.au direct domain names will be available as a new category of Australian domain name from 24 March 2022.
.au direct names refers to domain names directly before the ‘.au’, such as example.au or addisons.au. Previously Australia has not had access to its own second level .au name and been limited to third level .au names, such as addisons.com.au.
The .au direct names are being introduced in an effort to provide shorter and simpler domain names and will bring Australia in line with many other country codes Top Level Domains including the United Kingdom (.uk), Canada (.ca), the USA (.us) and New Zealand (.nz).
The .au direct names will operate in the same manner as domain names registered in other existing namespaces (e.g., com.au, net.au, id.au, org.au, etc). There will be no changes to the existing namespaces, which will continue to operate as usual.
The .au direct names will be for general use, which means they can be registered by any person or organisation, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. Unlike existing Australian namespaces – such as com.au and org.au, that have specific allocation and eligibility criteria, there is no allocation criteria for the .au direct namespace other than the requirement to have an Australian presence. This can include the Applicant being an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an organisation registered in Australia.
The full definition of Australian presence and other auDA rules can be found here.
It is important to note also that, if you are relying on the Priority Allocation Process (below), you must also be eligible to hold the domain licence for the third level domain name you are relying upon. We recently provided an update on new eligibility requirements in relation to .com.au domain names in our February 2021 article.
Priority Allocation Process
From 24 March 2022, a Priority Allocation Period will be in place for 6 months which will allow you to:
- Apply for the exact match of your existing.com.au (or other third level .au domain names); and
- Register ‘new’ .au direct names that do not exist in any other namespaces.
For example, during the Priority Allocation Period, the pre-existing registrant of example.com.au, can apply for Priority Status for the domain name example.au.
Following the end of the Priority Allocation Period the .au direct names will become available to the public (if the owners of the corresponding third level .au domain names have not made application for the corresponding .au direct names) on a first come basis.
In circumstances where more than one registrant is eligible to apply for Priority Status for the same .au direct name (such as where Registrant A owns example.com.au and Registrant B owns example.net.au), priority will be determined with respect to the date of registration of the domain name licence.
Review your Domain Names Now
If you already own a com.au, net.au or other second level .au domain name, you should consider registering the identical .au domain name to prevent a third party from registering and using your existing domain name with the new .au extension.