FAQ: Second Level .au Domains
Second level domain names will soon be available as an option for Australian domain name registrants.
Second level domains are expected to launch in 2020.
This FAQ will be updated based on feedback and changes to policy.
About second level domain names
- What is second level domain name registration?
- When will second level .au domain names be available?
- What are the rules for .au domain name licences?
- Who can register a second level .au licence?
- What names can I register at the second level?
- How do I register a second level .au domain name?
- How are second level names different from the .au names I’m used to?
- How much will second level licences cost?
- What will happen to existing com.au , net.au, org.au etc. domain names?
- I already have a .au domain name – can I register the same one at the second level?
- Do I have to register a second level name if I already have a name in com.au (or other .au namespace)?
The Priority Allocation Process
- What is the Priority Allocation Process?
- How does the Priority Allocation Process work?
- How can I check which category my domain name is in?
- How do I apply for priority status?
- Do I have to apply via my registrar of record?
- What will I need to provide with my application?
- If I’m successful, when do I get to register my .au name?
- When can I apply for priority status?
- How are applications for priority status assessed?
- What if there are multiple applicants for the same name? The contested names process.
- Contested names: Negotiation
- I’m the registrant of all the variants – do I still need to apply?
- I don’t want a second level version of my existing .au domain name, do I need to do anything?
- What happens to eligible names which no one applies for?
- I had a .au domain name which expired, do I qualify for priority status?
- I have a .com name, can I apply for priority status for the matching second level .au name?
- Do I have to use my second level name once I register one?
- I have category 2 priority, should I apply for a name which also has potential category 1 applicants?
- Complaints about eligibility for priority status
- Complaints about domain name eligibility
- Complaints about your registrar
Second level domain names registrations are domain names directly before the dot in .au such as forexample.au or auDA.au.
Second level domain name registration has also been referred to as ‘direct registration’.
Registrations for new second level domains – names that don’t currently exist anywhere in the .au domain – will open in 2020. The exact date will be announced shortly.
The policies which cover second level domain names are:
Anyone who has an Australian presence, as defined by the .au licensing rules, can register a second level .au licence.
An Australian presence includes being an Australian citizen or permanent resident, company or association in or of Australia.
The full definition of an Australian presence can be found in the .au Licensing rules.
There are no allocation rules for second level names.
You can register names that:
a) are available to be registered,
b) meet the syntax requirements, and
c) do not appear on the list of reserved names.
You’ll be able to register second level .au domain names through auDA-accredited .au domain name registrars - the same as you do for other .au domain names.
Apart from being shorter, there is no difference in how second level domains function.
The major difference is that anyone who satisfies the Australian presence requirement can register a second level .au domain, unlike .com.au and .net.au namespaces which require you to have an active ABN/ACN.
The cost of registering second level .au licences will vary between registrars. auDA only sets the wholesale price for .au licences and the wholesale cost to registrars for a second level name will be the same as the com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, and id.au licences.
We encourage you to shop around to find the registrar who best suits your needs.
Existing third level domain names (com.au, net.au, id.au, org.au, asn.au, edu.au and gov.au etc.) will not be affected by the introduction of second level names. They will continue to exist and you’ll still be able to use, register and renew them as you do now. They are not being replaced or phased out with the implementation of second level names.
If you already have a com.au, net.au, org.au, id.au, asn.au, gov.au or edu.au domain name, you can apply for priority status to register its exact match at the second level.
Eg. If you hold the licence for forexample.com.au you’ll be able apply to register forexample.au but not for-example.au or forexample1.au
If you want to register a name you already hold at the second level, you’ll be given a chance to register it via the priority allocation process (see below).
Do I have to register a second level name if I already have a name in com.au (or other .au namespace)?
No. There's no obligation to register a second level name if you already hold a name in the .au domain. Your existing names will continue to operate as they do now and won't be affected by the introduction of second level names.
The priority allocation process enables holders of .au licences in the registry immediately before launch the chance apply for priority status to register the exact match of that name at the second level.
The priority process has been developed as a way to:
- give existing registrants of eligible .au licences a chance to register the exact match of their domain name at the second level if they wish to,
- determine who gets to register the second level name where there are multiple applications
When second level domains launch, all names in the registry will be reserved from registration at the second level.
Registrants will then have six months to apply for priority status to register the second level match of their name (these exact matches are the names that are reserved). Each application is categorised (either category 1 or category 2) by the creation date of the name on which the application is based.
In the majority of cases the priority applicant will be allocated the second level name soon after they apply for it.
In the small number of instances where there is more than one eligible registrant, the second level name will be allocated either upon agreement between applicants, or based on creation date. This is known as a contested name (see below for more information). The process for dealing with contested names is determined by the categories of the submitted applications.
Where there are no applications for a name during the priority application period, that name will be available to the public on a first come, first served basis at the close of the priority application period.
Priority category is determined by domain name's creation date. You can check your .au domain's creation date by performing a password retrieval.
Priority category 1: Names created on or before 4 February 2018
Priority category 2: Names created after 4 February 2018
Note: The 4 February 2018 date determining priority category may change ahead of the launch of second level names and is currently subject to public consultation.
The Priority Status Tool, currently under development, will also tell you:
- which priority category a domain is in
- if there are other instances of a name in other namespaces
- the registrant of all the instances of a particular name
You’ll be able to apply for priority status online via accredited .au registrars.
No. You’ll be able to lodge a priority application via any accredited registrar offering second level .au domains.
To apply for priority status through a registrar other than the one your domain name is registered with, you’ll need to provide a code - known as a priority token - for the application to be lodged. This code is different to your domain password.
A tool to retrieve your priority token will be made available when second level domains launch, and will send the priority token to the contact email address listed in the registry data for your domain name.
Your application will include:
- Your name
- The details of the eligible licences and domain names
- The priority token for each eligible licence (if applying via different registrar)
- Evidence you meet the eligibility criteria for the .au namespace:
- An Australian nexus
- The fee charged by the registrar
Once you’ve applied:
- You won’t be able to change or update the registrant information for the eligible licence in the registry
- You can’t transfer the licence to another person during the priority application period
- You will be able to renew a domain name licence during the application period if you need to
It’s important to ensure that you are eligible for the .au domain name licence you hold and the contact details are up to date when you apply for priority status.
If you’re found to be ineligible to hold the .au domain name you’re applying for you will lose your priority status and your domain name may be deleted in line with .au policy.
You’ll be able to register name as soon as any conflicts, if they exist, have been resolved.
In most cases there will be no conflicts and so the name will be allocated to the applicant shortly after the application is lodged.
The date for the priority application period is not yet decided.
auDA and .au registrars will be publicising the launch date well in advance of launch day. So ensure emails from your registrars are not going to spam.
Alternatively, you can sign up to hear about it from auDA.
Applications for priority status are assessed on:
- Your eligibility to hold the eligible licence which forms the basis of your application
- Your eligibility to register a name in .au namespace
- Your ability to supply the domain name password
As with .au domain names, the fee to lodge a priority application will vary between registrar. The wholesale fee of the application has been set as the same as wholesale fee for a .au domain name.
In a small number of cases, there will be more than one registrant eligible for a name reserved at the second level.
Tina is the registrant of getyour.com.au
Louise is the registrant of getyour.net.au
If both names are in the registry at launch, Tina and Louise would both be eligible to apply for priority status to register getyour.au
Where there are multiple applications for the same name:
- Category 1 applicants are given priority over category 2 applicants
- Where there are multiple category 1 applications, the name is allocated at the agreement of all category 1 applicants (via private negotiation).
- Where there are only priority category 2 applicants, the name is allocated to the applicant with the earliest creation date.
Where there are multiple category 1 applicants, those parties will need to negotiate who should be allocated the second level domain name.
Applicants conduct the negotiation themselves and can contact each other using the contact information associated with the domain name in the WHOIS database.
Where an agreement is reached:
- Unsuccessful applicants withdraw their applications
- Name is allocated
Where no agreement is reached:
- The second level name is locked
- Applicants will need to renew their application on a yearly basis
- Name remains locked until there is one active application
If you want to register the second level equivalent of your domain name, you must apply even if you hold all the licences for all the .au instances of that domain name.
e.g. You are the registrant of forexample.com.au and forexample.net.au and no one else holds a licence for ‘forexample’ in any other .au namespace.
You will only need to submit one application, and you will be given access to the exact match of your name at the second level once the ‘conflict’ is resolved.
If no applications are received for an eligible name, the second level match will become publicly available on a first come first served basis on 1 April 2020.
If you wish to register your name before the end of the application period
You will be able to submit a ‘declined to apply’ response for each the other licences you hold.
No. There is absolutely no obligation to take up the second level version of your existing domain name. Your existing name is unaffected by whether you take up the offer of its exact match at the second level.
If no applications are received for an eligible name, the second level match will become publicly available on a first come first served basis on after the end of the priority application period.
Where there are no applications for a reserved second level name, that name will become publicly available on a first come, first served basis after the end of the priority application period.
No. Only registrants of names in the registry at the commencement date are eligible to apply for priority status. Expired names are not in the registry.
No. Priority status can only be granted to registrants of .com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, id.au, edu.au and gov.au domain names.
And yes, we are disappointed you didn’t go with .au.
There is no obligation to actively use your second level (or any) .au domain name.
You are required to ensure you remain eligible for any .au domain name licence you hold and it’s your responsibility to sure the registrant details are up to date?
I have category 2 priority, should I apply for a name which also has potential category 1 applicants?
This is up to the individual to decide. It is much less likely that a priority category 2 applicant will be allocated a category 1 name.
If you have category 2 priority status your application will not be successful if one or more category 1 applications are submitted for the name during the application period.
While it’s not impossible, for an applicant with category 2 status to be awarded a category 1 name:
- No priority category 1 applicants submit an application or they all decline their chance to apply
- The category 2 applicant has the earliest registration date out of any other category 2 applicant.
If you have category 2 priority and wish to submit an application, auDA suggests monitoring whether any other applications are submitted during the application period before submitting your application.
Complaints about eligibility for priority status
Complaints about eligibility for priority status can be directed to the registrar of record or to auDA.
Complaints about domain name eligibility
Complaints about a registrant’s eligibility for their domain name must be directed to the registrar of record as per the Licensing Rules.
Complaints about your registrar
Complaints about registrars must be first directed to the registrar concerned.