So you have heard the whispers and rumours about a new .au domain? Well now it’s finally official – very soon you will be able to register new Australian domain names without that pesky .com part. Great! But what if someone else takes yours, and do you even need one?
Although this news is usually only interesting to us nerdy-types, this change is very likely to raise significant considerations for all Australian business websites. How important it may be to you and your business will depend on a number of factors, chiefly: do you have an existing .com.au domain name? If so, you might consider yourself lucky, as you will automatically qualify for the equivalent domain’s .au variant, but there are some steps to take. This will work through a Priority Allocation Process, which is a 6-month period running from 24 March to 20 September 2022. Australia’s .au Top Level Domains (TLDs) are managed by a company called auDA, who has defined the rules for this process and states that:
“Registrants of existing .au names will have six months to apply for Priority Status to register the .au direct match of their name if they would like to license it.
For example, the registrant of getyour.com.au can apply for priority to register getyour.au.”
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Where it gets complicated, as with all things domain-name-related, is where multiple “namespaces” are concerned – that is, .com.au, .net.au and .org.au domains for example. This means there will be cases where hypothetically someone may own the .net.au variant of your .com.au domain, and both are eligible to apply for priority allocation – this will be known as a “contested name”. There are a number of criteria by which these cases will be assessed, which are outlined on the Priority Allocation Process page. This likely won’t be an issue if your domain name is fairly unique (a business name + location, for example), but we recommend trying to assess whether this could be a problem for you.
All of this assumes that .au domains might be valuable to you and your business, which is really yet to be seen. What we do know is that securing a domain is a low-cost option initially, if it is available directly through a domain registrar like in this case, but can become almost extortionate if someone secures it and is reselling it privately (check out this list of the most expensive domain names). It’s also a bit of an insurance policy, of sorts, helping to prevent confusion for your customers if they type in the wrong domain TLD and additionally to prevent competitors or others from securing your domains. There are also SEO factors that may be important to consider.
What happens when the Priority Allocation Process window ends?
You might be wondering what happens after this 6-month period, which auDA nicely covers for us here as well:
“If there are no applications for a reserved .au direct from an eligible registrant name during the six-month Priority Allocation Period, that name will become available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis at the close of the Priority Allocation Period.”
So basically, all the good ones will be snatched up asap. If your business domain name might be among these sought-after domains, which are usually simple, one or two words or novelty/portmanteau names, then we recommend you apply.
Some domain name providers are offering pre-registration for .au domains, you can even pre-register a domain that you do not currently own an equivalent of. A word of caution here, if you do secure one that you do not have any priority eligibility for, it can essentially be taken off you if someone with a priority pass comes along before Sept 20, 2022. This is a strangely unprecedented move that could cause major issues if a business leans too heavily on a new .au domain before this cutoff.
So the TL:DR is yes, we recommend that you apply for your .au domain as soon as you are able. These new domains should be inexpensive and prevent headaches for your business down the track.
If you’re thinking of launching a startup or rebuilding your online presence onto one of these new domains as your primary brand then feel free to reach out to us to support in making that a reality.
When and how to register your .au domain name?
Registrations for .au domains open up on March 24, 2022. They should be available at all of your standard domain name providers. Although we recommend, for simplicity’s sake, that you choose the same provider as your existing .com.au domain, we have listed a number of common Domain Name providers below:
- VentraIP Australia – 100% Australian Website Hosting & Domain Names
- Domain Names, Websites, Hosting & Online Marketing Tools – GoDaddy AU
- Buy Domain Names AU | Domain Name Registration Australia | Crazy Domains AU
- #1 Domain Registration & Digital Agency | Melbourne IT
Talk to your website or IT provider about securing yours if you’re unsure – or feel free to hit us up. Check out auDAs resources if you want to find out more.