Domain names

The Domain Name System (DNS) underpins the operation of the Internet. The DNS is the global database that translates website names (such as into computer-readable Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

The not-for-profit .au Domain Administration (auDA) oversees the operation and management of the .au portion of the DNS. auDA is an independent body endorsed by the Australian Government as the appropriate entity to administer Australia's country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD)—the .au domain—on behalf of Australian Internet users.

The department participates in international groups to advocate for Australia's interests regarding the Internet, including the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which coordinates DNS and IP address policy at a global level. ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advises ICANN on Internet-related public policy matters. The department represents the Australian Government on the GAC, advocating for Australia's interests and working with other stakeholders to make sure the Internet remains open, free, secure and interoperable.

auDA's Terms of Endorsement

auDA is an independent not-for-profit organisation which has been endorsed as the .au ccTLD manager since 2000. auDA's current Terms of Endorsement provide the Government's formal endorsement of auDA, which is subject to auDA's compliance with the Government's expectations.

auDA develops and implements .au domain policies and allocates (or licences) .au domain names to users who meet its eligibility criteria.

While auDA is solely responsible for making policy on .au domain matters, it is required to adhere to multi-stakeholder governance principles and consult widely with Government and the community prior to making a decision.

In addition to the conditions in the Terms of Endorsement, the Government has some reserve legislative powers relating to the .au ccTLD, located in:

Reviews of the Terms of Endorsement for auDA

In 2017 and 2018, the former Department of Communications and the Arts undertook a review of auDA's governance arrangements. The 2018 review recommended that the Terms of Endorsement arising from the review should be revisited after two years of operation. More information about this review can be found at 2018 Review of the .au Domain Administration.

The Terms of Endorsement were again reviewed in 2021, including a public consultation process:

Following the recommendations of the 2021 review, updated Terms of Endorsement were issued.

The new Terms are based on a set of core principles, including:

  • Effective engagement with the Australian Government
  • Supporting trust and confidence in .au
  • Promoting principles of competition, fair trading and consumer protection
  • Supporting fair and transparent multi-stakeholder engagement
  • Supporting a membership structure that reflects the diversity of the Australian community
  • Maintaining effective governance processes that are transparent, accountable, support effective decision-making and promote the interests of the Australian community

Board Observer role

The department, representing the government, sits as a non-voting observer at auDA Board meetings. Details of the arrangement can be found in:

Nominations Committee

Consistent with the 2018 Review, a Nominations Committee comprising representatives from industry, business, consumers and the department, representing the Government, was established to reconstitute auDA's Board.

The Nominations Committee was appointed on 16 May 2019. View:

Other Australian ccTLDs

For historical reasons, a number of Australia's external territories have also been allocated their own ccTLDs. These are:

  • Cocos Keeling Islands (.cc)
  • Christmas Island (.cx)
  • Norfolk Island (.nf)
  • Heard and McDonald Islands (.hm).

Each of these ccTLDs is operated by a different domain manager and has different governance arrangements. The Australian Government works with the domain managers to ensure that these ccTLDs are administered in an accountable and transparent manner, in accordance with Australian law. We also track issues affecting these domains which may have an impact on Australians.