the French Domain Name offering and the benefit of having a French Domain Name for not-for-profit and charitable organizations.

Question:  It has been a year since the launch of French Domain Names.  How has the offering been received?

David: The addition of French accented .CA domain names has been welcomed, especially within the francophone community. Canada is a bilingual country, and now, Canadians can obtain domain names that are truly available in both of Canada's official languages.

Question:  Have not-for-profit or charitable organizations been registering French Domain Names?

David: French accented .CA domain names are available to anyone who is eligible to register a .CA, and registrations are coming in from businesses large and small, as well as the not-for-profit sector and from individuals.

Question:  Why should a not-for-profit or charitable organization register a French Domain Name?

David: French accented .CA domain names provide any organization the opportunity to register a domain name that is correctly spelled in French. In related marketing or promotional materials, it can make domain name legibility easier – and reduce confusion!

CIRA demonstrated the benefits of accents in a tongue and cheek campaign when we launched French accented domain names last year, with our fictitious business called "Le bretzel salé," or the Salted Pretzel. Without the accent, one might read "Le bretzel sale" – the Dirty Pretzel. As you can imagine, it doesn't convey the same image! The accent really can make all the difference.

Question:  Can an organization use the domain name registrar that it used to register its English domain name to register a French Domain Name?

David: The short answer is, it depends. There are a number of CIRA Certified Registrars who offer French accented domain names: a full list is available on CIRA's website ( ). If an organization's existing Registrar offers them, they can simply register the French accented domain name with the same Registrar. If an organization's current Registrar does not offer French character .CAs, then an organization will need to select a new Registrar.

Question:  If an organization has registered a non-accented .CA with a Registrar that does not offer French accented domain names, and now wants to register a French Domain Name, will the organization need to transfer its non-accented .CA domain name to a Registrar who does offer the accented version? 

David:Yes. All the variations of a domain name (the non-accented version, or any permutation with accents) need to be registered with the same Registrar. Transferring a .CA domain to a new Registrar is easy – we've even prepared a how-to video to walk domain name holders through the process: .

Question:  Will organizations have to register each variant of a French Domain Name to reduce the likelihood of others cybersquatting?

David: Not at all. To protect .CA domain name holders, once an individual or organization registers a domain name, all of its variants (i.e., the various possible accented permutations) are reserved exclusively for that domain name holder. No one else can register them. The domain name holder is not obligated to register all the variants, but only those that are registered will "resolve" (or, will get a user to your webpage).

To return to our fictitious Salted Pretzel business owner – if the owner registers lebretzelsalé.ca, then domain name such as, lebrétzélsalé.ca, lebrètzèlsàlé.ca, etc are all reserved exclusively for the business owner.

All the variants of a French character domain name, including a non-accented version (such as must be registered with the same domain name Registrar.

Question:  Does that mean if an organization registered its non-accented .CA domain name before the launch of the French Domain Name offering, all of the variants in French have already been reserved for that organization?   

David: That's correct. To protect .CA Registrants and avoid confusion, the accented variations of any previously registered non-accented domain name are reserved exclusively for the organization or individual that registered it.

Question:  Any last thoughts for not-for-profit and charitable organizations to consider before registering a French Domain Name?

David: French accented domain names are a powerful tool for any organization reaching out to a francophone audience. They provide a clear and easy-to-remember URL – spelled correctly, sending a strong message that an organization takes bilingualism seriously. 

For more information about registering a .CA in French, visit .

CIRA is the organization that manages Canada's .CA domain name registry, develops and implements policies that support Canada's internet community and represents the .CA registry internationally.

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