Following a policy review panel in September 2017, the .au Domain Administration Limited (auDA) has decided to implement new licensing rules for com.au, net.au, and asn.au namespaces. The new rules will take effect on 12 April 2021. Broadly, they include important changes to eligibility and allocation rules for some namespaces; the licence terms and conditions for .au domain names; the complaints process and how auDA manages compliance with the rules.

Under the new rules, the following changes will apply:

  • Changes to how registrants use and manage .au domain names: the new rules make a number of changes, including to prohibit the renting or leasing of com.au, net.au, and asn.au domain names and sub-domains (e.g. pw.auda.org.au is a subdomain of auda.org.au); providing two days to restore a cancelled domain; requiring a change of the domain name authorisation code after a transfer; allowing further time to fix minor policy breaches; and setting out updated terms and conditions for .au domain licences.
  • Changes to how auDA operates: the new rules also allow auDA to respond to national security and enforcement bodies, acting in the public interest; reserve names essential for the operation of government and for future use as a second level domain namespace; and respond to activity occurring on sub-domains (e.g. bags.forexample.net.au is being used for phishing, auDA now has the ability to suspend or cancel forexample.net.au).
  • Changes to the rules for State and Territory namespaces: the eligibility criteria will be expanded to allow State and Territory peak bodies to register each of the Australian State or Territory dedicated namespaces (e.g. nsw.au).
  • The complaints process under the new licensing rules: under the new licensing rules, auDA now has a four-tiered complaints process – initial complaint; review of a registrar decision; internal review of auDA’s decision; and external review.
  • com.au and net.au rule changes: the main changes for the com.au and net.au spaces will include using a trade mark to meet the Australian presence test; an expanded definition of a corporate entity and related bodies corporate rule.
  • org.au rule changes: the two main changes to the rules for org.au domain names will include changes to rules regarding:
    • eligibility: you must now be a not-for-profit entity. Unincorporated associations which are not registered with Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission are no longer eligible.
    • allocation: the rules around what org.au name you can choose have been broadened to allow for a wider range of names to be used by eligible org.au registrants.

At this stage, the new rules only apply to com.au, net.au, org.au and asn.au namespaces. Rules relating to the id.au namespace, second level names (e.g. forexample.au) and internationalised domain names (e.g. 例如.au) will come into effect in future phases.

For .au domain name licences that expire after 12 April 2021, the current rules will apply until the end of the licence period. The new rules will then apply from when the new licence period commences.