It only took six years from one of those now defunct policy advisory groups, a Names Policy Panel, recommended it, but auDA has finally gotten around to announcing a definitive launch of second level .au domain names. They’re coming in March 2022.
The 2015 Names Policy Panel, of which I was a member, made its final report in December 2015 [pdf] and its main recommendation was “in principle that .au should be opened up to direct registrations” and “that the same policy rules which currently apply in the existing 2LDs should also apply to direct registrations.”
From my perspective .au is a dysfunctional namespace. Individuals have been ignored. There’s the .id.au 2LD with a paltry 12,800 registrations out of the 3.365 million .au domain name registrations. In mid-2014 around the peak of .id.au registrations it had 13,331 out of 2.841 million registrations. Sadly, despite the best intentions and various promotions, market share has declined and .id.au remains unloved. It currently is the only space individuals can register a .au domain name.
All the while ccTLDs around the world regularly report 30% to 50% of registrations going to individuals where they are freely able to register. While the recent mini boom in domain name registrations that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic has probably mostly passed where many people came up with new business ideas went online, or existing businesses came up with new ideas, under .au one had to have registered their business with the Australian Tax Office. Many Australian individuals who were ineligible to register .au domain names have registered in namespaces such as .com, .co or .me. Sadly also with the boom in social media I suspect individuals have just set up a Facebook or other social media page, for better and worse.
But good things come to those who wait and belatedly auDA announced today individuals, businesses and organisations will be able to register domain names in the new .au direct namespace from 24 March 2022.
“I am delighted to announce .au direct will be available from March 2022, providing consumers the opportunity to licence shorter, eye-catching names and bringing Australia in line with most other country code Top Level Domains including the United Kingdom (.uk), Canada (.ca), the USA (.us) and New Zealand (.nz),” said auDA CEO, Rosemary Sinclair AM in a statement released by auDA.
“The trusted, reliable and uniquely Australian .au domain has been supporting Australians online for more than 35 years and the launch of .au direct is an exciting innovation, delivering enhanced opportunities for Australian Internet users.”
Eligibility will be restricted basically to anyone with a verified Australian presence, including businesses, associations, government entities and individuals, subject to auDA’s licensing rules and the Priority Allocation Process.
There will be a Priority Allocation period with “a consistent and transparent process that will allow existing holders of domain name licences the first opportunity to register a corresponding domain in the new .au direct namespace. For example, the existing registrant of getyour.com.au, will be able to apply for Priority Status for getyour.au during the Priority Allocation period.”
The Priority Allocation will also determine how the .au direct name is allocated in the small fraction of cases where more than one interested registrant applies for Priority Status. For example, if Registrant A holds the licence for getyour.com.au and Registrant B holds the licence for getyour.net.au, the name will be allocated according to priority categories, which are determined by:
- The existing domain name creation date; and
- The Priority cut-off date of 4 February 2018, as outlined in auDA’s Priority Allocation Process.
Registrants will have six months to apply for Priority Status with an accredited registrar. If registrants do not apply, corresponding names will be made available for registration by the public after this six-month period.
For more information, auDA has a .au direct registration page.