Should I register the new .au direct domain name for my business?
.au direct domain names – like yourbusinessname.au – will be available as a new option for Australian Internet users from March 2022.
Australian-based businesses can register the new direct generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) to protect their brand and maintain control of their online presence throughout the world. Direct names like .au are designed for simple use by anybody who has a verified connection to Australia and wants to establish or manage an internet presence for themselves or
If you already own a domain name in any other Australian .au namespace (such as com.au or id.au), you can apply for Priority Status to register its exact match in the new .au direct during the six-month window after launch.
Learn how you can secure your .au direct domain and the various benefits and drawbacks of adding another domain name to your business inventory.
About .au direct names and eligibility rules
.au direct names will be for general use meaning any person or organisation can register them, provided they meet the eligibility criteria in the auDA Rules: Licensing.
To be eligible for a .au direct name you must have an Australian presence, which includes being a citizen or permanent resident, or being an organisation registered in Australia. (The full definition of an Australian presence is in the definitions section of the auDA Rules: Licensing).
You can choose any name you like as long as it:
a) is available to be registered,
b) meets the syntax requirements, and
c) does not appear on the Reserved Names list, as set out in the Licensing Rules.
This is different to the domain namespaces which are intended for specific use:
- com.au and net.au for commercial entities – For commercial entities, such as companies (with an ABN or ACN as registered through ASIC), and businesses (registered with state governments).
- org.au for not-for-profit entities – For registered charities and non-profit organisations
- edu.au for educational institutions – For educational institutions registered at federal or state level.
Those namespaces have eligibility rules restricting which kinds of entities can register in them; and allocation rules that specify how a name needs to relate to a registrant or their organisation.
How will I be able to register .au direct domain names?
You’ll be able to register .au direct domain names through Niche Domains or any accredited domain registrar or reseller.
As with names in other .au namespaces, prices will vary between registrars. Niche Ignite aim to provide competitively priced domain name registration and management with local support for Tasmanian businesses and not for profit organisations. .au domains will be priced the same as the other .au name spaces.
There will be no changes to domain names in the existing namespaces (com.au, net.au, id.au, org.au, asn.au, edu.au and gov.au etc.) as a result of .au direct names being launched. They will continue to exist and you’ll still be able to use, register and renew them as you do now.
How will .au direct names be launched?
When .au direct names launch in March 2022, registrants with existing domain names in existing namespaces (e.g. ending in com.au, org.au, asn.au etc.) will have the chance to apply for Priority Status to register the exact match of their domain name as a .au direct name.
The process by which registrants apply for and are allocated these names, referred to as the Priority Allocation Process, is set out in the .au Namespace Implementation Policy.
Registrants of existing com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, id.au, gov.au and edu.au domain names will be able to participate in the Priority Allocation Process.
For example, the registrant of yourbusinessname.com.au can apply for priority to register yourbusinessname.au.
When .au direct names launch on 24th March 2022, for the first six months a Priority Allocation Process will be in place that will enable you:
- An opportunity to apply for the exact match of your existing .au domain names
- To register ‘new’ .au direct names that don’t exist in any other .au namespace (e.g. com.au, net.au)
Who can apply for priority status?
Registrants of .au domain names in the registry immediately before launch are eligible to take part in the Priority Allocation Process.
You will be able to apply for Priority Status via the registrar of your existing .au domain name (for example, Niche Domains), or any other registrar or reseller offering direct .au domain names when the priority allocation period opens in March 2022.
If you are assigned a name through the Priority Application Process, it will be registered to you on an initial one-year licence. You may renew your license for five years after the first year is up.
Uncontested domain names
In most situations, there is just one registrant who can apply for a reserved .au direct name since they are the sole owner of its match in another .au namespace. An uncontested name is used to describe this situation.
In these cases, the applicant will be allocated the name on an initial one-year licence shortly after applying for Priority Status.
Even if your matching .au direct name is uncontested, you must apply for Priority Status if you wish to secure it, otherwise it will becomes publicly available on a first-come, first-served basis at the end of the six-month Priority Allocation Period.
What about contested domain names?
In a tiny number of circumstances, there may be more than one registrant qualified for a reserved .au direct name because the same name may exist in various namespaces. A disputed name is one in which there are multiple claimants to the same name. This is referred to as a contested domain.
- Mark is the registrant of yourbusinessname.com.au
- Mary is the registrant of yourbusinessname.net.au
- Trent is the registrant of yourbusinessname.org.au
- All three hold names that were in the registry before the launch of .au direct.
Mark, Mary and Trent would all be eligible to apply for Priority Status to register yourbusinessname.au
In these cases, how the .au direct name is allocated depends on each applicant’s priority category.
How the priority categories determine who is allocated a contested .au direct name
Once you’ve submitted it, your Priority Status application is categorised based on the creation date of the domain name on which the application is based:
Priority category 1: Names created on or before the cut-off date of 4 February 2018
Priority category 2: Names created after the cut-off date of 4 February 2018
e.g. you hold yourbusinessname.com.au and it has a creation date of 1 March 2019, so your application for getyour.au is classified as priority category 2.
Where there are multiple applications for a contested name, the following principles apply:
Category 1 applicants have priority over category 2 applicants;
Where there are multiple category 1 applications, the name is allocated on agreement/negotiation between the category 1 applicants;
Where there are only category 2 applicants, the name is allocated to the applicant with the earliest creation date.
When an agreement is reached:
- Unsuccessful applicants withdraw their applications;
- The name is allocated to the successful applicant
Failure of agreement between multiple category 1 applications
- The .au direct domain name remains reserved;
- Applicants will need to renew their application on a yearly basis;
- The name remains reserved until there is one active application.
The Australian Domain Authority (auDA) will release a tool in the coming months which will enable registrants to determine their priority category. Subscribe to the Niche Ignite Newsletter and we’ll let you know as soon as the tool is published.
For further information, download this auDA guide to the Priority Allocation Process Overview or contact us at Niche Ignite if you have further questions about the .au Direct Domain space.
Why should I register a .au Direct domain name to match my existing .com.au domain name?
Under the auDA .au Direct Implementation Policy, any person/entity in Australia is entitled to register any non-reserved .au domain name regardless of whether the name matches the existing domain or business name. This is not applicable when the exact name is a registered trademark in Australia. .au Direct domain names are not subject to the same protection as .com.au, .net.au and .id.au
After the 6 month Priority Process has passed anyone in Australia can register the .au variation of a domain name, regardless of whether they are trading as that name.
This means a competitor can register a .au Direct name matching your business name, product, event and point it to their website.
The six month Priority Process is intended to give businesses with prior use of a name on their .com.au the first opportunity to register another matching .AU variation for themselves or through an associated entity without being required to trade as that name.
The .au Direct Policy is intended for businesses who have a .com.au match but are not trading under the same name and want to expand their presence online with a .au domain matching their brand or product.
If you’d like to know more about .AU Domain Names, please call us at Niche Ignite or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org