In Australia you can register an .au domain name using a variety of phrases or words. However, there are a selection of names that you cant use at all or will have to seek permission for. The au Domain Administration (auDA) governs domain names in Australia as the industry’s main policy authority. The federal government assigns auDA with the responsibility to design and implement policies relating to the registration of domain names.

Reserved List Policy

The auDa has a policy that outlines the names that you cannot use in a domain. If a name on the 2014-06 Reserved List Policy  appears for registration, the administration blocks it from approval. The list contains names that fall under three main categories. These include the following.

1. Words and Phrases Restricted under Legislation

The policy includes a table which lists all the words and phrases it restricts under Schedule A. Examples from this are government services terms such as ‘Medicare’ and ‘Centrelink’, as well as national words like ‘ANZAC’. The list completely restricts certain names, whilst others require special permission for use. For example, the regulator bans the words ‘federal’ and ‘commonwealth’ completely. Whereas financial terms on the list can get approval from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Likewise, ANZAC can be in a domain name with the blessing of the Australian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

2. Names and Abbreviations of States and Territories

auDA blocks the word ‘Australia’ along with names and abbreviations of states and territories from general use. This is due to the national significance that surrounds these words. Application can be made, however, if you want to use a state or territory name/abbreviation. As an applicant you need to gain the written authorisation from the relevant state or territory government as part of your application. Your application must also be made through an auDA accredited registrar, in order to be successful.

3. Names that pose a risk to operational stability and utility

The auDA has the power to put any name on it’s list if they believe it will threaten the operational stability and utility of the .au domain. Currently the auDA do not publish their reasoning when blocking names under this provision. Therefore it is difficult to determine what the measure is for this to occur. An auDA registrar review points to the need for greater transparency in this area to assist individuals seeking to register a domain name.

If you attempt to register a word or phrase that falls under any of the above categories, auDA will delete your domain name and potentially revoke the licence. The industry body also conducts audits in order to ensure domain names abide by their provisions. If you’re unsure whether you can use a domain name, a website lawyer can advise you further on what you’re restricted from using.

Still unsure? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

Christopher Tsiknas

Chris is a legal intern at LawPath and is currently studying a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Laws at UTS. He is interested in how marketing communication strategies can influence the future of legal technology.