The .au domain change that may be coming to Australia

by Kyle Vermeulen
March 5, 2018

Whether you like it or not, changes may be coming to Australian website domains.

auDA, the official Australian industry body industry, has proposed releasing new .au top-level domains, meaning instead of, we could use

At first glance, it sounds great. Why type when you can just type .au — a full 60% less effort? Faster and simpler is good. Even if dropping that pesky .com bit only saves you a second, it adds up over time when you consider every Australian.

New Zealand and the UK have made similar moves. In 2014, New Zealand released .nz domains to holders of similar website domains over six months before releasing .nz domains to all.

The Concerns

But there’s some concern that the proposed changes could be a headache for small businesses. Opponents of the proposal have two main concerns:

The Costs

The new .au domains wouldn’t automatically be granted to domain holders. Just like purchasing a domain, businesses will need to buy (and renew) the domain.

It’s likely most businesses will purchase the .au domain as a defensive measure to protect their brand and search terms.

Josh Rowe, a former auDA board member and startup founder, has called the proposed changes a “$300M tax on businesses”.

Contested Domains

The greater worry for businesses will be if there are multiple brands who want the underlying .au domain.

Take, for example,

CARE Australia, the humanitarian aid organisation uses, while is a company that helps care seekers and care providers connect.

In this case, where both organisations wanted the domain, it would be classified as a “contested domain” and face a potentially expensive or time-consuming process to see which brand would ultimately end up with the domain.

Our recommendation? Buy your new .au domain

If .au domains are released (as it appears they will be) we do recommend businesses and brands purchase their associated domain. It remains to be seen if the .au domain becomes the default in Australia — but if it does, you’ll want to own it.

If you’re one of the unlucky parties with a contested domain, you’ll have to wait for the auDA to release the terms of the process.

The timeline for the new domains has not been announced, but we’ll keep our email subscribers up to date.

Additional sources:_

auDA discussion paper (.pdf)
Smart Company: “A load of bollocks” SMEs demand answers from auDA over introduction of new “.au” domain names