What is a direct .au domain, and how do I get it for my website?


A few months ago, the process for registering a .au domain changed. Previously, only certain domain suffixes were available (.com.au, .net.au, etc.), but now Australians can register domains directly with the “.au” extension. This has caused some confusion among Australian small business owners, so let’s clear things up.

What is a DIRECT .au domain?

A DIRECT .au domain is an Australian domain name that can only be registered by an Australian company or individual. The .au extension is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Australia. These domains are managed by the Australian Domain Name Authority (auDA), and all .au domains must comply with the auDA’s published policies. In order to register a DIRECT .au domain, you must have an Australian presence, and you must meet certain eligibility criteria.

.au direct is a good fit for business owners, start-ups, one-time events, campaigns, and organisations that have an Australian presence and want to build trust with customers by using a local domain name.

What is the Difference Between a Direct and Indirect .au Domain?

To understand what a direct ‘.au’ domain is, it is first important to understand indirect ‘.au’ domains.

Indirect domains are managed by third-party companies, such as GoDaddy or Crazy Domains. These companies then on-sell the domains to customers. The problem with indirect domains is that they are less trustworthy than direct domains. This is because anyone can buy an indirect domain, regardless of whether they are actually an Australian company. 

Direct ‘.au’ domains, on the other hand, can only be bought by Australian companies that have been registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). This makes them much more trustworthy than indirect domains. Not to mention, having a direct ‘.au’ domain can make your company seem more professional and credible. 

For example, “example.com.au” is an INDIRECT .au domain, but “example.au” is a DIRECT .au domain. 

The recent changes mean that Australians can now register domains directly with the “.au” extension instead of having to use one of the other available suffixes (.com.au, .net.au, etc.). 

Guidelines for.au domain names

According to the .au Licensing Rules, anyone or any entity can register a .au direct name so long as they meet the requirements outlined there:

  1. You must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or
  2. a business registered in Australia, to register a domain ending in “.au.” (The.au Licensing Rules’ definitions section provides a more thorough explanation of what constitutes an Australian presence).

You’re free to pick any name you’d like, provided it is available and does not infringe on another entity’s trademark, it fulfils the syntax requirements, and it is not on the list of Reserved Names, as specified in the Licensing Rules.

The.au direct namespace is distinct from namespaces designed for specific purposes, such as com.au and net.au for commercial entities, org.au for non-profit organisations, and edu.au for educational institutions. The.au direct namespace, on the other hand, is a generic namespace that anyone can use.

How will it be possible for me to register direct domain names under the.au extension?

You will be able to register domain names with the.au direct extension through auDA accredited registrars that are participating in the programme.

auDA oversees determining the wholesale cost of all.au domain names. The price of wholesale domain names in the com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, and id.au namespaces will be the same as the price of wholesale.au direct-level domain names.

If your company already has an eligible .au domain name (such as .com.au or .net.au), you have until September 20, 2022, to indicate whether you intend to apply for an exact match of your domain name in .au. This is done directly through the Priority Allocation Process.

In the event that you did not submit an application before the deadline, anyone within Australia (while still meeting the .au licencing rules) will be able to register for a direct .au domain, and if your business has not secured one already, then you may find that someone else has already nabbed up the direct .au version your domain. This is similar to the situation where you have purchased a domain such as www.example.com but you find that www.example.com.au is not available.

Priority Status requests must be submitted to your current domain registrar or another authorised registrar that provides .au domain names directly. The cost to submit an application will vary between different registrars.

Do I need a DIRECT .au domain for my website?

If you already have a website with an INDIRECT .au domain (such as “.com.au”), you might not need to get a DIRECT .au domain as well. Although doing so might prove to be beneficial in order to make your website more recognisable to people in Australia.

If your website’s address is “example.com,” for instance, visitors might not realise that it is explicitly aimed at Australians unless you also include the “.com.au” extension in its URL. If, on the other hand, the URL of your website is “example.au,” then there is no question that your website is Aussie!

You will be able to rank higher in search results for Australian customers and clients if you have a DIRECT .au domain, which is yet another advantage of owning such a domain. If Australia is your primary market, registering a domain with the .au extension should definitely be on your list of priorities at some point.

Adding Your New Domain as a Parked Domain 

Say that you have secured your .au direct domain – Awesome! But now what. We recommend that you park it with your primary domain, so that if someone decides to search example.au, they will be automatically redirected to your main domain example.com.au. The reverse is also true – if you now wish to use the direct .au domain as your primary domain, then simply park your example.com.au domain to example.au.

The process of adding your new domain as a parked domain to an existing one can vary depending on your web hosting company. However, the general steps are as follows:

Step 1 – Log in to your web hosting account.

Step 2 – Go to the “Domains” or “Domain Manager” section.

Step 3 – Under the “Parked Domains” or “Addon Domains” heading, enter the new domain name that you want to add.

Step 4 – Change your nameservers on your direct .au domain to that of your primary domain’s web hosting company. It takes anywhere between an hour and 72 hours for changes to propagate through the internet.

Step 5 – You should now be able to see the new domain listed under the “Parked Domains” section. You should enable and enforce SSL on the newly parked domain

Will pre-existing names in the .au ccTLD be affected by the introduction of direct.au?

As a result of the launch of.au direct domains, there will be no modifications made to domain names in the existing namespaces (such as com.au, net.au, id.au, org.au, asn.au, edu.au, and gov.au, etc.). These will continue to exist, and you will be able to use them, register for them, and renew them in the same manner as before.

The Bottom Line

The .au direct namespace is a new, generic namespace that anyone can use for their website. It is distinct from namespaces designed for specific purposes, such as com.au and net.au. If you’re looking to increase your website’s visibility in the Australian market, registering a DIRECT .au domain is an excellent step to take. In addition to being able to rank higher in search engine results, having a direct.au extension will make it easier for potential customers in Australia to find your website. Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of.au direct names and how to go about adding one to your existing website. Thanks for reading!