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Direct .au domain names set to launch – what you need to know

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This article was written by Rebecca Slater and Tom Gilbert

Direct registration

.au Domain Administration Limited (auDA), the entity responsible for developing and administering rules for .au domain names, has announced that from 24 March 2022, entities will be able to register .au direct names (e.g. yourname.au) for the first time. This is also known as "direct registration" or "second level names".

In its press release, auDA states that .au direct names will give individuals, businesses and organisations a wider choice of names in the Australian domain. Direct registration will also allow entities to register domain names which are shorter, more memorable and easier for their target audience to type.

Entities will be able to register .au direct names through auDA accredited registrars and the existing auDA rules (including the eligibility criteria) will apply.

This change means that Australia will be aligned with countries such as the United Kingdom (.uk), the United States (.us) and New Zealand (.nz), which have allowed direct registration for some time.

Priority Allocation process

Existing .au namespaces (such as .com.au, net.au and .org.au) will continue and remain unaffected by the introduction of .au direct names. However, all domain names in the .au namespace which are registered as at 24 March 2022 will be reserved in the direct .au namespace for the 6 month period after 24 March 2022 (the "Priority Allocation" period).

During the Priority Allocation period, the holder of an existing domain name in the wider .au namespace (e.g. myname.com.au) will be entitled to apply for Priority Status in respect of the domain name which is an exact match in the .au direct namespace (i.e. myname.au).

If multiple holders of the same, existing domain name in different .au namespaces (e.g. myname.com.au and myname.net.au) apply for Priority Status, the contested .au direct name will be allocated based on the following principles:

  • Category 1 applicants (being applicants whose domain name was created on or before 4 February 2018) will have priority over category 2 applicants (being applicants whose domain name was created after 4 February 2018).
  • If there are multiple category 1 applicants, the contested .au direct name will be allocated based on negotiation and agreement between the applicants. If no agreement is reached, the .au direct name remains reserved and the applicants can renew their applications on a yearly basis.
  • If there are only category 2 applicants, the .au direct name is allocated to the applicant who registered its domain name in the existing .au namespace first.

Where there are no exact matches in existing namespaces, registration will be on a "first come, first served" basis.

Further information about the Priority Allocation process can be found here.

Key takeaways

Entities who hold domain names in the wider .au namespace should consider whether they would like to obtain a direct registration for their existing domain names. If an entity wishes to do so, it should apply for Priority Status in the 6 months following 24 March 2022.

Entities who wish to obtain a direct registration for a domain name that does not exist in the wider .au namespace as at 24 March 2022 will be able to do so from that date. However, these entities may wish to register the relevant domain name in another .au namespace now to prevent another entity from obtaining the direct registration during the Priority Allocation process. 

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