Why businesses need to urgently register their .au web domain

Corporate & Commercial 27 April 2022

The organisation responsible for managing Australian domains, auDA, is now allowing Australians to purchase .au domains. As of March 24, 2022, these can be purchased for existing businesses who wish to shorten their current .com.au domain, or any Australian resident wanting to create a new website with a .au address. At the time of writing, over 3 and half-million .au sites have already been registered.

As a business owner, your website and its content forms part of your intellectual property, so it is important that you do not let another entity purchase your name-matched .au domain. Unlike .com.au registrations, you do not need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN) to claim the domain – just have a connection to Australia such as being an Australian resident. This also means anyone can try and secure your name-matched domain and trade from that site. Not only could this be confusing for your customers if they accidentally go to the .au domain owned by someone else, but it could also undo some of the efforts you’ve put into SEO for ranking on Google.

Register your .au domain in the priority period

AuDA has pre-empted the problem of random parties securing sought-after .au domain names by implementing a Priority Allocation Status process. Under these rules, businesses that already have a domain registered as .com.au will have priority status to register the corresponding .au website in the six months following the launch. This gives you until the 24th of September 2022 to take advantage of the Priority Allocation Status to register your name-matched .au domain. In another attempt to make national domain purchasing fairer for all, auDA is also accepting complaints against anyone that tries to purchase a domain that has no relevance to them or their business.

What happens if a business with a similar name tries to register the same .au domain?

AuDA has proposed implementation rules and processes that acknowledge the priority of domain name creation through business registration and filing dates to determine who will be successful in registering that name. Essentially, the earlier you file to register the .au name, the better chance you have of securing it. Because registrars will also review eligibility requirements for the qualifying domain name registration, make sure your current domain contact information and payments are up to date. If your current com.au domain name expires and cannot be recovered before the September cut-off date for Priority Allocation Status, your .au domain could be successfully registered by an unrelated business or individual. You can view a full set of auDA’s licensing rules and policies here.

Where should you register your .au domain?

You can use your current trusted web provider, or, to ensure you are registering your new .au address with a legitimate registrar, we recommend going through auDA’s list of accredited registrars who must show that the organisation meets the corporate, operational and security-related requirements. As auDA notes on its official website, “auDA regularly conducts website checks on all accredited registrars and selected resellers to ensure compliance with the Code of Practice.” You can view a list of auDA’s accredited registrars and resellers here.

What name can you register using .au?

While existing Australian namespaces such as com.au and org.au must meet specific criteria such as having a registered and valid ABN, there are no allocation criteria that determine which names an eligible person can register in the .au direct namespace. Obviously, some names have been reserved for official bodies and government departments.

The good news is that if you are planning on launching a new Australian-based business or service, there is now a wider availability of website names you can choose from. You will also soon see shortened URLs being used across the globe. As auDA has detailed, the release of .au domain names was to:

  • Deliver a wider choice of available names in the Australian domain
  • Allow users to register shorter, more memorable online names
  • Provide names that are easier to type and display on mobile devices.

The introduction is the result of significant public consultation conducted in 2015, 2018 and 2019, and will bring Australia in line with many other country code Top Level Domains including the United Kingdom (.uk), Canada (.ca), the USA (.us) and New Zealand (.nz).

If you have any queries regarding intellectual property and commercial or business legal requirements, read more here.

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