|Introduced||5 March 1986|
|TLD type||Country code top-level domain|
|Sponsor||.au Domain Administration (auDA)|
|Intended use||Entities connected with Australia|
|Actual use||Very popular in Australia|
|Registered domains||3,068,471 (January 2017)|
|Registration restrictions||Limited to individuals, companies, and organisations located in Australia; different subdomains have various other restrictions|
|Structure||Names may be registered only at the third level within generic second-level categories|
|Documents||IANA report on redelegation; ICANN registry agreement|
|Dispute policies||.au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP), Complaints (Registrant Eligibility) Policy|
|Registry website||auDA; Afilias Australia|
.au is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Australia. It was first created on 5 March 1986. Domain name policy is managed by .au Domain Administration (auDA). As of July 2018, the registry is operated by Afilias.
The domain name was originally allocated by Jon Postel, operator of IANA to Kevin Robert Elz of Melbourne University in 1986. After an approximately five-year process in the 1990s, the Internet industry created a self-regulatory body called .au Domain Administration to operate the domain. It obtained assent from ICANN in 2001, and commenced operating a new competitive regime for domain registration on 1 July 2002. Since this new regime, any registration has to be ordered via a registrar.
Oversight of .au is by .au Domain Administration (auDA). It is a not-for-profit organisation whose membership is derived from Internet organisations, industry members and interested individuals. The organisation operates with the endorsement of the Australian Government and with the delegated authority of ICANN.
Policy for .au is devised by policy development panels. These panels are convened by auDA and combine public input with industry representation to derive policy. The day-to-day operation of the .au registry technical facility is tendered out by auDA. AusRegistry has performed the registry role since the initial tender in 2002. In December 2017, Afilias won a competitive tender process to take over the running of the registry from AusRegistry. The registry does not sell domain registration services direct to the consumer, rather consumers who wish to register a domain must do so via a domain name registrar. After the industry's liberalisation in 2002, there is an active competitive market in registrars with a variety of prices and services.
In 2008 auDA changed its longstanding policy and allowed changes in ownership of .au domains. Although the secondary market was initially slow to take off there have recently been signs of increasing maturity in the .au aftermarket culminating in the record $125,500 sale of investmentproperty.com.au. The auDA ISS is a world-first industry initiative aimed at improving the security of .au registrar businesses, protecting .au registrants and enhancing the overall stability and integrity of the .au domain space. auDA introduced the ISS in October 2013 as a mandatory requirement, and all accredited registrars must be certified as ISS compliant within 24 months. Discount Domain Name Services (DDNS), Cheaper Domains and Information Brokers, part of the Total Internet Group, are the first three auDA accredited registrars to achieve ISS compliance.
The naming rules for .au require registrations under second-level categories that describe a type of entity. .com.au, for example, is designed for commercial entities. This follows a similar allocation policy to that formerly used in other countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Registrations are currently permitted below a second-level domain, such as "yourname.com.au". In April 2016, auDA announced it would introduce registrations directly at the second level, such as "yourname.au". Direct registrations were due to be implemented in 2017 although due to an ongoing debate on how cybersquatting would be mitigated with the release of the direct second-level registrations has led to a delay, with a new launch date of 24th March 2022.
Registering a domain in the .au namespace requires registrants to have either an exact match or a "close and substantial connection" to their desired domain name. This "policy rich" approach to the name space, begun by Robert Elz and continued by auDA, has meant the .au domain space has avoided the cybersquatting and fraudulent uses of domains prevalent in other more permissive domains.
Registration of a .au domain is completed through a reseller, known as a registrar, with the registry acting as the wholesale provider. auDA manages domain name policy as the ICANN and Australian Government-endorsed manager of the .au DNS.
- .com.au – Commercial entities
- .net.au – Commercial entities (historically only ISPs, but the use has been broadened)
- .org.au – Associations and non-profit organisations (historically only for organisations that did not fit in other categories)
- .edu.au – Educational institutions (see Third-level domains, below)
- .gov.au – Governments and their departments (see Third-level domains, below)
- .asn.au – Associations and non-profit organisations
- .id.au – Individuals (by real name or common alias)
- .csiro.au – CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)
Community geographic domain names
Introduced in 2004, "community geographic domain names" (CGDNs) are intended to be used for "community websites that reflect community interests such as local business, tourism, historical information, culture, sporting groups, local events and news" of a local community. These domains are managed by the .au Community Domains Trust Archived 6 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine (auCD) on behalf of auDA. The funding of auCD was provided from a ballot of locality names in the .com.au and .net.au domain spaces; previously, any locality with a postcode had been restricted from being registered as a commercial domain name.
CGDNs use the state or territory's common abbreviation as the second level of the domain. For example, a community based in Victoria would receive a domain ending in ".vic.au", a Northern Territory community would use ".nt.au", and so on. The third level of the domain must be an addressable locality within that state or territory, of the form "townname.vic.au". Where a name is duplicated within a state – for instance, between a smaller town, and a suburb of a larger town or city – the locality name may be suffixed with the name of the local government area, town or city to which it is associated (e.g. "suburbname-cityname.vic.au").
Holders of CGDNs must be "a legally registered, not-for-profit entity; and [...] representative of the local community for the purpose of holding the domain name licence." In particular, commercial entities and local governments are not permitted to hold a CGDN in their own right; they are however permitted to hold membership in such entities set up to hold a CGDN.
The use of ".gov.au" as a second level domain is for Australian Federal government and for its initiatives, while the use of a third-level domain, being an Australian state abbreviation, is an identifier that the domain belongs to either the relevant state government or a local government inside the state. The ".edu.au" is also split up into state-based categories in most cases.
auDA has delegated responsibility of the .edu.au domain to Australian Information and Communications Technology in Education Committee (AICTEC), which formed a specialist sub-committee, .edu.au Domain Administration Committee (eDAC).
Schools use a domain name that reflect their locale, and these state-based third-level domains are managed independently by the states. For example, a school in Western Australia would register "schoolname.wa.edu.au". Similarly, replacing the bold part of these domains, Victoria would use ".vic", Queensland would use ".qld", South Australia would use ".sa", Tasmania would use ".tas", Northern Territory would use ".nt" and the Australian Capital Territory would use ".act". However, after a change of internet services in Queensland State Schools their domain names were changed from "schoolname.qld.edu.au" to "schoolname.eq.edu.au". This is not the case for private schools in Queensland. Often, domains can even contain a fourth level: for instance, a NSW public school might have the domain "schoolname.schools.nsw.edu.au".
Tertiary institutions are typically exempt from requiring state-based distinctions. For example, Edith Cowan University in Western Australia has a domain of "ecu.edu.au" rather than "ecu.wa.edu.au", Monash University in Victoria uses "monash.edu.au" rather than "monash.vic.edu.au". This difference can be associated with states having responsibility for primary and secondary education while the Commonwealth has responsibility for tertiary education; tertiary institutions often having a presence in multiple states.
|Australian Capital Territory||act.gov.au||act.edu.au|
|New South Wales||nsw.gov.au||schools.nsw.edu.au|
|Catholic Education System||N/A||catholic.edu.au|
Historic second-level domains
Some second-level domain names are no longer actively used. Whilst registrations are grandfathered for some, no new registrations are accepted.
- .archie.au – Host of the Archie information service of the early 1990s. Has since been deleted
- .conf.au – Conferences and other short-lived events, now only exists for linux.conf.au.
- .gw.au – Gateways and miscellaneous AARNet routing equipment. Has since been deleted
- .info.au – General information. Has since been deleted
- .otc.au – A mapping domain for X.400 addresses; was obsoleted by telememo.au. Has since been deleted
- .oz.au – Historical domain name for Australian sites. Australia's original top-level domain for use in the store-and-forward Internet messaging system MHSnet was .oz. The top-level domain later officially became .au and those domains in .oz were moved to .oz.au. As of April 2011, many subdomains under cs.mu.oz.au and ee.mu.oz.au are still in use within the CSSE and EEE departments of the University of Melbourne.
- .telememo.au – A mapping domain for X.400 addresses. Has since been deleted
As of September 2017, there were around 3,115,365 active .au domains.
Other Australian domain names
.au is not the only top-level domain name assigned to Australia. Some Australian territories have their own ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code, and therefore have their own ccTLD as well:
- .cx – Christmas Island
- .cc – Cocos (Keeling) Islands
- .nf – Norfolk Island
- .hm – Heard and McDonald Islands
As the appropriate authorities were late in recognising the need to manage these, most were registered by entrepreneurs for use as vanity domains unrelated to the locale they serve. .cc, for example, is now operated by VeriSign. .hm represents a nature preserve with no human inhabitants.
There are also two geographic top-level domain names assigned to Australia in which are used by individuals and businesses within a particular region, they are:
- .melbourne – for Victorian registered businesses, entities associated with the state of Victoria or Australian citizens and residents with a Victorian address.
- .sydney – for New South Wales registered businesses, entities associated with the state of New South Wales or Australian citizens and residents with a New South Wales address.
- "AusRegistry EOM Report January 2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 March 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
- "IANA WHOIS Service for .au". IANA. IANA. 23 December 2016. Archived from the original on 15 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
- "Afilias Chosen to Supply .au Registry Services". 18 December 2017. Archived from the original on 23 August 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
- Cukier, Kenneth Neil (10 September 2001). "Australian Government-Backed Body To Gain Control of Internet Suffix .au". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 19 September 2001.
- Alston, Senator the Hon Richard (December 2000). "Report of auDA's Achievements" (PDF). Letter to .au Domain Administrator Ltd. Retrieved 10 February 2017.[permanent dead link]
- "New .au registrant transfers policy – implementation update 26 February 2008". Archived from the original on 31 August 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
- "theage.com.au record sale of domain name". The Age. Melbourne. Archived from the original on 21 February 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
- Auda Certification panel 19 December 2013
- ".au Domain Administration Ltd". auda.org.au. Archived from the original on 21 February 2021. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- "About second level .au domain names". .au Domain Administration Ltd. 2 June 2021.
- "Guidelines on the Interpretation of Policy Rules for Open 2LDs". .au Domain Administration Ltd. 17 December 2012. Archived from the original on 13 February 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "2013 Pearcey Hall of Fame". Pearcey Foundation. 8 August 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2021. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- .au Domain Administration (2008). Policy Rules and Guidelines for Community Geographic Domain Names (CGDNs) (2008-04) Archived 31 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed on 23 November 2009.
- .au Domain Administration (13 May 2005). Release of geographic names in com.au and net.au Archived 31 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Media release. Accessed on 23 November 2009.
- .au Community Domains Trust Archived 6 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine. .au Community Domains Trust: About Us Archived 1 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed on 23 November 2009.
- .au Community Domains Trust. Live CGDN websites Archived 30 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed on 23 November 2009.
- .au Community Domains Trust. CGDN websites coming soon Archived 1 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed on 23 November 2009.
- "Application of auDA Published Policies to the edu.au 2LD". auDA. February 2004. Archived from the original on 25 August 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
- "Domain reports - AusRegistry". ausregistry.com.au. Archived from the original on 23 February 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
- "New Melbourne domain names become available to the public in Australian first". ABC News (Australia). 11 November 2014. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.