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« .au direct »: the New Australian Namespace that will Launch on March 24, 2022

posted 2 years ago

On the 24th of March 2022, a new name space will launch in Australia: “.au direct”.

It is a new name space that enables Australian citizens, permanent residents and organizations registered in Australia to register domain names directly before the .au.

Instead of registering and using domain names in the traditional namespaces such “com.au”, or “org.au”, “net.au”, “gov.au”, “edu.au” etc., Australian internet users will be able to opt for simpler and shorter domain names directly ending with “.au”.

In fact, the new name space enables two application possibilities. You can register a completely new “.au direct” name that isn’t registered in any existing .au namespace. The second option is to register the exact match of an already existing .au domain that you hold.

Where to register your “.au direct” domain name and at what price? 

From March 24, 2022, you will be able to simply register new or matching “.au” domain names through participating auDA accredited registrars. Bearing in mind that the rule of supply and demand applies, the registration prices vary between different registrars. It is likely that a potentially popular name is more expensive than an ‘ordinary’ one. Nonetheless, the official administrator of Australia’s .au top level domain (the auDA”) sets the wholesale price for all .au domain names. Whether you opt for a “com.au”, “net.au” or “.au direct”, the wholesale price will be the same.

What are the requirements?

First of all, you need to prove a verifiable Australian presence. Article 1.4 of the .au Domain Administration Rules provides an exhaustive list of 17 natural and legal persons that are considered to have an ‘Australian presence’. In short it concerns Australian citizens, permanent residents of Australia and organizations and companies registered in Australia. This Australian presence is thus the first requirement for any person or organization who wants to register a “.au direct” domain name.

The second requirement regards the name itself. Although there are no allocation rules for the “.au” namespace, in the sense that you can freely choose any name, this doesn’t mean that there are no restrictions.

First, the name that you would like to register needs to be available. Considering the new namespace will launch in March 2022, the availability is not a problem (yet). But the ‘first come, first served rule’ applies so the risk of unavailability will be something to bear in mind.

Second, the name cannot be mentioned in the « reserved list ». Under the Licensing Rules, you can’t apply for a registration of a word, acronym or abbreviation that is restricted or prohibited under an Australian law or a name or abbreviation of an Australian state or territory, including the word ‘Australia’.

Finally, you can’t register a name that is deemed to pose a risk to the security, stability and integrity of the “.au” and global Domain Name System.

The second requirement consists thus of a negative requirement; you cannot register an unavailable name, nor a so-called reserved name.

How to register “.au direct” domain names?

Provided that the Australian presence and availability requirements are met, you will be able to register any new “.au direct” name via any participating auDA accredited registrar starting from March 24.

Furthermore, provided that these same requirements are met, Australian internet users will also be able to register the exact match of an existing .au domain that you already hold. However, this allocation process is a bit more complex. The .au Domain Administration Rules provide for a “Priority Allocation Process”. This process foresees a six-month “Priory Application Period” – from March 24 until September 20, 2022 – for holders of a “.au” name in another namespace (such as “com.au”, “org.au” or “net.au”) who would like to apply for its exact “.au direct” match.

For example, if you own the domain name “dreyfus.com.au”, you can apply for the registration of “dreyfus.au” within this period via an accredited registrar. If it appears that the requirements are met, you will get a priority status and you will be put on “Priority Hold for the Priority Application Period”. Through this status, you have the first opportunity to register the name which prevents third parties from registering it.

In some cases, there may be more than one applicant for the same “.au direct” domain name. For instance, if you hold the domain name “dreyfus.com.au” and a third party holds the domain name “dreyfus.net.au”, and you both want to register the “dreyfus.au” direct domain name, the “.au direct” exact match will be allocated according to the Priority Allocation Process.

A distinction is made between two priority categories. The first Priority Category regards names that are created on or before the 4th of February 2018. The second Priority Category regards Names created after the 4th of February 2018.

Under Article 1.9 of the .au Domain Administration Rules, Category 1 applicants have priority over Category 2 applicants.

In case there are multiple Category 1 applications, the name is allocated on agreement/negotiation between the Category 1 applicants.

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

As a final note, registering a “.au direct” domain name does not entail any negative consequences. You can always attempt to register your “.au direct” exact match because it has no consequences on your existing .au domain names. So, if you already own the domain name “dreyfus.com.au” and you want to register “drefyus.au”, the domain name “dreyfus.com.au” will not be affected by this registration and will continue to exist.

On the 24th of March 2022, the new “.au direct” namespace will thus launch in Australia.

This new name space that enables anyone with a verified connection to Australia, such as citizens and permanent residents of Australia and organizations registered in Australia, to register “.au direct” domain names. Instead of registering and using names in the traditional namespaces, it will be possible to opt for simpler and shorter domain names that directly ends with “.au”.

The first possibility is to apply for a registration of a new .au direct names that are not already registered in the .au registry.

The second possibility consist of registering the exact match of existing .au domain names. The allocation of these domain names is regulated by the specific provisions of the “Priority Allocation Process”.

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