- by David Goldstein -
Second level, or direct, registrations are coming to .au in March 2022, 36 years after .au was delegated in 1986. The change will mean businesses and individuals can register domain names like name.au for the first time. It follows the introduction of second level registrations under .uk (United Kingdom) and .nz (New Zealand) in 2014.
The process for introducing second level registrations in .au commenced in 2015 when an auDA advisory panel recommended their introduction. Following this in April 2016 the auDA Board approved their introduction. Since then there have been a myriad of consultations that have, in part, sought to determine the best method of their introduction.
Currently domain names can only be registered at the third level under .com.au, .net.au (both for registered commercial entities), .org.au (for charities and non-profits), .asn.au (incorporated associations, political parties, trade unions, sporting and special interest clubs) and .id.au (for individuals). There are also .gov.au, .edu.au and state and territory namespaces. All require an Australian presence. These namespaces will continue unaffected, including eligibility requirements, with the introduction of second level registrations.
As of January 2022 there were 3.4 million .au domain names under management, with the vast majority, 3.1 million, under .com.au. There were another 217,000 under .net.au. Under .id.au, the only space where individuals could register domain names, there were around 13,000 registrations. With the restrictive eligibility requirements, and that .id.au never gained the public’s imagination, it meant individual Australian registrants ranked highly among open TLDs such as .me and .co as they effectively had nowhere to go for .au domain names.
When second level .au domain names launch on 24th March, all .au domain names in the registry prior to launch will be reserved from being registered as .au names for the six-month Priority Allocation Period, which ends on 20th September 2022. Domain names that are not in the .au registry at the time of launch will be available for .au second level registration from 24th March.
To begin the process auDA, the .au policy and regulatory body, has released a Priority Status Tool to help pre-existing .au registrants check the status of domain names that are subject to the Priority Allocation Process. Existing registrants of eligible .au domain names will have priority status to apply for the exact match of their second level .au domain names.
The Priority Status Tool will allow registrants to:
.au domain names registered on or before 4th February 2018 are considered “Category 1” Priority Status while those with a creation date after the Priority Status cut-off date of 4 February 2018 are “Category 2”. It appears the creation date is the date from which the domain name was first registered, as long as it has been continuously registered, regardless of if it has been transferred.
If there is only one eligible application for a second level domain during the Priority Status period, they will be allocated the exact match second level domain soon after the closing date. If there are multiple applicants, Category 1 applicants get priority over Category 2. However if there are multiple Category 1 applicants, they must agree on the allocation, otherwise the domain remains unallocated. If there are only Category 2 applicants, the domain is allocated to the applicant whose domain licence has the earliest creation date.
Should eligible Category 1 applicants not be able to agree on who should be delegated the second level equivalent, each applicant must continue to pay an annual application renewal fee if they want to remain eligible for Priority Status for the relevant domain name.
Should the registrants of any domain names already in the registry not apply for their second level equivalent by the Priority Closing Date, then any eligible person or organisation may apply for the domain name after the Priority Closing Date on 20th September.
Contact us to learn more about .au registrations.