The new .au licensing rules contain changes that help ensure you can tell who is behind a .au domain name.
The .au top level domain is a symbol of trust to many people in Australia. A big part of that trust is being able to tell who is behind a given domain name.
Under the new .au licensing rules, which come into effect on 12 April 2021, there are some changes and clarifications relating to third party use of .au domain names.
These changes are being introduced to help ensure the .au domain maintains the high levels of trust it has earned among the Australian community.
You can’t lease or sub-license a .au domain to someone else
Under the new licensing rules you can’t lease (or sub-license) a .au domain name licence you hold to someone else. This also applies to sub-domains which we’ve looked at here.
Leasing could allow people to bypass the eligibility and allocation rules for each .au name space, including the requirements for people who use .au to have a connection to Australia. It also has the potential to undermine trust in .au by obscuring who is operating a .au domain name.
Unlike other TLDs, you can see who the registrant of .au domain name is via a WHOIS lookup (link).
If you are offered the opportunity to lease a .au domain name from someone, be aware that it is not allowed under the licensing rules and carries significant risk. Leasing a .au domain from another person means you have no control over whether that person, who is considered the registrant of the name, transfers the name, forgets to renew it or has it cancelled.
The exception: related bodies corporate and com.au and net.au names
There is an exception to the restriction on sub-leasing and sub-licensing. In the com.au and net.au namespaces, a company can hold a name on behalf of another related company – such as a subsidiary or holding company – provided that related company also meets the Australian presence requirement.
However, this does not apply to registrars, who cannot apply for or hold a .au domain name on behalf of a related body corporate as it may cause a conflict of interest.
Getting someone else to register or renew a .au domain name for you
It’s common for individuals and companies to outsource the management of their website, including managing the registration and renewal of their domain names.
This is allowed in the .au domain. However, if someone like a web developer is registering or renewing your .au domain names on your behalf, you or your organisation must be listed as the registrant of the domain name, not the developer. This helps ensure you retain control of your .au domain name and that it is registered to an entity which is eligible to hold it.
To check the registrant details of your .au domain you can search for it via the .au WHOIS tool. The registrant of the name is the person or organisation listed in the ‘Registrant’ field. The Registrant ID field which will contain your organisation’s ABN or other identifier.
If your name has been incorrectly registered to your web developer you can request a correction.
To find out more about the changes, you can visit our dedicated website section and here on the .au blog.