If you already own a .co.nz, .net.nz or other .nz domain name, you may be eligible to register the shorter version of your domain name as a .nz domain name ahead of everyone else.

There are a lot of changes afoot internationally related to domain names, and New Zealand is not immune. All businesses, particularly if you have a website presence, need to be aware of these changes as they may affect how you do business in the future.  Shorter domain names are now on trend. Countries like the United Kingdom have decided that 'short is best' when it comes to domain names. New Zealand has decided to follow suit.

From 30 September 2014, it is now possible to register shorter, more concise domain names in New Zealand. Rather than registering 'anyname.co.nz', you will be able to register 'anyname.nz'. You can, of course, still register 'anyname.co.nz' if you want to.

Shorter is better

There have been many new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), including .kiwi, .email and .xyz flooding the market in the last 12 months, with varying degrees of popularity.

Many domain name owners have decided to treat this flood of gTLDs as a passing fad. But the introduction of a new (and shorter) domain name specifically linked to New Zealand is a different story. It is almost inevitable that .nz will become the premium New Zealand domain name suffix, surpassing .co.nz. The only question is how long this will take. Domain name owners who do not take steps to obtain second-level domains now, may find it much more difficult to do so later.

Businesses and owners of existing .co.nz and other .nz domain names would be wise to put a strategy in place to register their important domains directly at the second-level as a .nz domain name.

All existing domain names, for instance those ending in .co.nz, .org.nz, .govt.nz, will continue to work as they always have and you will still be able to register domain names with these suffixes. There could be good reasons to continue registering domain names with those suffixes, as well as taking advantage of the option of registering just the .nz second-level.

Are you eligible?

If you already own a .co.nz, .net.nz or other .nz domain name, you may be eligible to register the shorter version of your domain name as a .nz domain name ahead of everyone else.

There is a six-month period called the Preferential Registration Eligibility (PRE) period, in which owners of existing domain names may register or reserve the shorter version of their domain name. PRE will run from 1pm, 30 September 2014 until 1pm, 30 March 2015.

But as with most things, some conditions will apply. These conditions mainly depend on when the owner of an existing domain registered the domain name, and whether there are any conflicting domain names. For instance, the owner of 'anyname.co.nz' will not be automatically eligible to register 'anyname.nz' if there are other owners who own 'anyname.net.nz' or 'anyname.org.nz'.

With the expectation that .nz will become the premium and most sought after domain for New Zealand businesses, we recommend all current owners of .co.nz and other .nz domain names check whether they are eligible for the PRE. If you are eligible, you should make a plan to register your domain names at the second-level .nz.

Domain name strategy

As domain names become increasingly recognised as strategic business assets, you need to place greater importance on managing your domain names. Having a domain name strategy that aligns not only with your intellectual property strategy but also with your overall business strategy means that as new domain name registration opportunities arise, you will be easily able to determine what domain names are important for your business and its future growth. 

An edited version of this article appeared in the October 2014 issue of NZ Retail Magazine.