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Owners of websites with .COM.AU, .NET.AU domain names only have until 20 September 2022 to secure your equivalent .AU domain — prompting warnings from the Small Business Ombudsman about the risk from cybersquatters or scammers taking their names.

Why are we urging our clients to take urgent action ahead of a major change to .AU domains in coming weeks?

  1. To protect your existing domain and branding from competitors, cybersquatters or scammers.
  2. The .AU version of a domain you have always wanted may soon become available.

Owners of websites with .COM.AU, .NET.AU domain names only have until 20 September 2022 to secure your equivalent address under the new .AU domain — prompting warnings from the Small Business Ombudsman about the risk from cybersquatters or scammers taking their names.

Come 20 September 2022 it will be a free-for-all.  Any member of the public can register the .AU version of your domain (or any domains that haven’t been pre-registered) and use it to impersonate your business.

“The consequences of not registering your existing business name by this deadline could be catastrophic for a business if a rival or someone else took their online name.  Domain names are very much the identity of a business and critical to their success.  Small businesses cannot afford to have their identity sold to someone else.”

Bruce Billson – Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
Reported on

“I implore all small business owners to take a few minutes to work out if they want the shortened .AU domain or will be unhappy for someone else to have it,” he said.

I Want To Protect My Domain – What Do I Need To Do?

In short, you need to pre-register your .AU domain via your existing domain provider (EG: Wynnes, Webcentral, Melbourne IT, VentraIP, GoDaddy, etc).  If we manage your domain for you, we can do this on your behalf.

If you need assistance, please contact us directly or continue reading for more information.

If you already hold the .COM.AU for a domain, you can pre-register for the .AU version of the same domain.  This also applies for .NET.AU domain holders.

If another entity has the alternate version of your domain then they could pre-register too.  Priority registration will be lifted in September.  This will allow anyone to register the .AU domain.

How is pre-registration prioritised?  AuDA has divided Priority applicants in 2 categories, depending on when their Third-Level .AU domain was registered.  The Second-Level .AU domains will be allocated according to the following criteria:

  1. Priority category 1: Third-Level .AU (.COM.AU or .NET.AU) Names with a creation date on or before 4 February 2018 at 23:59:59 (UTC)
  2. Priority category 2: Third-Level .AU (.COM.AU or .NET.AU) Names with a creation date after 4 February 2018 at 23:59:59 (UTC)
  3. Where there are multiple Category 1 applicants, all Category 1 applicants must agree on the allocation.  Domains for which an agreement cannot be reached, will remain reserved indefinitely, until a single applicant remains.
  4. Where there are only Category 2 applicants, the name is allocated to the applicant whose Third-Level .AU domain has the earliest creation date in the .AU registry.

Benefits of an .AU domain

A shorter, more memorable way to bring your Australian business online.

Unlike .COM.AU and .NET.AU domains, .AU direct domain names DO NOT require an ABN or ACN and are available for general use.  Anyone with a local connection to Australia will be eligible to apply for a .AU domain.

Key Benefits:

  • Shorter domain extension (4 less characters).
  • Prevent other parties from purchasing the shortened version of your domain.

If you have any questions or require assistance with pre-registering a .AU domain, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This brings us to our next important question… 

Do you actually own and control your current domains?

The short answer is that you technically lease your domain.   While you currently hold the registration rights to the domain, you are actually leasing the exclusive rights to use the domain via a domain registrar.

To add an additional level of separation, domain registrars are wholesale domain providers and have a network of resellers who sell to the public.

Unfortunately, we still regularly have to assist clients who are dealing with their existing domain service providers (resellers and other third-parties) holding their domains ransom.  Some domain service providers even have it written into contracts that they own the domain (a domain that they registered on behalf of the client) and are just leasing it to the client.  This essentially locks that client in with that domain service provider indefinitely.

Just because a domain is registered in your name does not mean you have full control over the domain.  This includes being able to transfer the domain to a new provider and being able to update your Domain Records for your websites, servers, apps and emails.  Often the name that the domain is registered to might be yours, but the domain admin/contacts may be set to your domain provider.  This can lead to delays or even intentional obstruction or refusal, from the domain service provider, during domain transfers.

In addition, you may not have any backend access to the domain in order to update domain records, account details, or access the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP) code/password that is required to transfer the domain to a new provider.

While a domain tends to be the cheapest aspect of running your website/domain, it is arguably the most important!

For example:

  • If your website goes down, you can always restore a backup or move the website files to a new server.
  • If your email server goes down, you will likely have a cloud backup or local copy of your emails saved to your computer.
  • However, if you lose the ability to control your domain, you lose the ability to control any service connected to the domain.  Your website, emails, and apps can be shut down at the press of a button.

How do you ensure that you own and control your domain?

  1. Can you log into your domain registration account?

a. Yes – Check that you can locate the EPP code/password for the domain.  Also check that your contact details and email address are correctly assigned to the domain Contacts (Registrant, Admin and Billing) – if you tick all these boxes, you’re good to go.
If not, refer to option b.

b. No – Contact your domain registrar and ask if they provide access to administer the domain.  If they do not allow admin access to your domain, you should consider moving to another provider ASAP.  Contact us ASAP for assistance and we will set you up with our trusted service provider that provides full access to administer your domain.

c. I don’t know who my domain registrar is – Check who you pay your domain renewal bills to.
Alternatively, you can type your domain into the search field here:  In the “Whois Record” section, locate: “Registrar Name” and “Registrar URL”.  Please be aware that often the wholesale domain registrar may appear, and you do not recognise them as a company that you pay your domain renewal bill to.  You can contact them and they should be able to tell you who the reseller is for your domain.

Still unsure? Contact us ASAP for assistance

If you have any questions or require assistance with your domain ownership, please do not hesitate to contact us.