Top level domain name xxx.au is likely to be available soon. The .AU Australian Domain Administration Ltd is completing a policy review which has suggested one of the most significant changes in the registration system. Currently, Australia does not enable a domain name registration with simply the company name extension. Businesses register using the so-called “second level domain” .com.au extension and other extensions, such as .org.au are available for other types of entities and personal websites. This is different than Germany or Europe, for example, which both allow direct .de or .eu registration for a domain name.
Other countries have changed over the past few years. France, for example, changed its system many years ago to allow top-level registration in the form of the .fr domain name registration.
The biggest issue on starting the .au top-level domain name will be the initial allocation. How will this be achieved – on a first-come-first-served basis? Or will users of the corresponding .com.au get preference? Or could it be a lottery? What about currently registered trademarks or business names? AUDA has recently issued a policy document outlining options, which can be read here.
The rules for foreign entities with no presence in Australia are also being discussed. Should the .AU domain name be generally available or only open to those who have a trademark registration, for example?
Whatever the final decision on how the registration process is carried out, the opening of the namespace is a significant and long overdue step in modernising the registration system for domain names.