Changes to the licensing rules for domain name registrations in the <.com.au>, <.net.au>, <.edu.au> and other ccTLD spaces will apply from 12 April 2021.  

Domain name registrants will need to ensure they comply with the new licensing rules when registering new domain names as well as when renewing or transferring existing domain name registrations. 

Importantly, the new licensing rules include changes to the eligibility and allocation rules for some namespaces including .com.au and .net.au. They also include restrictions in the sub-licensing of domain names to third parties that do not satisfy the Australian presence test.

These changes will restrict a foreign company's ability to register and sublicense domain names in these namespaces.  

From 12 April 2021, foreign companies that have not been registered with ASIC to trade in Australia and seek to rely on an Australian trade mark application or registration to support their eligibility to register a .com.au or .net.au domain name, will only be able to register, renew or take transfer of domain names that are an exact match to the applied for or registered trade mark they rely upon.  Moreover, sublicensing of domain names to unrelated parties or related body corporates that do not satisfy the Australian presence requirement is expressly prohibited. 

These changes will affect foreign entity franchisors and other foreign companies that hold large domain name portfolios.  It is strongly recommended that foreign entities review their domain name portfolios and ensure that after 12 April 2021 they will be able to comply with the licensing rules for all the domain names they hold.