What is the new .au domain?
The .com.au country-specific web address has been in use for over 30 years. Like similar country codes such as .uk, it allows web users to identify Australian businesses and commercial entities quickly. In March of this year, .au Domain Administration Limited (auDA) launched a new shorter domain – .au.
The .au direct name is a general-purpose domain open for anyone with a verifiable connection to Australia who wishes to create or manage an online presence.
Unlike .com.au, which requires an ABN or ACN to verify that you are an Australian business to register, a .au domain does not have this requirement, opening it up to the Australian general public. If you currently own a domain name in any other .au namespace, you have priority registration to the .au direct equivalent of your existing domain until 20 September 2022.
What happens if I don’t register my organization’s .au domain before the cut-off date?
If you don’t request a .au domain via priority allocation by 20 September, the domain will become available for registration by the general public on 3 October. After this date, anyone that meets the requirements of registering a .au domain will be able to register one, regardless of whether a .com.au or .net.au equivalent already exists.
What does this mean for my business?
While this new domain offers businesses, organisations, and individuals opportunities to rebrand, extend or change their online presence, it can also pose a significant risk. Cybercriminals can also use this as an opportunity to commit fraudulent activity against your business. By registering your business’ .au name, a cybercriminal could impersonate your organisation by creating a fake online presence. This could include creating a copy of your website or using the .au domain to send phishing emails under your company’s name.
What steps should I take to protect my business or organisation?
While these changes will not inherently cause issues, you can take some steps to protect your organisation. The ACSC recommends that all Australian businesses, organisations, and individuals take advantage of the priority allocation process to register the .au direct equivalents of the existing domain names.
It is common practice for businesses to register the same names across multiple domains, for instance, gcit.com.au and gcit.net.au. When the .au direct namespace domain launched on 24 March this year, the Priority Allocation Process was created. This process allows existing registrants in the .au registry the first opportunity to apply for the .au direct match of their existing domain name/s. To qualify for priority access, you must have registered the domain name before the launch of the new .au domain.
How do I register for a Priority Allocation for a .au namespace domain?
To register the .au direct match of your existing domain name, you must apply for priority status by 20 September 2022 (23:59 UTC 20 September / 9:59 AM AEST 21 September). You can do this either through your current registrar or another accredited registrar. If you use a new registrar, you will need to retrieve a priority token from the Priority ID Token tool. This token enables a registrar to confirm that you are the owner of the matching existing domain name.
What can I do with the new domain once I have registered it?
If you have an existing web presence, one of the easiest things you can do is to create a redirect from the .au domain to your existing website. A redirect ensures that anyone searching for your business will find the correct site regardless of whether they use .au or.com.au. Of course, many businesses already do this with .net.au and .com addresses.
Another option is moving your website to the .au domain and redirecting your current .com.au address. Ultimately the web address you choose for your business will depend on the needs of your business.
To learn more about the new .au domain, visit auDA, the administrator of Australian .au domains.