Registering a domain name is similar to registering a business name, and each country has one or more central co-ordinating bodies for the registration of domain names. Different eligibility rules apply in different countries, so please visit the web sites of domain name registries around the world for more information.
Before you apply for a domain name, you should check whether it is available. Domain availability searches for .com.au or .com domains can be done directly at Melbourne IT or Network Solutions. International domain availability enquiries can be done at UWhoIs.
In most cases it will only take a few days for your registration application to be processed. The following prices apply for the more popular domain name registries:
Cheaper domain options in au name space are also available for:
Associations And Non-Profits: The .asn.au domain serves for incorporated bodies, political parties, trade unions, sporting and special interest clubs, and partnerships between disparate organisations. (Registration info)
Government: Federal government bodies are registered below .gov.au. State or local governent are registered in their state's subdomain such as qld.gov.au. (Registration info)
Educational Institutions: Bodies of national significance (such as universities) are registered directly in this domain. State based bodies are registered in a state subdomain like .qld.edu.au. (Registration info)
The registration of a .com domain name has no eligibility criteria. If you want it, there is nothing to stop you (or anybody else) from registering it.
The registration of a .com.au domain name, however, has quite specific rules of eligibility. Unless a domain name is being applied for by a private individual, the registration application must be placed in the name of the business or company that is making the application.
There are rules regarding how close the domain name needs to be to the name of the business registering it. For example the business name "Dave's Bar" will allow you to register davesbar.com.au but not davesbistro.com.au. Use the Name Derivation Tool to check that your business name and intended domain name match.
Registrations by companies, partnerships, sole traders, or registered associations must be accompanied by an ACN, ABN or registered business number. If you do not know what yours is, a search facility is available on the ASIC web site, or the Federal Government's Australian Business Register.
The AUDA Domain Name Eligibility And Allocation Policies also have very strict requirements with regard to registering "common words" and Australian place names as domains. Basically, the following can't be registered as .com.au domain names:
Names of states, regions, locations and anything that has a postcode
Category headings in the Telstra Yellow Pages
Offensive or obscene words
Domain Name Registration
Registering a domain name and then setting it up so that it's capable of containing a web site (hosting) are generally treated as 2 seperate tasks. In reality they are 2 stages in a single process, and you should probably ask the company that will host your domain to register it for you as well.
Domain registration can be a technically daunting process and if you make a mistake you may cause a situation that will make it difficult (=expensive) for the hosting company to do their job.
Our suggestion is to leave it to the experts, but if you do want to register your own domain anyway don't touch/change anything in the application that mentions the words 'delegation', 'nameserver', 'dns record', 'mx record', or 'mail exchange'. And if given the option of 'Registration Without Delegation', take it.
Print out everything and keep copies of every email that results from the registration process - your hosting provider will need all of this information.
Domain Name Renewals
The auDU Consumer Alerts sum up the current problems, as do some of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) Media Releases, so to avoid legal action from the ethically challenged companies that are trying to profit from your lack of experience in these matter, I'll use the ACCC's words.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission today called for domain name licence holders to exercise caution when renewing their domain name licences. The ACCC has supported .au Domain Administration's (auDA) checklist for licensees renewing their domain names.
"Confidence in domain name licence registration and renewal services is critical to the development of e-Commerce", ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today. "As competition develops in this sector, business and individuals need to make sure that they understand how the registration system works and how to choose the offer that best suits their needs.
"A number of companies are now offering domain name renewal services in the com.au domain space, which may lead to confusion among consumers. Suppliers of domain name renewal services are warned not to mislead customers as to their need to renew their domain name licence with a particular supplier, as such conduct may breach Part V of the Trade Practices Act."
The ACCC advises that if you are a domain name licence holder, you should:
be aware you may receive offers or notifications to renew your domain name licence from one or more suppliers, other than your original supplier, wishing to compete for your business, and you have the choice of who you wish to deal with.
carefully check the rates and terms and conditions of the renewal notice and compare this with the current provider of your domain name licence.
not assume that any renewal notice is from your original supplier.
check the credentials of any company who claims an association with a registrar with auDA or the registrar concerned.
not pay the provider of the renewal notice unless you wish to deal with that provider.
be aware that your current supplier may also be providing you with other services such as internet access and email, and that the price of the domain name registration may be bundled with these services. Under these circumstances, you may already be paying for your licence renewal.
The ACCC advises domain name licensees to contact auDA, the self regulatory body that governs the .au domain space and sets policy in respect to domain names, for a list of the registrars for each Australian domain. Visit www.auda.org.au/about/news/ for further information.
The short version? If someone is trying to charge you more than $140 for a 2 year re-registration of a .com.au domain, you should throw the renewal notice in the bin, and contact your hosting provider for assistance.
For details of authorised domain registries, visit the AusRegistry website.
Domain Name Hosting
Once you have your domain name registered, it will need to be converted to a 'place' on the internet that is capable of storing a web site, and delivering it on demand. This is called 'delegation' or 'hosting'.