Internationalization of Email Addresses

Document Type Expired Internet-Draft (individual)
Author John Klensin 
Last updated 2005-07-19
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This Internet-Draft is no longer active. A copy of the expired Internet-Draft can be found at


Internationalization of electronic mail addresses is, if anything, more important than the already-completed effort for domain names. In most of the contexts in which they are used, domain names can be hidden within or as part of various types of references. Email addresses, by contrast, are crucial: use of names of people or organizations as, or as part of, the email local part is, for obvious reasons, a well-established tradition on the network. Preventing people from spelling their names correctly is, in the long term, inexcusable. At the same time, email addresses pose a number of special problems -- they are more difficult than simple domain names in some respects, but actually easier in others. This document discusses the issues with internationalization of email addresses, explains why some obvious approaches are incompatible with the definitions and use of Internet mail, and proposes a solution -- for both addressing and email internationalization more generally -- that is likely to serve users and the network well for the long term.


John Klensin (

(Note: The e-mail addresses provided for the authors of this Internet-Draft may no longer be valid.)