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The Australian entrepreneurial landscape is rapidly being transformed due to digitalisation. There are more than 3.4 million .au domains registered and the count is growing by the day. 

To support this growth and offer more domain name choices to people aspiring to create a digital presence, .au Domain Administration (auDA) is launching a new domain — .au direct. 

So if: 

  • You’ve heard about this launch and wondering what it means for your existing site, or
  • You’re thinking of starting a website anytime soon in the Australian internet space

This guide will come in handy for all your questions related to .au direct.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of the new .au direct domain and how it’s different from the .com.au domain. 

Let’s begin. 

What is a .au Direct Domain?

The .au direct is the new Second-Level Domain (SLD) being launched in Australia. To understand the .au direct better, first, let’s go through the basic structure of a URL. 

Here it is. 

url explained

As you can see in the image, .com.au is an SLD. So until now, Australian websites are being registered under the second-level domain with extensions like .com, .net, .org, etc. 

For example, www.yoursite.com.au , www.yoursite.net.au, etc

However, from March 2022 onwards Australian people will also have a choice to register with direct .au domain names. auDA will officially launch the .au direct domain on 24th March 2022. 

So if you opt for this new domain, your website address would look like www.yoursite.au.

.com.au vs .au : Difference

Some of the most common domain options in Australia are .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, .asn.au, .id.au, etc. But .com.au is the most used domain. As per statistics, over 90% of Australian sites are registered under the .com.au domain. 

The key difference between the .com.au and .au domain is that .au is a second-level domain starting without any extension such as .com or .net. 

So, for the first time, Australia would have an SLD starting directly with .au. That’s why it’s also referred to as .au direct. 

Here’s the .au domain name system hierarchy for better understanding.

domain-name-hirearchy

Source

Country-Code domains help you effectively target the traffic from specific geographic areas. Moreover, it also has a better SEO value since you can rank for country-based search results.

Some other examples of such direct domains include .ca (Canada), .uk (United Kingdom), .nz (New Zealand), etc. 

Choosing the Right Domain 

People or organisations can choose any domain names in .au namespaces as long as they’re eligible and names are available. 

But your domain name extension has to be in line with auDA’s guidelines. They’ve defined a set of licencing rules as to who can register what type of domain name extension.

They’ve classified two broad categories namely “Open .au Namespaces” and “Closed .au Namespaces”. Let’s learn about both.

Open .au Namespaces

  • .com.au: The commercial entities like businesses, corporates, industries, etc. either registered with Australian Business Number (ABN) or state governments should use the .com.au domain. 
  • .net.au: Similar to .com.au, businesses or organisations registered with ABN or state governments can also opt for a .net.au extension. 
  • .org.au: This domain is specifically meant for charities and non-profit organisations. 
  • .au direct: .au direct domains can be registered by anyone — individual, business, organisation, etc. — having connections with Australia.
  • .asn.au: This extension should be used by political parties, associations, trade unions, sports or special interest clubs, etc. 
  • .id.au: .id.au domain is meant for any Australian citizen or individual who may want to start their website. 

Closed .au Namespaces

Thus, .au direct doesn’t require a site to belong to any specific business, service, or organisation type. This gives you much more flexibility. 

However, if you’re not sure what domain name or extension would work best for you, consider consulting an accomplished SEO agency to get expert advice. 

Reasons for Launching .au Domain

The Australian government conducted a public consultation in 2015, 2018, and 2019 to know their citizens’ viewpoints on this new domain being launched. 

Moreover, a new .au direct domain name would open up many possibilities for Australians aspiring to have an online presence. We’ll discuss this in more detail in the next section.

Based on the above factors the decision was taken to launch the new .au direct domain.

What are the Benefits of .au Direct?

Here are some of the reasons you should consider getting a .au direct domain name for yourself or your business. 

Anyone Can Register

A .au direct domain doesn’t have any specific licensing rules that apply to domains like .org.au, .edu.au, etc. So technically any individual with an Australian identity or connection can register for it. 

However, note that if the matching names are already registered in any of the SLD .au domains, they’ll be given a priority to claim the same name in .au direct. 

Short, Simple, Uniquely Australian

With .au direct your website URL would become shorter and simpler since it won’t have SLD extensions such as .com, .net, etc. This would help your audience type your domain name easily on any device. Besides, it’ll also be easy to remember. 

And not to forget, having just .au as an extension would make your domain uniquely stand out as Australian. 

Wider Choice of Domain Names 

Since top-level domains like .com, .net, .org, etc. have already been around for years, most good domain names might have been taken. This leaves you with very limited choices to select and register a new domain name. 

With .au direct, you’d get broader options because it’s reserved for Australians only. So the domain names that you can’t register with .com or .net extension may be easily available on .au direct. 

Secure a Matching Domain Name

It’s a common practice among businesses to register multiple domain names and redirect them to the main website. Although it’s not compulsory, it can help you increase your reach. 

Moreover, it’s also a way to protect your brand identity. For instance, you have a website www.yoursite.com.au. Now if you don’t claim the .au domain name — www.yoursite.au, it’ll be available for registration. So anyone can start a site with your brand name. 

Thus, even if you don’t want to operate a website under the new .au direct domain name, it still makes sense to register and secure your brand name. If you require further advice on this, you can also hire professional SEO services in Australia. 

Also, note that .au direct is optional. If you don’t get it registered, it won’t impact your existing .au domain.

How to get Your .au Direct Domain?

Just like you register any other .au domain, you can apply for a .au direct name through auDA accredited registrars once it’s launched on 24th March 2022.

Some registrars may offer you an expression of interest service prior to the launch date. But auDA neither endorses such services nor guarantees the approval of names through this mode.

Furthermore, auDA has already put a priority allocation process in place for those who already have a .au domain and want to register a matching .au direct name. 

So you don’t have to worry as long as your registrar applies through the priority allocation process. 

Priority Allocation Process

When .au direct will launch, all the corresponding names that already exist in .au domains like .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, etc., will be kept on hold. These names will be held for six months from the launch date — until 20th September 2022. 

Thus, the existing .au registrants would be given the first priority to register their matching .au direct domain. If they don’t apply within the priority allocation period, these names will be released and will be available for regular applicants. 

Now, let’s say there are multiple applicants for the same .au direct name. For instance, the existing domains www.yoursite.com.au and www.yoursite.org.au, both applied for direct name www.yoursite.au

In such cases, the name will be allotted to the category 1 applicants. 

Categories are defined like this:

  • Category 1: The .au domains registered before 4 February 2018
  • Category 2: The .au domains registered after 4 February 2018

So the older domain (Category 1) would have a priority over the newer domain (Category 2). You can also refer to auDA’s priority allocation fact sheet for more details on this. 

Moreover, you can use the Priority Status Tool to:

  • Check the priority category for a given domain
  • Find out if there are matching names in other .au domains and their priority category
  • See if there are other applications for the matching .au direct domain

Eligibility

Anyone with an Australian presence is eligible to apply for a .au direct domain. This domain is open for individuals, businesses, organisations, associations, etc. as long as they have an Australian connection. 

That said, let’s take a look at some of the important dates regarding the .au direct launch. 

.au Timeline: Key Dates you Should Know

Now, we have discussed the ins and outs of the .au direct domain. It makes sense to revisit some of the key dates that you need to remember so that you can be on top of your .au direct application process. 

This timeline image should make it clear for you. 

priority-allocation-timeline

Source

Also, here’s the table of key dates for easier interpretation.

Date/DurationEvent
04 February 2018Cut-off date Priority Category 1 (All the domain names registered before this date will be treated as category 1 domains)
04 February 2018 to 20 September 2022Priority Category 2 (Category 1 will be given preference over category 2 in case they both apply for the same domain name)
24 March 2022Official launch of .au direct domains. .auDa will start accepting domain name applications.
24 March 2022 to 20 September 2022Existing domain names will be kept on hold for “Priority Allocation” applications over the next six months.
20 September 2022“Priority Allocation” process ends. The unclaimed domain names will be released and be available for general applications.

Thus, if you’ve decided to register for a matching .au direct name, ensure you apply within the priority allocation period — from 24th March 2022 to 20th September 2022. 

And for all the other applicants, you need to focus on the launch date and apply as soon as you can to avail your preferred .au direct name.

Wrapping Up

As online purchases keep rising, it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to establish their digital presence. 

If it’s your first time taking your brand online — whether business or personal, .au direct can be a great launchpad for you. You’d get maximum choices to register your domain names with this new domain being launched. 

At the same time, if you already have an existing .au domain, registering a .au direct will help you create a shorter version of your URL. Additionally, you can also prevent your brand’s domain name from falling into some other hands. 

So approach an auDA accredited registrar and get your .au direct name. 

 

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