If you’re an Australian company or individual, you may want to set a calendar reminder for 24th March 2022. On this date, direct registration of .au domains will become available. Previously, one could only register .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, or .id.au domain – now, you can register anything.au!

This article explains some of the eligibility criteria and outlines what you need to know about these new domain names.

Domains in Australia are regulated by auDA – a non-profit body enabled by the federal government to administer the Australian domain name space. They’ve been doing this since 2000, with some controversy over the years.

The proposals to open up the .au domain name space started gaining traction in 2019, and today the final rules were announced.

Who can register a .au domain?

A registrant must have an Australian Presence – such as an Australian registered company, ABN, citizenship, residency, or trade mark.

If you’re a foreign company trading in Australia you can register with your local company registration, or a local trademark.

If you use trademarks as your eligibility criteria, they must be an exact match – you can’t register a .au domain for a subset of your trademark.

The .au space is less strict in some ways than the .com.au space – you don’t need to be conducting a business to get a .au domain.

Priority for existing domain owners

If you have an existing domain in the .au space (e.g. com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, id.au, gov.au and edu.au), you are given a six month window to register.

This is called the ‘Priority Allocation Process‘.

Say you own mediarealm.com.au. This gives you a six-month window where no one else except you can register mediarealm.au. However, if a different entity owned mediarealm.org.au, then the two of us would both be competing for mediarealm.au. In this case, if both were registered before 4 February 2018, we have to negotiate between all contesting parties. If one is registered before 4 February 2018 and the other is registered after, the earlier domain wins.

Priority Registration will take place through the usual domain registrars. No pricing has been announced yet.

If no one claims a Priority Allocation domain in six months from 24th March 2022, then it becomes registrable on a first-come, first-serve basis.

What should I do?

If you own any existing domains, set a calendar reminder for 24th March 2022, and register your domains in the .au space.

How much will it cost?

auDA sets the wholesale price for all .au domain names (currently $8.67/year inc. GST), and registrars set the retail price. This means the price can vary between registrars.

For example – VentraIP currently sells various au domains for $14.75/year. NetRegister sells the same domains or $14.50 per year, but subsequent renewals appear to be $23.99 per year.

Final pricing will be advertised in due course.

Should I register ahead of time?

It it likely some domain registrars will allow you to register ahead of time, and join a waiting list. This would likely mean you don’t need to do anything on 24th March 2022, but simply let your domain registrar submit it to the registry.

However, if you fall into a priority category you shouldn’t be fearful of missing out on the day if you don’t pre-register.

What’s the point?

The cynics among us would say opening up this domain registration space is a cash grab. Existing domain holders need to register and keep renewing yet another domain to avoid their brand being hijacked.

The ‘official’ reasons for this change are:

Deliver a wider choice of available names in the trusted Australian domain 

Allow users to register shorter, more memorable online names

Provide names that are easier to type and display on mobile devices.

Regardless of what you think, sadly the deal now is done and we will soon be living in a world where .au domains exist. Hopefully Sydney will be out of lockdown by the time that happens!