Can I register a direct .AU domain name?

The new changes to Australian domain names provide businesses with exciting opportunities to protect their intellectual property and develop a stronger online presence.

Last year we discussed the introduction of the new .au domain licensing rules and what this meant for overseas entities wishing to obtain .au domain namespaces such as .com.au or .org .to. These types of domains are called “.at the domain”.

Soon the next exciting development in the domain space will be upon us. As of March 24, 2022, your company will be able to apply for a “.to direct domain” – which is a domain name that does not include the additional .com or .org descriptor, such as yourdomain.au. New “direct domain .au” will allow your company to have a simple and shorter domain name, promoting easier access to your website.

Subject to fulfilling the eligibility conditions, the possibility of registering a “direct domain .auwill depend on whether you currently hold the exact match as a “.au domain”. If you do, it will give you priority allocation. If not and you want to save a “direct domain .au”, you can request it from March 24, 2022, provided it is not on priority hold or someone else requests to record it first.

Priority allocation process

.au direct domainswho have an existing and exactly matching “.au domain” will be assigned by .au Domain Administration Ltd (.auDA) (which is the administrator of the .au domain and the political body in Australia) in accordance with the prioritization process.

All “.au direct domains“which correspond to an existing one”.au domain“will be placed on a 6-month “priority hold” from March 24, 2022 through September 20, 2022, to allow the registrant of an existing “.au domain” to request “priority status” to register the exact match”direct domain .au” (6 month Priority Allocation period). This allows your business to apply for registration of its existing domain name as a “direct .au domain” before it becomes generally available to the public.

For example, since March 24, 2022, your existing “.au domain” such as yourdomain.com.au, will be put on priority hold. You will then have 6 months to apply for Priority Status to register the exact match”direct domain .au“, It is, yourdomain.au. You can request the exact match”direct domain .auvia the participating “.au direct” accredited registrars.

If your application is successful, you should be able to register and start using the “direct domain .au” namespace shortly after creating the request. However, if someone else tries to save the exact match”direct domain .authe name will be considered contested and will be assigned through a priority assignment process. This can happen when two registrants, who are both eligible to register the “direct domain .au“, each own the license for this “.au domain”, but in different namespaces.

For example, one person may own the license for “yourdomain.com.au” and another person for “yourdomain.report.to “. In these cases, the “direct .au domain” will be assigned according to the creation priority of the “.au domain”:

  • Priority category 1: the “.au domain” created on or before the deadline of February 4, 2018; and
  • Priority category 2: the “.au domain” created after the deadline of February 4, 2018.

Candidates in priority category 1 will be given priority over candidates in priority category 2 in the process of assigning the exact corresponding “direct domain .au”.

However, there may also be cases where there is:

  • more than one priority category 1 applicant. In this case, the applicants must agree among themselves on the name of the “direct domain .au” will be assigned, otherwise the domain name will remain unassigned; or
  • only priority category 2 candidates. In this case, the “direct domain .auwill be assigned to the applicant whose creation date of the “.au domain” is the earliest.

If you do not apply for your exact matching “.au direct domain” within the 6-month priority allocation period, the domain will become available to the public on a first-served basis – even if you have the “.au” domain. “corresponding exactly”. Therefore, it is essential that your business considers applying to register a “direct .au domain” of its current exactly matching “.au domain” within this 6 month period.

Eligibility

In addition to the above, in order to register for a “direct domain .au“, you must meet the eligibility criteria under the auDA licensing rules.

Eligibility is based on an entity meeting the “Australian Presence Requirement”. This involves applicants establishing a “clear connection to Australia”, such as citizenship, permanent resident status or being a registered Australian organisation.

There are no attribution rules for a new “direct domain .au“, i.e. where there is no exact matching “.au domain” already registered. This means that entities can choose any name to register as long as it is available and that ‘it is not on the reserved list (such as words that are prohibited by Australian law or pose a risk to operational security, etc.).

And after?

You can request to register either to a new “direct domain .au“or the one that exactly matches your existing one”.au domainthrough Registrar or any other accredited registrar during this period. These license terms can range from 1 to 5 years, with extensions available if eligibility requirements continue to be met.

The new changes provide your business with exciting new opportunities to protect its intellectual property and develop a stronger online presence. However, businesses wishing to protect their existing “.au” domain name and secure an exact match”direct domain .auwill need to apply during the 6-month priority period beginning March 24, 2022.