Aussies like to shorten words. It’s an Australian hobby, so to speak.
Hence, it should come as no surprise that the Australian Domain Administration has announced plans to shorten the Australian country domain by releasing a new domain extension; the .au (no .com, .net etc. needed), alongside a new set of rules which have come into effect from April 12, 2021.
Australian authorities will now be able to register a name directly before the dot in .au. For example, domain.com.au could apply for domain.au.
Note that if you don’t want to switch, you don’t have to.
AuDA’s main objective behind offering the new .au namespace is not to completely replace the existing namespaces but to provide more options for businesses.
So, it’s totally fine if you want to stick to your current AU domain name since it’s already very much established with the vast majority of emails and websites using the .com.au and .net.au namespaces.
However, the new .au namespace is shorter and simpler, so if you want that you can indeed get it and redirect yourdomain.au to yourdomain.com.au. The choice is yours.
This new namespace will be available for registration in July 2021, but there are steps you can take right now to get ready!
Before we go any further, let’s understand what exactly a domain is?
What Is A Domain?
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It is essentially your website’s equivalent of a physical address that serves as the core of your business’s internet identity. Your customers will use it to access your products and services online.
What Are The New Changes?
While the new rules are largely the same, there are a few notable changes to be aware of.
Outside of releasing the new .au namespace, auDA has also announced policies to reduce the domain name eligibility requirements for new registrants. This means a person applying for a new .au namespace is no longer required to have an existing commercial connection with the domain (such as a matching Australian Trade Mark). He/she is only required to have an “Australian presence”.
Thus, any individual with a permanent Australian residency or a current Australian Business Number (ABN)/ Australian Company Number (ACN) can apply for the new .au domain, given it is not already taken or a prohibited one.
The selling, renting or leasing subdomains to third parties are also prohibited under the newly released auDA Rules, with one exception – if the domain name is registered for use by a related body corporate with an Australian presence. This prohibition is intended to help ensure that the data in the WHOIS reflects the individuals using each domain name.
Another notable change is the expanded eligibility criteria for State and Territory namespaces. While the previous rules only allowed community groups to register in State and Territory namespaces, the new licensing rules allow State and Territory peak bodies to register in these namespaces as well.
For the existing domain name licences expiring after 12th April 2021, previous rules will apply until the current licence period ends.
Who Is Eligible To Receive A New .au Namespace?
To be eligible for registering a new .au namespace, you must satisfy the “Australian presence” criteria. What is deemed an “Australian presence”, and how can I satisfy the criteria, you might ask?
The “Australian presence” criteria can be fulfilled by being any of the following:
• A permanent Australian resident or citizen. • A partnership company, sole trader or any business with a current ABN or ACN. • A foreign company with an Australian trademark application or registration.
If you already have a .au extension associated with your domain, auDA will reserve your new .au namespace for you, given your existing domain fully complies with its eligibility requirements. For example, if you already have a domain “xyz.com.au” registered, you will be given a preference for “xyz.au”.
On the other hand, if someone else also has an existing .au extension linked with the same domain as you, a conflict can most likely occur. For example, if you have “xyz.com.au” and someone else has “xyz.net.au” then chances of a conflict are apparent.
So, What Happens If Two Or More Licensees Want To Register The Same Name In The .au Namespace?
Under such instances, auDA has planned Implementation Policies to manage the interests of competing parties by considering the priority of domain name creation dates (registration dates) for determining the eligibility. Meaning, the earlier a domain name has been registered, the better chances for a business entity to acquire the new .au namespace.
What Should My Business Do To Register The New Namespace?
Unlike the existing domain extensions (.com.au, .id.au, .net.au etc.), which require proof of the business entity operating in Australia, the new .au namespace will only require the registrant to meet the “Australian presence” criteria. Thus, if you plan on acquiring the new .au namespace and want to register it before someone else does, you should get your business all set and ready.
First, you need to confirm that your domain name is registered in the correct entity name, and you have easy access to the registrant login details within your company.
If you’re a foreign company using an Australian trademark to meet the “Australian presence” criteria, you should make sure that your domain name and Australian trademark are an exact match. So what is an exact match?
An exact match means your domain name should be identical to your Australian trademark and include all words that appear on your trademark, excluding DNS identifiers and trivial changes such as ‘the’ or ‘a’.
If it’s not an exact match, you should consider some other alternatives to satisfy the “Australian presence” criteria, such as transferring your domain name license to an Australian-based body corporate.
Below we’ve compiled a checklist of steps to get your business ready 👇
✅ Check all the contact details for your existing domain name registration and make sure they are up-to-date.
✅ Ensure you have registered an existing 3LD domain extension (.com.au, .net.au etc.). If not, you need to apply for new applications at the earliest to qualify for the priority date.
✅ Keep a close eye on the registration opening date for the new .au namespace, which is expected to be mid-way through this year.
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