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

Up until now, it has been necessary to use a “third-level” .au domain name such as “.com.au”, “.net.au” or “.org.au”. The impending release of .au domain names on 24 March 2022 will allow for use of shorter and sharper domain names and website addresses, which will be especially helpful for website users accessing websites on mobile phones.

For example, Griffith Hack will be able to 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”, by which .au domain names are reserved for registration by owners of existing third-level .au domain names for six months. From 24 March 2022 to 20 September 2022, owners of existing com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, id.au, gov.au and edu.au domain names have priority to register the exact matching .au domain names. For instance, Griffith Hack can register griffithhack.au, as we are already the owner of griffithhack.com.au. From 21 September 2022, .au domain names are available for registration on a first-in first-served basis.

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

How can a .au domain name be secured?

In order to own a .au domain name, the owner must satisfy the “Australian presence” requirements which apply existing domain names such as .com.au. Australian presence requirements can be satisfied 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 which matches the domain name.

Disputes over .au domain name ownership

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

If multiple parties hold domain names dating from before 4 February 2018, then the parties must negotiate between themselves who will be allocated the .au domain name. Where there are multiple applicants who hold matching third-level domain names dating from after 4 February 2018, then the .au domain name will be allocated to the applicant who first registered their third-level domain name.

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