What is a domain name and why is it important?
A domain name is an address on the internet. It’s an important asset that allows internet users to find your website and/or send you emails. For example, www.auda.org.au or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register a .au domain name, you need to meet the eligibility and allocation requirements at the time of registration, renewal, transfer and continually throughout the licence period. If you don’t, you risk losing your domain name.
Can I lose my .au domain name during the licence period?
Yes. If you fail to meet the eligibility and allocation requirements at any time during the licence period, your licence can be cancelled.
Members of the public can challenge your eligibility to hold a domain name licence at any time.
You must remain eligible for the entire licence period.
Can I lose my .au domain name if I don’t renew my licence in time?
Yes. If your licence expires before it’s renewed, it will become available for registration by other eligible applicants. There is a 30-day grace period following the expiry date. You can renew a licence from 90 days before its expiration date. You must renew your licence within this time.
What happens if I lose my .au domain name licence?
If your domain name licence is cancelled or you fail to renew your licence:
- Your website and associated services such as emails will no longer work
- Your domain name will become available for registration by other eligible registrants.
This means another eligible person, business or organisation could gain the right to use the domain name for their own purposes.
This can negatively impact you by causing reputational damage and disruption to how you communicate with your community. It is also important to note that it is not always possible to recover your original domain name.
How can I register a .au domain name?
Parliamentarians and political candidates can register a domain name in the org.au, com.au, net.au or .au direct namespaces.
auDA understands that a political party often manages registrations on behalf of individual candidates or Parliamentarians. This is permitted under the .au Licensing Rules, which can be referred to for the full eligibility criteria.
People, organisations and businesses with a validated Australian presence can register available domain names in the .au direct namespace (e.g. getyour.au) from its introduction on 24 March 2022.
As a parliamentarian or political candidate, you may choose to register a .au direct domain name yourself or via the political party endorsing you. Learn more about .au direct.
Registered political parties are eligible to register in the org.au namespace. To register an org.au domain name, the political party endorsing you will need to register it on your behalf.
com.au and net.au
Commercial entities are eligible to register in the com.au and net.au namespaces. If you have a personal Australian Business Number (ABN), you may choose to register your domain name directly.
Alternatively, the political party endorsing you may be eligible to arrange the registration on your behalf using the party’s ABN.
The appropriate registration process for you is to determine in consultation with your party. It is important to remember that if the ABN used for your registration is cancelled, expires or no longer relates to the domain name, your eligibility may be affected.
My party registered my domain name, but I have since left politics and/or the party – what now?
When a political party registers a domain name on your behalf, the party is the registrant. That means it legally holds the domain name licence. If you leave politics or cease your affiliation with the party, the registrant will need to contact the registrar to arrange a transfer of the licence to you. You need to meet the eligibility and allocation requirements to ensure you can continue to use the registered domain name.
Who cannot register a .au domain name for me?
Staff members using personal ABNs or external companies such as IT contractors should not register domain names on behalf of parliamentarians or candidates. This can lead to eligibility and allocation issues, and issues at renewal.
What should I do now to ensure continued access to my .au domain name?
1. Make sure you are familiar with the eligibility and allocation rules on our website.
- New .au rules came into effect on 12 April 2021 – all names created, transferred, or renewing on or after 12 April 2021 are subject to the new rules
- The legacy rules apply until the end of the existing licence period
- You can use the Licensing Version tool to check which rules apply to your licence.
- Your registrar can help you understand your requirements under the rules.
2. Review your domain name registration information at whois.auda.org.au.
- Check your contact details are up-to-date to make sure you receive renewal notices from your registrar
- If the domain name you are using was registered for you by someone that is not you or your political party, speak to the relevant registrar to arrange a transfer
- You can find the registrar listed on the WHOIS record.
3. Check your licence expiry date with the password retrieval tool.
- Set a reminder to renew your licence from 90 days prior to its expiry
- Your registrar will notify you prior to expiry. Ensure your contact details are up-to-date so these importance notices are not missed.
4. Contact your registrar for questions relating to your domain name or to update your information.
- See a list of accredited registrars here.
- If your registrar is unable to resolve your matter, you can contact auDA by submitting an enquiry, or contacting us on 1300 732 929 (within Australia) or +61 3 8341 4111 (international).
Case study 1
Incorrect registration of domain name
MP Jane Doe is elected to Parliament. When setting up her website, a staff member purchases the domain name janedoemp.com.au. The staff member uses their personal ABN, which they use for contract work as a sole trader. The business purpose of the ABN is not related to janedoemp.com.au, therefore, the registration does not meet the .au rules.
The staff member’s licence is cancelled and janedoemp.com.au is deleted from the registry.
When the domain name becomes available, Jane Doe’s political party, with Jane’s permission, arranges registration for janedoemp.com.au through an accredited registrar.
Case study 2
Domain name dispute over eligibility
Senator Joe Public finds the domain name senjoepublic.net.au has been registered by Special Interest Group ‘Free Unicorns’ for their own use.
The Senator’s staff raised a complaint with the relevant registrar about the use of senjoepublic.net.au by Free Unicorns as they would like to use the name and do not want it associated with unicorns (free or otherwise).
The registrar finds Free Unicorns is not eligible to hold senjoepublic.net.au as they do not meet any of auDA’s criteria for eligibility. Free Unicorns’ licence to senjoepublic.net.au is cancelled and the name is deleted from the registry.
The domain name becomes available for use after a 14-day period, after which Senator Joe Public’s political party, with Senator Public’s permission, arranges registration for senjoepublic.net.au through an accredited registrar.
Note: Eligible applicants can register the domain name on a first come, first served basis. Some specialised accredited registrars can assist with acquiring domains when they become available.
Category: Fact sheets