A new Australian domain name, .au will be available from 24 March 2022.  Australian individuals, businesses, and organisations will be able to register their existing and new domain names in the .au domain name space (for example, newname.au).  Appealing to the tradition of abbreviating words in Australia, .au is intended to create shorter and more memorable names that are easier to type and market.

  • New .au domain names that do not already match an existing Australian domain name will be available to register from 24 March 2022.
  • Owners of existing Australian domain names that wish to own the .au equivalent must submit an application during the priority claim period of 24 March 2022 to 24 September 2022 or risk the .au domain name being registered by another.

Who is eligible to own a .au domain name?

Any individual, business, or organisation can register an .au domain name provided they have an Australian Presence.

An Australian Presence means being any one of the following:

  • An Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  • A sole trader, partnership, company, incorporated association, or trust with a current ABN or ACN.
  • A Registrable Body with an ARBN, Indigenous Corporation, Registered Organisation, Australian Cooperative, Australian Registered Charity, Australian Political Party, or Unincorporated Association.
  • Australian Educational Institution, Australian Government or Commonwealth Entity.
  • A foreign business with an Australian trade mark application or registration, provided the domain name is an exact match of the words of that trade mark.

Must the domain name relate to my business product or service?

There is no requirement for an .au domain name to have a connection with an owner's business, product, or service.  Any name can be registered so long as it is available, meets the syntax requirements, and does not appear on the reserved names list.  Unlike other Australian domain names which are intended for specific use, such as .com.au for commercial entities and .org.au for not-for-profit entities, the new .au domain name space has no such allocation requirements.

What is the priority claim period?

From 24 March 2022 to 24 September 2022 all existing Australian domain names will be reserved for a six month period.

During this time, owners of existing domain names can submit a priority application if they want to own the new .au that corresponds to their existing domain name.  For example, the owner of newname.com.au must submit a priority application for newname.au should they wish to register this new domain name.

There is no obligation for owners of existing domain names to make a priority claim but if they don't, then it will become available to the public on a first come first served basis on 25 September 2022.

What if there are competing priority claims?

There will be instances where owners of the same domain name, registered in different Australian domain name spaces, make a priority claim for the same .au domain name.  For example:

  • Harry owns com.au, which was registered on 22 June 2010.
  • Jack owns net.au, which was registered on 8 October 2012.
  • Sebastian owns org.au, which was registered on 5 May 2020.

All of the above owners are eligible to apply for a priority claim to newname.au.

These owners will be divided into two categories:

  • Priority Category 1 Domain names created on or before 4 February 2018
  • Priority Category 2 Domain names created after 4 February 2018

Category 1 applicants have priority over Category 2 applicants.

Where there are only Category 2 applicants, the name is allocated to the applicant with the earliest creation date.

Where there are multiple Category 1 applicants, the .au domain name will be allocated after agreement/negotiation between the Category 1 applicants.

In the above examples, Sebastian's claim is trumped by Harry and Jack, who need to negotiate over who will own the domain name.

If Harry and Jack cannot agree over who will own the domain name, then newname.au will remain reserved indefinitely, provided both Harry and Jack renew their priority claim applications on a yearly basis.

What can you do now to be ready for 24 March 2022?

Now is the opportune time to consider:

  • Which of your existing domain names would you like to register in the .au domain name space?
  • Are there any new domain names that you would like to register in the .au domain name space?
  • If you intend to make a priority claim, check that your existing Australian domain name satisfies the eligibility criteria for that existing Australian domain name. Your eligibility for your existing Australian domain name will be checked when you apply.
  • Make sure you know the domain name password for your existing Australian domain name, which will be required for your application to be accepted.
  • Make sure the registrant information associated with your existing Australian domain name is up to date as you won't be able to change this while your application remains active.

Making a priority claim application will attract a fee, which will vary between registrars.  As a reseller for Melbourne IT, Davies Collison Cave can submit applications for new .au domain names and priority claim applications on your behalf.

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.