Prior to 20 September 2022, individuals and organisations with existing Australian domain names should consider making a priority application through the Registrar that manages their current domain name to obtain the corresponding .au direct domain for their existing com.au, net.au or org.au domain.
Once the priority deadline has expired, any third party will be able to register a similar or identical domain name in the new .au domain format.
How was the .au namespace previously used?
The .au namespace is the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for Australia. Domain names ending in .au signal to website users that the person or organisation hosting the domain has a connection with Australia. Examples in other countries include .uk for the United Kingdom, .jp for Japan and .tv for Tuvalu.
The .au Domain Administration Limited (auDA) is an organisation endorsed by the Australian Government to develop and administer the rules for domain names in the .au ccTLD. Each of the existing .au namespaces are used for defined sectors and purposes in Australia, and have stricter licence rules for who can register them, for example:
- “com.au” and “net.au” are only for commercial entities;
- “org.au” is only for charities and not-for-profit organisations;
- “edu.au” is only for registered education institutions;
- “gov.au” is only for Commonwealth, State, Territory and local government bodies;
- “asn.au” is only for incorporated associations, political parties, trade unions, sporting and special interest clubs;
- “id.au” is only for individuals who are citizens or residents;
- “csiro.au” is only for the sole use of the Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Each State and Territory also has its own namespace available to community groups where a geographic name is registered, for example, “bathhurst.nsw.au” and “ballarat.vic.au”.
All namespaces other than edu.au, gov.au and csiro.au are “open” in the sense that members of the public can register domain names within that space provided that they are eligible under the applicable licence rules.
Direct .au domain names now available
On 24 March 2022, the new .au Australian direct domain was launched by the auDA. This has opened up registration for direct domain names using “.au” only.
The new .au direct domain names are shorter, more memorable and easier to type on mobile devices. The .au direct domain names are also for general use (without many of the more stringent limitations of the previous auDA licence rules) – they are available to anyone with a verified Australian presence. For example, www.claytonutz.com.au is now open for registration as www.claytonutz.au.
What should existing .au domain name registrants be aware of?
There is a mechanism in place by which holders of existing .au domain name licences (ie. registrants of com.au, net.au or org.au domain names) created prior to 24 March 2022 can make an application for priority status to register the corresponding domain names in the new .au domain format.
Registrants should take note, that any such priority application must be made on or before 20 September 2022 (for Australians, 9.59am AEST on 21 September 2022).
We recommend that interested parties consider making the priority application as soon as possible as it may be that there are multiple registrants of a domain name – for example, you might hold the com.au domain but someone else holds the corresponding net.au domain. In these cases where it is not clear who will be eligible for the .au domain, the auDA have a Priority Status Tool you can use.
Applications for priority status can be made via your existing auDA accredited Registrars. Fees will vary depending on the Registrar.
After the 20 September 2022 deadline, all remaining .au domain names will become available for registration by the public (subject to certain requirements) on 3 October 2022.
Even if individuals and organisations do not wish to actively use the .au direct domain name they should still consider making a priority application to stop others registering similar or identical domain names in the new .au domain format. Adopting this kind of “defensive” domain name strategy involves some upfront cost, but means you can stop others from using domain names that might harm your business going forward.
If you do not make a priority application within the timeframe specified, you will need to follow the usual auDA complaints process or the .au Dispute Resolution Process, which can be time consuming and far more costly.
Any existing .au domain names will not be affected and will continue to operate if you decide not to make a priority application, provided your registration is up to date.
If you require any assistance with making an application for an .au direct domain name or have any queries in relation to the new .au direct domain, please get in touch.