Launch of the .au domain name extension: what you need to know

Since March 24, 2022 it will be possible to register domain names with .au as extension. In this article, Simon Gapes discusses versioning, how a .au domain can be secured, and what happens when two competing parties want the same domain.

Until now, it was necessary to use a “third level” .au domain name such as “.com.au”, “.net.au” or “.org.au”. The impending publication of .au domain names on March 24, 2022 will enable the use of shorter and more accurate domain names and website addresses, which will be particularly useful for website users accessing websites on mobile phones.

For example, Griffith Hack may register and use the domain name griffithhack.au as well as (or instead of) griffithhack.com or griffithhack.com.au

.au domain names will be available for registration through a “priority allocation process”, whereby .au domain names are reserved for registration by owners of existing third-level .au domain names during six months. From March 24, 2022 through September 20, 2022, owners of existing domain names com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, id.au, gov.au, and edu.au have priority to register the . to exactly matching domain names. For example, Griffith Hack may register griffithhack.au, as we already own griffithhack.com.au. As of September 21, 2022, .au domain names are available for registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

.au domain names that do not match existing third-level .au domain names are immediately available for registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

How to secure a .au domain name?

To own a .au domain name, the owner must meet the “Australian presence” requirements that apply to existing domain names such as .com.au. Australian presence requirements can be met by a number of factors, including the owner being an Australian citizen, the owner being an Australian company, or the owner holding an Australian trade mark application or registration for a trade mark that matches the name of domain.

Disputes over ownership of a .au domain name

Where two parties are eligible to own a .au domain name, for example if one party owns a com.au domain name and the other party owns the corresponding net.au domain name, priority is given to the owner of a domain name registered before February 4, 2018 (when the release of .au domain names was first announced).

If more than one party holds domain names dated before February 4, 2018, then the parties must negotiate among themselves who will be assigned the .au domain name. Where multiple applicants hold matching third-level domain names dated after February 4, 2018, the .au domain name will be awarded to the applicant who first registered their third-level domain name.

Owners of third-level domain names registered before February 4, 2018 have priority over owners of third-level domain names registered after that date.