Time is running out. Australian small businesses have until September 20, 2022 to register a domain name of .au, allowing the .com, .net or .org to be dropped from the internet address.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson has implored small businesses to take urgent action by 20 September deadline to safeguard their brand and identity on the internet or risk seeing impersonators, web-name ‘campers’ or cyber criminals take up domain names just like theirs.

The Ombudsman said the changes could see businesses lose their customer base or be at the mercy of cyber criminals impersonating them if they did not proactively sign up to the new system.

These shorter Australian domain names are currently reserved for businesses that already use the relevant com.au, net.au or org.au addresses until 20 September 2022. This change was announced by .au Domain Administration (auDA) which is the organisation responsible for internet domains in Australia. 

Previously, it was only possible to licence lower level .au domain names, such as com.au, net.au, org.au.

If a business already had a domain name ending in .au, and registered it before 24 March 2022, the matching .au direct domain has been placed on a six-month priority hold – meaning that they have the first choice to register it. Any domain names not registered by 20 September 2022 will be available for the general population. 

To be eligible for a .au direct name, you must have a verifiable Australian presence, which includes being a citizen or permanent resident, or being an organisation registered in Australia.

A domain name ending in the .au namespace (com.au, .net.au, .org.au, .edu.au etc.) indicates the business, organisation or individual using it has a connection to Australia. 

There are also specific rules around whether businesses can register domains in the .au namespace.

You will be able to register new names via any participating .au accredited registrar in accordance with the .au Licensing Rules, as long as you are eligible to register the domain name.

Exact matches will be put on Priority Hold for the Priority Application Period to prevent them from being registered by others and to enable existing registrants the first opportunity to register (Priority Status) the exact match of their existing domain names. 

In some cases, there also may be more than one applicant for the same .au direct domain name as there are different registrants that hold the same domain name licence in different namespaces. In these cases, the .au direct exact match will be allocated according to the Priority Allocation Process. 

To find out more information, please visit the auDA website or contact the team at MGI.