n Australia the responsibility for managing all domains ending with the country code “.au” e.g. .com.au, .org.au, .net.au, etc. lies with an organisation called Domain Administration Limited (auDA). It is a not-for-profit organisation that works with industry and government plus a range of other stakeholders to develop and administer the rules for these domains.
On the 12th of April 2021, the auDA is implementing a new set of rules which may have an impact on the domains you currently hold. If your domains expire on or after this date and you or your organisation do not qualify, you will not be able to renew that domain name and all services attached to it, for example your website, email, etc. will fail.
Under the new rules, renting or leasing of domain names to a third party is prohibited. This also applies to sub-domains. A sub domain is a part of a domain name you place in front of your domain name. So, in the case of the domain austlink.net, a sub domain would be help.austlink.net or support.austlink.net. I believe that there is an exception for related corporate entities.
It has always been possible to remove a domain from an organisation who has been using it for illegal activity. The new rules now extend that to sub domains as well. So, if illegal activity is taking place at help.yourdomain.com.au (sub-domain) for example, then the auDA has the power to remove yourdomain.com.au (domain) from you. This was not the case in the past.
The new rules specify that you must have “contractual capacity” to hold a license. If you lose the capacity to hold a license your domains will be considered cancelled 30 days from the loss of that contractual capacity. So, if your company is de-registered all domains previously owned by that company will be lost.
For any .au domain names you need to be a commercial entity to register a domain name. In the past you could get around the issue if you had a trademark. This is still the case, but the domain name must now be an exact match for the trademark. So, if your trademark is “A Glass of Wine Fund”, the domains you could have would be: aglassofwinefund.com.au or glassofwinefund.com.au or glasswinefund.com.au plus the .net.au variants. You could not register glassfund.com.au or winefund.com.au.
To be eligible to register an org.au domain name you must be a not-for-profit organisation. The definition of a not-for-profit organisation has been updated. This definition now contains 11 categories of eligible organisations which are listed on the following page.
Under the new rules unincorporated associations are not eligible to hold org.au names. The only exception is where an unincorporated association appears on the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission’s (ACNC) Register of Charities.
You need to check all your .au domains names as soon as possible. Log into your domain registrar e.g. domains.austlink.net and make sure that the organisation associated with your domain name is still valid and eligible to hold that name. If you find for example that the company who owns your domain is an old one that has been deregistered, then you will have to transfer that domain to your new company. To do this you will need to use the following form.
I hope the above helps. The aim of the new rules is to bring clarity and transparency to the system running the .au domain space. If you want to dive in deep you can read the full set of rules at https://www.auda.org.au/au-domain-names/new-au-licensing-rules. If you have any questions or need help with the transfer of your domains, please call us on 1300 766 812.