On 24 March 2022, the .au Domain Administration (auDA) launched Australia’s newest domain namespace – .au direct. We explain why you should secure your .au direct domain name as soon as possible.

Registrants of an existing .au domain name (such as those ending in .com.au, .net.au and .org.au) created before 24 March 2022 are eligible to apply for a direct match of the .au direct domain name through the Priority Allocation Process for a period of six months following the launch (known as the “Priority Application Period”). For example, if <xyz.com.au> was created before 24 March 2022, the <xyz.au> domain name will be placed on priority hold and the registrant of <xyz.com.au> will be eligible to apply for the <xyz.au> domain name during the Priority Application Period.

There are two priority categories

  • Category 1: domain names created on or before 4 February 2018; and
  • Category 2: domain names created after 4 February 2018.

Applicants holding Category 1 domain name licences have priority over applicants holding Category 2 domain name licences. If there is more than one Category 1 domain name licence holder, the applicants must negotiate and agree on the allocation of the .au direct name. If an agreement is not reached, the contested name will remain unallocated. If there is more than one Category 2 domain name licence holder, the name will be allocated to the applicant with the earliest domain name creation date.

Priority Allocation Period ending soon

The Priority Application Period will end on 20 September 2022. If an application from an eligible registrant to register the direct match of an existing domain name in the new namespace is not received by 20 September 2022, it will become available to other eligible persons from 21 September 2022 (discussed further below). .au direct domain names will be released from priority hold and made available for registration by the general public from 8:00 am AEDT on 4 October 2022.

The .au direct domain names will be open to anyone with an Australian presence. This means that registration of a .au direct domain name will not be subject to the same allocation requirements as for .com.au and .net.au domain names. To be eligible, a registrant need only meet the Australian presence requirement discussed in our article, New auDA Rules – Impact of Changes to Eligibility Requirements for .au Domain Names. There are no rules defining how a name needs to relate to a registrant of a .au direct domain name. For this reason, .au direct domain names will be easier to register, and more difficult to seek cancellation or transfer of once registered.

Why you should secure your .au direct domain name as soon as possible

Business and trade mark owners who fail to secure a .au direct domain being a direct match of their existing .au domain name on or before 20 September 2022 (or very shortly after it becomes available to the general public from 4 October 2022) will have limited grounds to seek the transfer or cancellation of a .au direct domain name registered by a third party. This is because they will not be able to rely on any allocation rules to challenge a registrant’s eligibility to hold the .au direct domain name. The only way to challenge a .au direct domain name registrant’s eligibility to hold the domain name licence will be if the registrant fails to meet the Australian presence requirement.

For these reasons, we recommend securing your .au domain name as soon as possible to protect your brand and business.