Australian Domain Registration

by Tom McEwin on 8 January, 2011

Recently I registered my first couple of Australian domain names, for a new business I have started up.  A big step and the sort of thing I didn’t want to mess up.  Here is my research outlining which Australian domain registrar I went with and why, along with an outline of some of the .au domain eligibility requirements.

The Australian Domain Registration LandscapeAustralian Domain Registration

Australian domain registration is governed by 2 official bodies:

  1. AusRegistry – the current official Australian domain wholesaler which operates the public register for .au domains; and
  2. auDA – the Australian domain name administrator which sets official .au domain policy.

To actually register a domain, it is necessary to go to a domain retailer, and there are plenty to choose from.  A number of the  Australian domain registrars are certified by auDA but they can be significantly more expensive than those which are not auDA certified, so it pays to shop around.

Is auDA Certification Important?

According to auDA, there are 2 reasons for a registrar to become accredited:

  • Registrars have direct access to the registry database operated by AusRegistry; and
  • Registrars can purchase .au domains at the “wholesale” price offered by AusRegistry.

The auDA registrar accreditation criteria specify a number of mandatory requirements.  Registrars will be prevented from being certified by auDA unless (per clauses 3.4 – 3.8):

  • they are registered to trade in Australia;
  • they are registered with the Australian Taxation Office;
  • they have opted into the Privacy Act;
  • they hold sufficient insurance coverage; and
  • they have an existing agreement with the registry operator (presumably AusRegistry).

Some of these mandatory requirements won’t actually mean a whole lot for retail buyers of domain names.  And while there are a number of optional requirements, there is no guarantee that a certified registrar needs to live up to these requirements (being optional and all).  However, it is worth noting that all auDA accredited registrars and their resellers must comply with the .au Domain Name Supplier’s Code of Practice.  If there is a complaint that a registrar has breached the code then auDA can investigate.

While this code applies both to auDA accredited registrars and their resellers, my feeling is that those with auDA accreditation are more likely to a) comply with the Code of Practice, and b) respond to Code of Practice related issues.  Hence all things being equal, I’d prefer to go with an auDA certified Australian domain registrar.

But for all things to be equal I needed to consider what price and service each registrar was offering.

Price Comparison for Australian Domain Registration

auDA Certified Registrars

After looking through the list of auDA certified registrars, the cheapest registrars for .com.au and .net.au domains, in mid December 2010, appeared to be:

  • AussieHQ and VentraIP who were offering .com.au and .net.au domains for $20 for 2 years;
  • ZipHosing (formerly Hostess) who was offering .com.au and .net.au domains for for $10.50 per year (2 year registration required);
  • IntaServe who was offering .com.au and .net.au domains for $14 per year (2 year registration required);
  • NetRegistry who was offering .com.au and .net.au domains for $15 per year (2 year registration required, sale prices); and
  • CheaperDomains and MD Web Hosting who were offering .com.au and .net.au domains for $35 for 2 years.

non auDA Certified Registrars

The cheapest Australian domain registration prices I could find for non auDA certified registrars was:

  • crazydomains.com.au who were offering .com.au domains for $12 and .net.au for $8 (usually $12) per year; and
  • cheapdomains.com.au who were offering .com.au domains for $9 and .net.au for $19 per year.

Choosing My Australian Domain Registrar

Here is the way I whittled down the above lists to choose the registrar I wanted to go with for my Australian domain names:

  1. The cheaper auDA accredited registrars had similar prices to the non-auDA accredited registrars, so I opted to go with one which is auDA accredited;
  2. AussieHQ; VentraIP and ZipHosing offered the best current prices, although IntaServe proclaimed itself to be the best value registrar during 2005-2010;
  3. Then it came down to a matter of service.

After spending a while checking out the websites of these registrars and some relevant online forums (whirlpool.net.au and webhostingtalk.com.au) I found that:

  • There was a fair number of negative forum comments regarding IntaServe on Whirlpool.net.au, in particular with domain reregistration and billing issues – so I ruled it out;
  • VentraIP only earned its auDA certification a few months ago, and seemed to be somewhat lacking on the support side of things;
  • both AussieHQ and ZipHosting (formerly Hostess) offer 24/7 support but while AussieHQ offer phone support, ZipHosting doesn’t; and
  • AussieHQ also provide for domain name reselling, which is relevant to the business I started.

So I decided to go with AussieHQ as my Australian domain name registrar.  Once I made sure I had the .au requirements covered (see below),  the registration was processed in a matter of minutes.  I wasn’t sure that this would be the case – for example, I understand that with .org.au domains there may be a separate approval stage with manual processing required, which can take a little while.

.au Registration Requirements

Not just anyone can register any .au domain name.  There are a number of eligibility requriements that must be met first.  These are set out in the schedules of the official auDA policy.  For example, to be eligible for .com.au and .net.au domains the applicant applying must (per Schedules C and E):

  1. either be:
    • a registered company, business, sole trader, partnership, incorporated association or commercial statutory body; or
    • an individual holding or applying for a trademark; and
  2. the domain name sought must be:
    • an exact match, abbreviation or acronym of the registrant’s name or trademark; or
    • otherwise closely and substantially connected to the registrant.

These weren’t so much a concern for me as my company’s name exactly matched the .com.au and .net.au domains that I acquired.  But where this is not the case, it may be necessary to take a closer look at when a domain name will be ‘closely and substantially connected to the registrant’ – see clause 10.5 of the relevant auDA policy if you want more information.

That’s all from me for now.

© Tom McEwin
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Jan Littlehales January 8, 2011 at 5:38 PM

I’ve had an Australian Domain Registration for several years – but I can’t remember auDA Certification being mentioned, so not sure if I have that or not. I can’t remember having to meet all the criteria you mention, so probably not. Prices have certainly become more competitive, which is a good thing.
As always, a well written informative post. Thanks.
Jan Littlehales´s last blog post ..Mince Pie Recipe – in Ten Minutes

RSA Brisbane February 6, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Hi Tom,

Thanks so much for your article. I am just going through building an Australian based site and i have found it extremely helpful. I have one question… Do you have any advice for any specific Australian based directories or places to list an australian domain instead of international directories?
RSA Brisbane´s last blog post ..RSA Sydney

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