The .au Domain Administration (auDA) announced new licensing rules to the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) effective on 12 April 2021. The ccTLD is an Internet top-level domain, which is generally used or reserved for a country, sovereign state, or dependent territory and is identified with a country code. In the case of Australia, which are who these rules apply to, a ccTDL is any domain that includes .au within the domain - for example.

The new rules are covered by two key documents:

  1. .au Domain Administration Rules: Licensing; and
  2. .au Domain Administration Rules: Registrar.

The documents set out the eligibility and allocation for .au domain names, terms and conditions, complaints processes and management and compliance of the rules for companies providing .au domain registration services who are accredited by auDA.

Application of the rules

All domain names in the .au ccTLD that are registered, transferred or renewed on or after 12 April 2021 will be covered by these new licensing rules effective on this date.

Domain names that expire after 12 April 2021 will still be covered by the rules that applied when the domain name was first registered or renewed, until the end of that period.

Key changes

The key changes to the rules include:


  1. and

Australian presence requirement

Domain names that are registered or renewed from 12 April 2021 will need to satisfy the eligibility criteria as outlined in Schedules A and C ( and Schedule E ( of the Domain Name Eligibility Police Rules for the Open 2LDs. The additional requirement of "Australian presence" must be satisfied in order to operate a domain within Australia.

The registrant, which now includes an expanded range of State and Territory namespaces, must prove that the domain name is an exact match of the Trade Mark application or registration. It must include all the words in the order which appear on the Trade Mark application or registration (excluding DNS identifiers, punctuation marks, articles and ampersands). The purpose for this is to eliminate foreign entities relying on an Australian Trade Mark application or registration to satisfy this criteria.

Where a domain name is not an exact match to the Australian Trade Mark, and the registrant intends to renew or apply for a domain name, it will need to select another basis on which the domain name will satisfy the 'Australian presence' criteria as outlined in the Schedule.


Only not-for-profit associations will be able to register domain names. Unincorporated associations are ineligible unless it is registered with an Australian Charity and Not for Profit Commission. For more information on who is eligible visit here.


Under Part 2.4.8 of the new licensing rules, you can no longer register a name relating to a personal interest or hobby. For a domain to be registered under the following must be satisfied:

  1. a match to a Person's legal name, first name or family name;
  2. an acronym or abbreviation of the Person's legal name, first name or family name; or;
  3. a nickname of the Person.

This is to ensure the namespace serves as a personal identifier as opposed to a general use namespace.

Selling, renting or leasing of .au domain names

The new rules provide renting or leasing domain and sub-domain names to third parties are prohibited.

Domain names must not be rented or leased to third parties. This is to ensure that the data in the WHOIS reflects who is really behind a domain name in the .au ccTLD. However, domain names that are registered for the use by a related body corporates are exempt from this.

Sub-domain names are prohibited to be rented, leased or sold as a user is effectively operating a private registry. By doing this it will erode trust in the .au ccTLD as sub-domains are not recorded in the WHOIS allowing people to use a domain name in the .au ccTLD when they would not be eligible.

Complaints process

There is now a four-tiered complaints process:

  1. Initial complaint;
  2. Review of registrar decision;
  3. Internal review of auDA's decision; and
  4. External review.

For a detailed explanation for each step visit here.


The rules will not impact a domain name that is operating on behalf of a related body corporate. So as long as the domain name satisfies the 'Australian presence' criteria. However, these only apply to and domain names and not or to a Registrar domain name.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.