There has been a significant change made recently in relation to Australian website and email address domain names. As of 24 March 2022, Australian individuals and companies have been able to register direct .au domain names.

The .au direct domain name allows for a shorter, more memorable domain name.

This enables urls along the lines of:

  • [company name].au
  • [Johnsmith].au.

To register for a .au domain name, you must have a valid ‘Australian presence’. To have an Australian presence, registrants must, for example:

  • be a company incorporated in Australia or an entity with an Australian Business Number;
  • if an overseas company, have an Australian trade mark application or registration if the domain name is an exact match of the words the subject of the Australian trade mark application or registration; or
  • be an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident visa holder (if an individual rather than a company).

The full definition of ‘Australian presence’ can be found in the .au direct rules.

The new .au name space is not designed to replace the current suite of name spaces – it is complementary because of its broad eligibility (both businesses and individuals can register .au domain names). Registration can be completed through auDA Accredited Registrars; a full list of valid Registrars can be found here.

A major purpose of registering a .au domain name is to protect the domain name from ‘cyber-squatters’, thereby ensuring that it cannot be used or reserved by another party.

Entities are able to register the exact .au match of their current domain name and, in order to do so, they will need to apply for Priority Status by 20 September 2022. If no applications have been made for the exact match by 20 September, the .au domain will become open for public reservation on 3 October 2022, making the address susceptible to cyber-squatters. In certain situations, where more than one applicant has applied for the same .au domain name, the direct name will be granted in accordance with priority rules, which are set out below:

  • Priority Category 1: Names created on or before the cut-off date of 4 February 2018
    • Category 1 applicants have priority over Category 2 applicants
    • Where there are multiple Category 1 applicants, the name is allocated by agreement / negotiation between the Category 1 applicants.
  • Priority Category 2: Names created after the cut-off date of 4 February 2018.
    • Where there are only Category 2 applicants, the name is allocated to the applicant with the earliest creation date.

The priority status of a domain name can be checked online using the Priority Status Tool.