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Changes to the .org.au namespace after April 2021
Updated Friday February 5th 2021 / Category .au Domain Names

As of the 12th of April 2021 auDA will be commencing a series of new rules surrounding the .au namespace, .org.au domains encounter some of the most significant of these changes being rolled out. 

These changes can be broken down into two major categories. 

Changes to the eligibility rules for .org.au domain names

Changes to the allocation rules for .org.au domain names

First we’ll cover the changes to eligibility rules, these are being significantly revised in an effort to ensure the .org.au namespace integrity as an identifier for the not for profit sector is maintained. As a result the definition of a not-for-profiit entity no longer includes unincorporated associations which are not registered with Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC).

To be eligible for an org.au name under the new licensing rules you must be a not-for-profit entity, which is defined as:

  • an Incorporated Association under State or Territory legislation;
  • a Company limited by guarantee under the Corporations Act 2001(Cth)
  • a Non-distributing co-operative registered under State or Territory legislation;
  • an Indigenous Corporation registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006(Cth) and which appears on the Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations;
  • a Registered Organisation that is:

(a) an association of employers;

(b) an association of employees (union); or

(c) an enterprise association;

  • registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009(Cth) and which appears on the Register of Organisations;
  • a Charitable trust endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient;
  • a Non-trading cooperative under State or Territory legislation;
  • a Public or Private Ancillary Fund endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office as a Deductible Gift Recipient;
  • an unincorporated association that appears on the Register of Charities established under the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission Act 2012(Cth);
  • a Political Party registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918(Cth) or State or Territory Electoral Act and which appears on the Register of Political Parties or as otherwise named; or
  • Government, being either the Crown or a Commonwealth, State or Territory statutory agency.

Existing registrations:

If you currently have a .org.au domain registered that does not meet any of the above requirements, the most common being unincorporated associations that are not on the Register of Charities established under the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission Act 2012(Cth). Then you will unfortunately not be able to renew the domain name once the new rules commence. Registering your organisation with the ACNC or performing a CoR (change of registrant) to a suitable eligibility where possible before these new rules commence is ideal. Waiting for the 2nd level .au domain, or switching to a .asn.au domain would be the best way forward if the entity cannot be changed to another legal structure for the organisation that complies. 

Current licensing will be honoured up to the maximum five year registration period possible on .au domains. Domains can still be transferred and renewed prior to the rules commencing.

Allocation changes:

Secondly we have the changes commencing for .org.au allocation rules. These determine what domain you can register and how it must relate to you as the registrant. 

Under the new licensing rules, a org.au name must be:

 (a) a match or synonym of the name of:

  • a service that the Person provides;
  • a program that the Person administers;

iii. an event that the Person registers or sponsors;

  • an activity that the Person facilitates, teaches or trains;
  • premises which the Person operates;
  • an occupation that its members practise;
  • b) and which that Person is providing at the time of the application; or
  • c) a match of the Person’s legal name, business or statutory name or the name of the unincorporated association; or
  • d) a acronym of the Person’s legal name, business name, or statutory name; or
  • e) a match of the Person’s Australian Trade Mark; or
  • f) a match to the name of a trust of which the Person is a trustee.

This rule replaces the ‘close and substantial connection’ rule in place in the previous set of auDA rules.

This change applies to all not-for-profit entities wishing to register, renew or transfer .org.au domain names.

More information can be found here.

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