Launch of direct registrations of .au domain names on March 24, 2022

In a few weeks, anyone with a verified connection to Australia will be able to apply for a shorter domain name, commonly referred to as a “second-level name” or “.au namespace.”

From March 24, 2022, applications can be submitted:

  • to license new direct .au domain names that are not already licensed in an existing domain ending in .au; and
  • for the exact match of any existing .au domain name, e.g. a matching com.au or org.au etc.

New Direct .au domain names will be publicly available on a first-come, first-served basis, as they are not already registered in another .au namespace.

Exact matches of existing .au domain names will be assigned through the priority assignment process, described in more detail below.

While strict assignment rules remain relevant for existing .au domain name licensees who wish to take advantage of the priority assignment process for .au direct domain names, any new .au direct domain name does not does not need to meet the same criteria. New registrants of .au direct domain names need only meet the “Australian presence” requirement, but are otherwise free to license any available .au direct domain name, subject to basic character requirements etc.

Licensees who already own a domain in a .au namespace will have six months, from March 24, 2022 through September 20, 2022 (“Priority Application Period”), to apply for its exact direct .au domain name match. .

Priority allocation process

Existing .au domain name licensees who wish to obtain a .au direct domain name should ensure that they are eligible to do so (including continuing to comply with the attribution rules mentioned above) and apply during the six-month priority allocation period. If not, the “priority status” is lost and the .au direct domain name is made available to the public for registration as a “new” .au direct domain name.

Exact matches of existing .au domain names will be placed on hold during the priority application period to prevent them from being registered by others and to give existing .au licensees the first opportunity to obtain a license for their corresponding direct .au domain names.

auDA has identified that in some cases there may be more than one registrant for the same direct .au domain name because there are different licensees holding the same .au domain in different namespaces.

For example:

  • the Australian Broadcasting Commission currently owns abc.net.au and also abc.com.au; and
  • Adventist Book Center Australia currently owns abc.org.au.

Both registrants will be eligible to apply to abc.au.

In such situations, the .au direct domain name will be assigned in accordance with the priority assignment process, which assigns categories to existing domain name licensees based on the creation date of the existing .au domain name. There are two categories for this purpose:

Category 1

Existing .au domain name licenses with a creation date no later than February 4, 2018

Category 2

Domain name licenses with a creation date after February 4, 2018

The distribution is determined as follows:

  • Category 1 candidates have priority over category 2 candidates;
  • multiple Tier 1 applicants must enter into direct negotiations and agree on the award. If the applicants fail to reach an agreement, the direct .au domain name will remain unassigned; and
  • between several category 2 applicants, the .au direct domain name is assigned to the applicant with the existing .au domain name with the oldest creation date.

If no priority status is claimed at the end of the six-month priority allocation period, the .au direct domain name will become publicly available for licensing in accordance with the process for a new .au direct domain name.

Any disputes related to direct .au domain names will be determined in accordance with the auDRP or a complaint under the .au License Rules.

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