The highly-anticipated opportunity to register an Australian domain name has finally arrived but you only have until the middle of September to make a priority claim over a ‘.au’ domain name.

After that date, it’s open to the general public and if you haven’t lodged your priority claim, it may go to a competitor.  In other words, don’t waste time!

Remember, once you own a domain name, no-one else can use it.  And while this article outlines plenty of reasons why it makes good commercial sense to use and promote a ‘.au’ domain, there’s no harm in owning one and simply parking it.  In any event, both addresses will point to the same website.

Who can make a priority claim over a ‘.au’ domain name?

If you currently own a domain name that ends in ‘.com.au’ or ‘.net.au’ or ‘org.au’, you are eligible for a priority claim over ‘.au’ direct.  This domain is also known as a second-level domain.

Bear in mind that others can also apply for this priority claim and competing claims could be lodged. Any dispute would have to be resolved according to the rules of the ’.au’ namespace which is managed by the au Domain Administration (auDA) on behalf of the Australian Government.

Who can use the ‘.au’ domain name?

Eligibility isn’t restricted to Australian citizens or residents, but applicants are required to have a presence in Australia.  The easiest way to do this is to have a registered trade mark in Australia that that matches your domain name exactly.  Commercial entities may also be able to provide proof of their Australian presence to the auDA by way of their Australian Business Number (ABN), Australian Company Number (CAN) or business registration number.

Applicants can be businesses, individuals, families, organisations etc.

Why is a ‘.au. domain name so important?

A domain name is really important for any business, regardless of the size or nature of the operation.

It not only gives the business a unique identity and helps people find your website, it’s also essential for building credibility, authority, trust and professionalism.  Plus it plays an important role offline as well as online, reinforcing your brand identity and amplifying your marketing efforts.

This innovation to the ‘.au’ namespace is the most significant since ‘.com.au’ was launched in 1986 and it opens up a whole lot of opportunities for businesses.  For example, the ‘.au’ direct means your website address will be simpler and shorter, making it easier and more straightforward for customers to remember.  Promoting the brand and building a reputation will also be easier.

Many other countries have introduced second-level domains including the UK, New Zealand, China and Canada.  You probably have already seen websites that look like mybusiness.nz or bestcompany.uk.  The introduction of the second-level domain in Australia will give Aussie businesses a leg-up in the competitive global marketplace.

The shortened version is also easier to type!  For those organisations which engage with customers via smartphones should be falling over themselves to secure this new domain, as it will make their customers’ lives so much easier by helping to eliminate mistakes and frustration.

How do I register a ‘.au’ domain name?

You can register your new name through an authorised registrar, but it’s worth doing your homework as costs and services can vary.  You’ll find a list of accredited options on the auDA website or we recommend using VentraIP *

Who should register a ‘.au’ domain?

Existing registrants

Remember, if you have an existing ‘.com.au’ or similar domain name, you need to lodge your priority application before 20 September 2022.  If you don’t, some savvy business owner may jump ahead of you or grab the ‘.au’ direct when it opens to the public in September. And that could mean that your customers end up on a competitor’s website thinking it was yours, and you’d be powerless to do anything about it.

New businesses

If you’re starting a new business, this is a great opportunity to create a memorable (and shorter) web address.

Both existing and new businesses should consider registering multiple domain names in order to protect their brand from copycats and avoid any customer confusion.

Some quick tips for registering AU domain names

  • Check that the domain name is available by searching the WHOIS database.
  • If the one you want is unavailable, consider contacting the owner to see if they’re prepared to sell it to you.
  • Make your domain name short and memorable
  • Avoid confusing people with weird spellings
  • Don’t use numbers or hyphens in your domain name

A last word on why you need to register your AU domain name

If you don’t register your brand’s ‘.au’ domain, you could be putting your business at risk.

Someone else may secure it and trade from that website which could be extremely confusing for your customers and detrimental to your bottom-line.  It could also scupper some of your hard-earned SEO gains in terms of your Google rankings.

* if you sign up using this link we may earn a small commission, however we only recommend websites we genuinely use for our own businesses