|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||3,339,032 (30 June 2021)|
|Registration restrictions||Limited to individuals, companies, and organisations located in Australia; different subdomains have various other restrictions. See .au Domain Administration Rules: Licensing (2019-01)|
|Structure||Names may be registered at the third level within generic second-level categories; direct second-level registration allowed from 24 March 2022|
|Documents||IANA report on redelegation; ICANN registry agreement|
|Dispute policies||.au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) (2016-01), .au Domain Administration Rules: Licensing (2019-01), Complaints Policy (2015-01), Complaints (Registrant Eligibility) Policy (2004-01)|
|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.
After an approximately five-year process in the 1990s, the Internet industry created a self-regulatory body called .au Domain Administration (auDA) 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.
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 24 March 2022.
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)
The *.edu.au, *.gov.au and *.csiro.au namespaces are referred to as "Closed" namespaces, since registration is not available to the general public. All other second-level namespaces are referred to as "Open" namespaces.
.au Direct namespace
The direct second-level domain namespace, marketed as ".au Direct" has been made available to the public from 24 March 2022. The .au Direct namespace is intended to complement rather than replace the existing second-level domain namespaces and to provide domain holders with the option to register "shorter, simpler domain names".
Unlike the existing second-level domain namespaces, there is no restriction on the domain names that can be registered in the .au Direct namespace, provided the domain name applicant satisfies the Australian presence requirement.
In 2019, auDA released a priority implementation policy, whereby existing domain name holders may apply for priority registration of a matching domain name in the new .au Direct namespace. Three priority categories exist:
- Category 1 - Holders of domain names created prior to 4 February 2018.
- Category 2 - Holders of domain names created on or after 4 February 2018 but prior to 24 March 2022.
- General Availability - All other applicants.
Eligible domain name holders may apply during the allocated sunrise period commencing 24 March 2022 until 20 September 2022. For example, the holders of domain.com.au, domain.org.au and domain.net.au would each be eligible to apply for priority registration of domain.au during the sunrise period.
If there is more than one priority application for a given domain name, priority is allocated as follows:
- Category 1 applications have priority over Category 2 applications.
- Where there are two or more Category 1 applications, priority is allocated by agreement between the respective holders, with allocation being placed on hold until consensus is reached or there is only one remaining Category 1 applicant.
- Where there are two or more Category 2 applications, priority is allocated to the holder with the earliest creation date.
Any unclaimed domain names are released to general availability at the end of the sunrise period.
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" ("eq" is an abbreviation of the government department name "Education Queensland"). 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
Registration Policies and Rules
The .au domain namespace has strict licensing and eligibility requirements, compared to other gTLDs. 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.
auDA maintains a set of formal published Policies and Rules which apply to all domains registered in the .au namespace.
Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules - 2002 to 2021
The Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules were first adopted in May 2002. Several revisions were subsequently introduced in 2005, 2008, and 2012 (subsequently updated in 2018).
Under the 2012 Eligibility Rules, registering a domain in the "open" .au namespace required that:
- the registrant must:
- be an Australian organization or individual, the holder of an Australian trade mark, or an foreign company licensed to trade in Australia; and
- conform to the specific registrant eligibility requirements the second-level domain; and
- the domain name must:
- be an exact match, abbreviation, or acronym of the registrant's name or trade mark; or
- have a "close and substantial connection" to the registrant.
auDA Rules: Licensing - 2021 onward
auDA adopted revised rules for domain names in 2021. The new rules (known as the .au Domain Administration Rules: Licensing) apply to all domain names created or renewed after 12 April 2021.
The new rules provide an "Australian Presence" requirement for all domain name holders. To satisfy the Australian Presence requirement, an individual must be an Australian permanent resident or citizen, while an organisation must either be incorporated in Australia, or hold an Australian Business Number (ABN). Holders of an Australian trade mark also satisfy the Australian Presence requirement, provided the domain name is an exact match of the trade mark.
For most domain types, the Licensing Rules also require that the domain name must be:
- a match, acronym or abbreviation of the name of the holder; or
- a match of the name of products, services, events, programs, premises or activities associated with the domain name holder; or
- a match of the holder's Australian trade mark.
Sublicensing of a domain name is prohibited, unless the domain name holder is a parent company of the licensee.
Domain name monetisation is prohibited in the .org.au, .asn.au, .id.au and .edu.au and State/Territory geographic namespaces. Domain Name Monetisation is defined in the Licensing Rules as the practice of "application for a licence by a Person with the sole purpose of selling, leasing or holding the applied for Domain Name to generate revenue." and includes warehousing or acquiring domain name licenses for the sole purpose of transfer to another purpose.
.au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP)
The auDRP was adopted in 2016, and applies to all domain names in the Australian open 2LD's registered after 2002. All domain registrants and registrars are contractually required to agree to the auDRP under the terms of registration or accreditation, and are bound by decisions issued by auDRP Dispute Resolution Providers.
auDRP Complaints are determined by an external accredited Dispute Resolution Provider. The Resolution Provider is chosen by the complainant. As of 2022, there are two auDA-approved dispute resolution providers:
- the World Intellectual Property Organization; and
- the Resolution Institute (formerly LEADR & IAMA).
A single domain name dispute may concern one or more Australian domain names.
The decision-making panel comprises either a single panelist or three panelists, at the complainant's election. If the complainant elects a single panelist, the respondent (domain holder) may elect to have the proceeding determined by three panelists instead. The decision is made "on the papers" (that is, on the basis of written submissions by the complainant and the respondent) and no hearings are required.
Upon lodgement of an auDRP complaint, the domain name's registrar of record is required to impose a registry lock on the domain name until the completion of the proceeding. This is to prevent the respondent from altering or transferring the domain name during the dispute.
Panelists must follow the auDRP. In addition to the formal auDRP Rules, each Resolution Provider may prescribe Supplemental Rules, relating to their requirements for format of submissions, timing and processes. Panellists are not bound to follow formal rules of evidence, or precedent. However, there are published practice guidelines for auDRP panelists.
To succeed in a domain name complaint under the auDRP, the complainant must establish all three of the following criteria:
- the complainant has legitimate rights or interests in the domain name;
- the respondent (domain holder) has no legitimate rights or interests in the domain name; and
- the respondent has registered or used the domain name in bad faith. (This criterion is a key difference from the UDRP, which requires registration and use in bad faith.)
There are two remedies available to a successful complainant:
- cancellation of the domain name (the domain name is dropped and returned to the pool of available domain names); or
- transfer of the domain name to the complainant, provided the complainant satisfies the eligibility requirements to hold the domain name.
If a successful decision is issued, subject to any legal appeal, the remedy is implemented automatically by the domain name's registrar of record without input from the respondent.
Decisions issued under the auDRP are published in an archive database.
auDA issues an Annual Report as at the end of each financial year (30 June). Since 2019, auDA has also issued quarterly statistical reports. These reports contain statistical information about the performance of the .au domain and other information about auDA's operations during the reporting period.
According to auDA's Annual Reports, the total domains under management (being the total number of active domain names) and average new domains created per month are as follows:
|Financial Year||Total Domains Under Management||Average New Domains Created per Month||Reference|
The .com.au second-level domain namespace accounts for the vast majority of domain name registrations. In 2020-21, the number of .com.au domains registered exceeded 3 million for the first time.
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.
Some Australian local government authorities have adopted *.cc domains as an convenient abbreviation for "City Council". For example, the Brisbane City Council uses the domain name "bne.cc" as a URL shortener.
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.
- "auDA Annual Report 2020-21" (PDF). auda.org.au. auDA. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 November 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "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.
- ".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. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020.
- ".au Domain Names". auda.org.au. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
- ".au Direct". auda.org.au. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
- ".au Domain Administration Rules: Licensing". auda.org.au. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
- ".au Domain Administration Rules: .au Direct Priority Implementation". auda.org.au. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
- .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.
- "Review of the edu.au Domain's Governance Arrangements and Eligibility and Allocation Policies" (PDF). www.domainname.edu.au. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
- "2013 Pearcey Hall of Fame". Pearcey Foundation. 8 August 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2021. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- ".au Published Policies". auda.org.au. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ""Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for the Open Second Level Domains (2LDs) (2002-07)" (PDF). auda.org.au. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Rules for Open 2LDs (2005-01)" (PDF). auda.org.au. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open 2LDs (2008-05)" (PDF). auda.org.au. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for the Open 2LDs (2012-04)". auda.org.au. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "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.
- ".au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP) (2016-01)". auda.org.au. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
- "Dispute Resolution". auda.org.au. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
- "Resolution Institute". Retrieved 11 February 2022.
- "auDRP Overview" (PDF). Retrieved 11 February 2022.
- "auDRP Archive". auda.org.au. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
- "Corporate and Research Reports". auda.org.au. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "auDA Annual Report 2020-21" (PDF). auda.org.au. auDA. pp. 34–35. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "auDA Annual Report 2019-20" (PDF). auda.org.au. auDA. pp. 16–17. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "auDA Annual Report 2018-19" (PDF). auda.org.au. auDA. p. 7. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "auDA Annual Report 2017-18" (PDF). auda.org.au. auDA. p. 7. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "auDA Annual Report 2016-17" (PDF). auda.org.au. auDA. p. 8. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- "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.