Introduction of New Australian Domain Name

The auDA (.au Domain Administration Ltd) manages and oversees the development and administration of Australian domains such as .com.au.net.au, and .org.au. Australian domain names must meet the auDA’s minimum registration criteria, and only an Australian company, a foreign company registered in Australia, or an applicant or a registrant of the Australian trade mark are eligible for registration. The domain name should also be in the applicant’s legal name, business name, Australian trade name, or brand name closely associated with its trading name.

In April 2021, auDA implemented more rigorous qualifying conditions for domain names and proscribed its proprietors from licensing, renting, or leasing a domain name to third parties.

Previously, all an entity had to do was show that its trade mark and its chosen domain name had a similar or close affiliation. That, however, is no longer the case. Now, the domain name must contain the same word as the trade mark. For instance, if ‘Beauty & the Beast Salon’ is a registered trade mark, then an available domain name would be ‘beautybeastsalon.com.au’, whereas abbreviated forms such as bbsalon.com.au and other mix and match words such as beautybestsalon.com.au may violate the rules.

In the case of the .org.au domain, religious organisations, sports clubs, charitable organisations, and other unincorporated associations that are not registered with ACNC (Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission) are no longer eligible to have that domain.

Under the amended rules, .au domain owners are no longer permitted to rent, lease, or sub-license their domain names. Since auDA aims to improve consumer website management and transparency by ensuring that the registration of a domain name is the website’s operator, any sub-domains derived from a company’s primary domain are also subject to this limitation. 

auDA also introduced new complaint-handling procedures which allow an entity to request that a domain name be revoked through a systematic process if the registrant does not fulfil the eligibility pre-requisite. This is a significant change from the past when domain name complaints or disputes had to be resolved through court proceedings or auDRP (.au Domain Dispute Procedure) mediation. Thereby, the complaints handling process is projected to be more efficient and cost-effective because of this adjustment.

The above-changed rules were already in effect from 12 April 2021 and apply to all registrations, renewals, licencing, renting, and leasing to third parties from this date. It is crucial to verify that your current domain names comply with the new rules, so you do not inadvertently lose your domain names.

In addition to the tightened domain rules, a new Australian .au domain will be introduced. It is anticipated that overseas-based companies with corporations or branches in Australia will commonly employ this strategy to show their affiliation to Australia, for instance maintaining the new .au domain name toyota.au in addition to toyota.com.au.

To register for the new .au domain under this new scheme, you must be (i) an Australian citizen or permanent resident, (ii) an enterprise registered under the Australian Corporations Act (The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)), (iii) a foreign company with an ARBN under the Australian Corporations Act, or (iv) an individual or business with an ABN under the Australian Corporate Law. In addition, if you hold an Australian trade mark and the applicable domain name that explicitly matches the trade name, you may meet qualifying criteria.

Applications for the new domain is now open from 24 March 2022, and registrants of the existing .com.au domain will be able to register the new .au domain with the same name as the current domain name through the ‘Priority Status’ application for six months until 24 September 2022. Domains that were not registered during the six months will be available for public registration on a first-come, first-served basis. If multiple people apply for priority registration under the same domain name and there is no agreement between the parties, auDA will intervene and decide who owns the domain.

We urge those who own or manage a website in Australia to be familiar with the new Aussie domain and the rule changes, and to seek advice from intellectual property law professionals if you encounter any domain-related issues.


If you have any questions or require any assistance in seeking extensions, please contact us.

Disclaimer: The contents of this publication are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. The information may have been obtained from external sources and we do not guarantee the accuracy or currency of the information at the date of publication or in the future. Please obtain legal advice specific to your circumstances before taking any action on matters discussed in this publication.

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