After several years of planning and consultation, Australia's domain name regulator (auDA) has announced the commencement date of the ".AU Direct" namespace for Australian domain names.
The new domain name category will become available for registrations from 24 March 2022.
What are ".AU Direct" Domain Names?
All domain names are made up of multiple parts. Reading from right to left, a traditional Australian domain name must contain:
- the "AU" country code top-level domain (or ccTLD)
- a second-level domain (or 2LD), such as:
- ".com" or ".net" (for businesses)
- ".org" (for non-profit organisations)
- ".edu" (for educational institutions); or
- ".asn" (for associations); and
- a third-level domain (or 3LD), which usually contains the name, abbreviation or trade mark of the domain holder or the products or services they provide.
The .AU Direct namespace does away with the fixed 2LD component of the domain name. Instead, .AU Direct domain names will be allowed to have a custom name at the 2LD level. For example:
- Traditional Australian Domain Name:
- .AU Direct Domain Name:
One advantage of this is that it makes the domain name shorter, and potentially more memorable to visitors. Further, the new namespace opens up more combinations and flexibility in the Australian domain name space.
To register a .AU Direct domain name, the applicant must meet the eligibility criteria. These requirements include:
- The domain name applicant must have an "Australian Presence" (eg the applicant must be an Australian resident or registered entity, or hold an ABN); and
- The chosen domain name must be connected to the domain name applicant (eg the domain name must match the applicant's name or trade mark and meet other name eligibility requirements.)
Similar rules will apply for determining auDRP domain name disputes and eligibility complaints under the .AU Direct namespace.
Priority Status for Existing Holders
During a 6-month "sunrise" period, existing traditional domain name holders will have priority to apply for exactly matching domain names in the .AU Direct namespace.
For example: the holder of "mydomainname.com.au" will have priority status when applying for "mydomainname.au".
Where there is a conflict between existing traditional domain name holders, this will be resolved based on:
- which domain name has the earliest registration date;
- whether the respective domain names were originally registered before or after 4 February 2018; and
- where the conflicting domain names were registered prior to 4 February 2018, negotiation or agreement between the respective holders.
What should current domain name holders do?
Current domain name holders should consider whether they wish to register a .AU Direct domain name once they become available. If so, applications for priority status can be made when the namespace opens.
Trade mark holders may also wish to apply for a .AU Direct domain name matching their trade mark as a defence against domain name squatting.
For further official information, please see the auDA au Direct Information Page.
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