The Australian second level Domain Name System
Update: I have received an awful lot of abuse about this particular page. So, on 11 February 2007, I completely overhauled this particular page based on the more polite suggestions I received. I'd like to mention that I would gratefully receive any corrections, feedback or comments about this page - here is the feedback page.
STOP PRESS - directly under .au!
On 20 August 2015, the 2015 Names Policy Panel of auDA (the administrator of the .au domain space), released its draft recommendations, and has proposed that Australians should be able directly under .au (e.g. google.au), bypassing Second Level Domains altogether- although they would remain in place. [Source: auDA Press Release].
Finally, from 24 March 2022, this went live - registering directly under .au - which is being referred to as an ".au direct name" is now available! [Source: auDA - about .au direct domain names].
So what is a Second Level Domain?
A Second Level Domain, commonly abbreviated to a "2LD" or "SLD"; is the information in a Domain Name to the left of the Top Level Domain extension. Much like in most postal addresses, the State is within the Country. (reference).
This is a really clunky definition, so I'll give you some examples. Take a look at the domain name this page is on - it's bladesplace.id.au. In that domain name, the 'id' bit is the 2LD.
Another Example is google.com.au. In that, the "com" bit is the 2LD (the 'au' bit is the ccTLD - which stands for the Country Code Top Level Domain. Phew!)
Australia isn't the only ccTLD that requires the use of 2LDs. New Zealand (.nz) uses them too, as does Britain (.uk) and Taiwan (.tw), to name but few.
In other countries, such as Germany (.de) and France (.fr), and now Japan (.jp) can register a domain name directly under the ccTLD. For example, google.de.
For countries that do use 2LDs, there isn't actually a uniform standard between them, although there might be similarities.
The purpose of this page is to explain the 2LDs that are, or have been, used within the Australian domain name system. The Australian 2LD system is rather complicated and has quite a few obsolete 2LDs.
The Australian domain system is regulated by auDA.
Current 2LDs in Use
com.au is the most common of the Australian 2LDs.
It is for for commercial entities, such as companies (with ACN as registered through ASIC), and businesses (registered with state governments).
Similar to com.au, net.au is also for commercial entities, such as companies (with ACN as registered through ASIC), and businesses (registered with state governments).
net.au is becoming more and more popular as .com.au domain names are snatched up. net.au is also popular with non-profit organizations that have ABN's, such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
org.au is for charities and non-commercial organizations.
Registrants must either be a charity operating in Australia, as defined in the registrant's constitution or other documents of incorporation; or a non-profit organization operating in Australia, as defined in the registrant's constitution or other documents of incorporation.
.org.au domain names must exactly match the name of the registrant's charity or non-profit organization or be an acronym or abbreviation of it; or somehow be closely and substantially related to the Registrant.
The id.au 2LD is for individuals who are Australian citizens or residents. It was designed for individual persons, because they are not supposed to be able to register a com.au or net.au domain name.
In theory, .id.au domain names must either exactly match the registrant's personal name; or be an acronym or abbreviation of the registrant's personal name.
.id.au domain names are still relatively uncommon.
The .asn.au 2LD is for associations, such as trade unions and sporting groups.
Registrants either be an association incorporated in any Australian State or Territory; or a political party registered with the Australian Electoral Commission; or a trade union or other organization registered under the Workplace Relations Act 1996; or a sporting or special interest club operating in Australia.
.asn.au domain names must closely match the name exactly match the name of the registrant’s association, political party, trade union or other industry body, or club; or be an acronym or abbreviation of it, or somehow be closely and substantially related to the Registrant.
.asn.au domain names are becoming less used as more and more registrants are opting for .org.au domain names instead.
The edu.au 2LD is for educational institutions registered at federal or state level.
Primary, Secondary and TAFE domain names will have a state code OR education department abbreviation before the .edu.au part (examples: primaryschool.qld.edu.au/primaryschool.eq.edu.au; tafename.nsw.gov.au). All other educational institutions will have a domain name directly under .edu.au (examples: college.edu.au; university.edu.au).
This domain is managed on behalf of the Australian education sector by the Australian Information and Communications Technology in Education Committee (AICTEC).
The .gov.au 2LD is for federal, state and local government bodies. State and local government domain names will have a state abbreviation before the .gov.au part (example: localgovernment.qld.gov.au). Commonwealth level government bodies, and other non-state and non-local government bodies will have a domain name directly under .gov.au (example: government.gov.au).
This domain is managed on behalf of the Australian government sector by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
The .csiro.au 2LD is for the sole use of the Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organization (CSIRO).
This domain is managed by CSIRO who set their own policies.
The .conf.au domain name was originally created for conferences and exhibitions requiring short duration Internet connectivity, however it is currently closed and not accepting any new registrations.
conf.au domain names are extremely rare.
The .info.au 2LD was created for major Australian informational and service resources. However like conf.au, it is currently closed and not accepting any new registrations.
.info.au domain names are very rare, but not as rare as .conf.au ones.
.telememo.au / otc.au
Telememo and OTC were early electronic messaging systems, also called X.400 mail systems, and were used primarily by academic researchers and government entities. Telememo was operated by Telecom Australia (now known as Telstra) and OTC was its predecessor.
The telememo.au 2LD and the otc.au 2LD were for used to support gateways between the Telememo and OTC services and normal E-Mail. Domain names in this 2LD corresponded to the registered names in the X.400 system.
They can still be seen around on newsgroup archives, but they've generally disappeared.
The gw.au 2LD was used to name the internal routers and other networking equipment that the Australian Academic and Research networks had in place.
Again, they can still be seen around on newsgroup archives, but they've generally disappeared.
.oz.au / .oz
The oz.au 2LD was Australia's first 2LD and .oz was Australia's first domain name system. It was originally devised to register names of the entities that were operating on the ACSnet (Australian Computer Science network), and continues to be used for entities that are visible within the ACSnet network domain. Registration of a name within this domain is only undertaken once the name is visible on the ACSnet network.
oz.au domain names are reasonably rare but still exist. They are shrinking as less sites are connected to ACSnet.
Any corrections, feedback or additions to this information would be gratefully appreciated.