In August 2021, .au Domain Administration Limited (auDA) announced that a new .au direct namespace would be made available to Australians from 24 March 2022. It does not replace existing Australian namespaces such as com.au, net.au, edu.au, gov.au and org.au. Instead, it complements these, along with:
- Making it possible for users–and brands–to have shorter URLs that are also easier to type, and easier to display on mobile devices.
- Offering a greater choice of trusted Australian domains that are easier to remember.
The new namespace will still be subject to auDAs licensing rules. However, individuals, businesses, associations, and government entities with an existing Australian namespace won’t automatically qualify for the corresponding .au direct namespace. A Priority Allocation Process has been established, and in this guide we will break down the process and the steps you need to follow.
Who Should Register a .au Namespace?
We recommend any business or entity with an existing Australian namespace– such as com.au, net.au, edu.au, gov.au and org.au–also register for a .au direct namespace. You won’t give up your current namespace, but will instead have it redirect to the shorter, direct namespace. It is easier to remember, to type on mobile devices, and to use in marketing material.
How Can I Register?
The .au direct namespace only launches on 24 March 2022. In terms of the Priority Allocation Process, all Australian namespaces in the registry prior to that date will be reserved for a six-month Priority Allocation Period. Businesses and entities with an existing .au URL will need to apply for Priority Status in that six-month period.
Applications can be made via your current .au domain registrar, or any other accredited registrar only once the namespace launches in March 2022. Your eligibility for any .au namespace–including your existing ones–will be verified when you submit your application. It is important to remember that the .au direct name you are applying for must be an exact match for your existing domain name to be considered for Priority Status.
New domain names that don’t match any existing names can also be registered from 24 March 2022, as long as all other licensing rules are still met.
Who Is Eligible for a .au Direct Namespace?
The licensing rules for an .au namespace are the same as that for applying for any other Australian namespace. The primary criterion is that the person or entity applying must have a verified Australian presence and satisfy other eligibility and allocation criteria for the namespace being applied for. AuDA updated the Domain Administration Rules: Licensing policy in February 2021 to reflect new rules. This includes new requirements for foreign entities that rely on an Australian trademark to meet the Australian presence requirement.
How Does the Priority Allocation Process Work?
The Priority Allocation Process recognises that in a small number of cases, more than one applicant could have a legitimate claim for the same .au direct name. When this happens, an applicant with an existing .com.au name is not automatically prioritised over an applicant with the same .net.au name. Instead:
- Names registered on or before 4 February 2018 will be seen as category 1 applicants.
- Names registered after 4 February 2018 are category 2 applicants.
- If only one is a category 1 applicant, they will be allocated the name on an initial one-year licence shortly after applying. After one year they will be able to renew the licence for up to five years.
- If all applications for a single name are from category 2 applicants, the licence will be awarded to the registrant whose name was registered earliest.
- If all applications are from category 1 applicants, they will need to negotiate with each other to decide who gets the domain. If negotiations are unsuccessful, the .au name is reserved until an agreement is reached or there is only one active application. Each application for a reserved name will need to be renewed yearly.
Names will be allocated almost immediately for uncontested domain names and contested names where one applicant has priority over the others, as outlined above. However, this only applies during the six-month Priority Allocation Period.
What Happens After the Priority Allocation Period?
All .au domain names registered prior to 24 March 2022 are automatically reserved for Priority Status applications for a six-month period. Eligible businesses, individuals, and entities with an existing com.au, net.au, edu.au, gov.au or org.au domain will need to apply for a .au domain in that period. Once the Priority Allocation Period ends, any names not claimed or reserved will be made available to the public. Any eligible person will be able to register for available .au direct namespaces, and they will then be allocated on a first come, first served basis. You are not obligated to apply for a .au direct namespace that matches your existing .au domain during the Priority Allocation Period but failing to do so can limit your chances of being able to register the domain later.
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