You may have seen an email or some news about it, the rules for .au domain names are changing.
That means domains such as .com.au, .org.au, .net.au etc may be impacted by these new rule changes.
We break down what the key changes mean in simple terms and provide you with a clever way to check if you are impacted.
Who is auDA?
auDA stands for .au (dot Australia) Domain Administration and is the group responsible for the rules behind the use of the domain extension .au
That includes any domain like .com.au, .org.au, .net.au, .biz.au etc.
auDA in recent years has not explored too many changes, which is why the new registration requirements may come as a surprise to Australian business owners.
Why does auDA get to decide domain rules?
Essentially, whilst you may think you own your domain name, what you have purchased is actually a license to hold your domain name on that extension.
Domains after all simply direct people to an Internet Protocol (IP) address destination. They make it easier to find your business or website by putting it in everyday language.
What are the Australian domain name changes in 2021?
auDA is introducing a number of changes, with much of this starting from 12 April 2021.
Key points for business owners:
- Prohibit renting or leasing your domain name, except a related body corporate.
- Giving you 30 (instead of 12 days) to respond to a minor domain policy breach.
- Resetting your domain password (EPP key) 48 hours automatically after a domain transfer.
- Clarified that de-registered companies or deceased persons can not hold a domain.
- 2 days to restore a domain you’ve cancelled (fees may apply).
- New warranties provided by auDA, complaint process and authorisation to collect your personal information.
- Changes to who can have a registered Australian domain name.
- Changes that impact nonincorporated organisations holding a .org.au domain.
Changes to .com.au and .net.au domain name rules
A key change is the Australian Presence Requirement for .com.au and .net.au domains.
The change is being implemented to protect the .com.au and .net.au domains from being used by foreign companies.
If you are using the ‘Trade mark’ or ‘Trade mark owner’ eligibility criteria for your domain, then this rule will impact you.
How do I check which .com.au and .net.au domain eligibility I use?
For most businesses and organisations, you would have likely chosen the ‘Company’ or similar eligibility criteria which asks for your ABN or ACN details.
If however, you have selected the trade mark option, then you will need to make sure you comply with the new rules.
To check what your domain eligibility criteria is, follow these steps:
- Type in your domain name to the auDA Whois domain checker.
- Add the captcha text to verify you are not a bot.
- Press ‘Submit’.
- Then scroll down to find the section that says ‘Eligibility Type’ and see if it says trade mark or not.
If it says ‘Company’ or not trade mark or similar, then you won’t need to be concerned with this change.
If however, it does have trade mark then you need to be aware of the new rules. Or advise your registrar to change your eligibility criteria.
For example, Google uses the ‘Trademark owner” method for its domain google.com.au
Note: You may find that your domain registrar has already contacted you generically about this change, or not at all. The process is quite manual in that there is no way at the moment for us to see with ease whether a clients domain has been impacted. Hence, it is your responsibility to check.
New rules for trade mark owners
If you hold this eligibility type for your domain then your trade mark must match your domain name exactly.
The exceptions are:
- Domain nameserver identifiers such as com.au;
- punctuation marks such as an exclamation point ! or an apostrophe;
- articles such as ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and ’or ‘of’; and
If your name is not an exact match of the words in the trade mark, you will not be able to register or renew that domain name.
Under the new licensing rules impacting all domains (not just trade mark presence), companies can apply for and hold .au domains on behalf of another company in their corporate group (a ‘related body corporate’) as long as that related company meets the Australian presence requirement. This does not apply to registrars who can’t apply or hold a .au on behalf of a related body corporate due to conflict of interest.
In addition, the definition of ‘commercial entity’ has been expanded to include Commonwealth entities, statutory bodies under commonwealth state or territory legislation, incorporated limited partnerships under State or Territory legislation, trading co-operatives and the government.
Note: If you meet the other Australian Presence Requirement, then you should ask your domain registrar to change your eligibility type so you can keep your domain.
Changes to .org.au domain name rules
If you are a nonincorporated association then you’ll no longer be able to hold a .org.au domain unless you are on the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission’s (ACNC) Register of Charities.
Although, you could consider registering another domain such as in the asn.au space or changing the legal structure of your organisation.
Organisations who are eligible for .org.au domains
The list has changed and been updated with several new bodies e.g. Indigenous groups. You must be a not for profit organisation to hold a .org.au domain.
This definition now contains 11 categories of eligible organisations:
- an Incorporated Association under State or Territory legislation;
- a Company limited by guarantee under the Corporations Act 2001(Cth)
- a Non-distributing co-operative registered under State or Territory legislation;
- an Indigenous Corporation registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006(Cth) and which appears on the Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations;
- a Registered Organisation that is:
(a) an association of employers;
(b) an association of employees (union); or
(c) an enterprise association;
- registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009(Cth) and which appears on the Register of Organisations;
- a Charitable trust endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient;
- a Non-trading cooperative under State or Territory legislation;
- a Public or Private Ancillary Fund endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient;
- an unincorporated association that appears on the Register of Charities established under the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission Act 2012(Cth);
- a Political Party registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918(Cth) or State or Territory Electoral Act and which appears on the Register of Political Parties or as otherwise named; or
Government, being either the Crown or a Commonwealth, State or Territory statutory agency.
Change to how you can define your .org.au domain name
Under the new licensing rules, a org.au name must be:
- (a) a match or synonym of the name of:
i. a service that the Person provides;
ii. a program that the Person administers;
iii. an event that the Person registers or sponsors;
iv. an activity that the Person facilitates, teaches or trains;
v. premises which the Person operates;
vi. an occupation that its members practise;
- b) and which that Person is providing at the time of the application; or
- c) a match of the Person’s legal name, business or statutory name or the name of the unincorporated association; or
- d) a acronym of the Person’s legal name, business name, or statutory name; or
- e) a match of the Person’s Australian Trade Mark; or
- f) a match to the name of a trust of which the Person is a trustee.
This rule replaces the ‘close and substantial connection’ rule.
Other domain name changes
Do the rules impact domains like .com, .net, .biz?
These changes from auDA only impact domains with the extension .au
So if you hold a domain name that is for .com, .net, .org, .biz etc – these are not impacted by these rules.
The domain extensions for the domains mentioned above have a different body that oversees their usage and rules.
Who is my domain registrar?
This process can be tricky as your domain name may have been registered through a third-party.
For example, we register domain names through a verified domain reseller so for clients, they won’t see ‘LYF Solutions’ in the whois information. Yet, they would contact us for this query.
You can check who your domain is registered from using whois.com (top right search bar). If it’s not through a third-party or you cannot source the original provider, then attempt to contact this company.
Look for the company name under ‘Registrar’ at the top section. Or you may find a clue to the provider in the technical contact details listed further down below the result.
Note, some companies trade under a different name. In this scenario, it would help to do a Google search of that name to find what the business name may be called.
If you get stuck or prefer to transfer your domain to us (support a greener web), then please get in contact with our friendly team.
What if I am not impacted, is there anything I need to do?
If you have not been impacted by the key changes, then you can continue to hold your domain name as is.
auDA will regularly review how the Australian domain name space goes and may add new rules or updates to how the license works.
Your domain registrar may let you know of these changes.