Bureau Telecommunicatie & Post
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New ISO country code “CW” for Curaçao, former island territory of the Netherlands Antilles

On October 10th, 2010, the island territory of Curacao gained a new constitutional status as an autonomous country within the Dutch Kingdom. Prior to this date, Curaçao as an island territory formed part of the Netherlands Antilles. The other island territories forming part of the Netherlands Antilles were St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and Saint Eustatius. As a result of this new constitutional status, Curaçao was officially assigned the following two-letter country code under the ISO standard ISO 3166-1: CW. 

St. Maarten, which also became an autonomous country within the Dutch Kingdom was assigned the SX country code. The remaining former Netherlands Antilles islands, Bonaire, Saba and Saint Eustatius (BES islands) became Dutch municipalities and were assigned the BQ country code. Since the former Netherlands Antilles has been dismantled, the former AN country code has been deleted from the ISO 3166-1 list as well.

Meaning of ISO country code

ISO 3166 country codes are used worldwide as abbreviations to identify countries in contexts such as postal addresses, Internet domain names and computerized financial transactions. With the assignment of the new CW country code to Curaçao, the Internet country code for Curaçao has also been registered as .CW (“dot CW”). The .CW code as such is the Internet country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for Curaçao. This process has been duly coordinated and authorized by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which are the global entities responsible for top level domain name management. Customers who were using the the former .AN domain names can opt for the new country codes (.CW, .SX or .BQ) depending on the respective island they live in.

Consequences new ISO country code

As a consequence of these recent changes the community of Curaçao has found itself with several inconveniences with regard to some online services and activities. Most of these issues relate to the fact that Curaçao is not recognized as an autonomous/independent country in most online systems because outdated country (code) lists are used. The international organizations offering worldwide services may find their products not being purchased or efficiently utilized on the islands. As a consequence the help-desks of these organizations are continuously hampered with a simple problem that can be avoided by updating the system.  Some of the most critical issues are listed below:

Curaçao does not appear as an autonomous/independent country in the countries drop down list on websites. Purchasing goods and services online is therefore hindered;

Curaçao is not recognized as a country which limits the use of certain applications based on the right of use in a particular geographic region. The downloading of digital content, App updates and access to specific services including social media are a few examples in this category;

Payment and financial transactions are no longer possible since the information on the credit card does not match the existing countries (the Netherlands Antilles is no longer a valid country);

CW Registry of Curaçao customers with a .CW domain name cannot register for cloud services like the ones offered by iCloud and Google.


Bureau Telecommunicatie en Post as the telecommunications regulatory authority in Curaçao requests the attention of all international organizations and businesses on the newly assigned country code. We kindly request all parties utilizing a drop down list for selection of countries either on their website or in their internal applications to update this list by adding Curaçao as a country as well as the update relating to the other mentioned islands. Please be referred to the official updated ISO 3166 list at www.iso.org/iso/home/standards/country_codes.htm and updated .CW domain information at www.iana.org/domains/root/db/cw.html. By doing so the normal business activities will be maintained and the quality of service guaranteed.

BT&P also requests the attention of those organizations and businesses offering services and digital content for which user eligible rights are needed on the country and/or geographic region of residence of the customers, to update the related database that contains such information.

For questions or additional information please contact Mr. Leonardo de Abreu Ladeira, Senior Policy & Market Regulation Advisor, Bureau Telecommunicatie en Post, at telephone number +(599-9) 463-1700 or via e-mail at L.deAbreuLadeira@burtel.cw.

(BT&P publication period: 2010)