WARNING - com.au Domain Name Licence Renewals

Posted by Jo Lim on 23 January 2001

Be wary of Renewal Notices

A number of companies are now offering .com.au domain name renewal services, but some of these companies do not always explain the choice consumers have in their decision to renew the licence of their preferred domain name (e.g. my-organisation.com.au). Some companies have also begun sending notices that are in the form of invoices, and which may mislead people into paying more than they should for renewal of their licence. The nature of these notices may also mislead some people as to the relationship of the company to the Australian Domain Name System (.au DNS).

The administration of the .au DNS is in transition to .au Domain Administration (auDA), but the hierarchy of the DNS and the licensing arrangements for domain names remain unchanged.

Australian domain names can only be registered in the second level domains (e.g. .com.au, .net.au etc), except in the case of id.au. Each of these second level domains is operated by a single company or individual (registrar) who presently has sole access to add names to the particular database of registered domain names in that domain.

However, there is nothing to prevent other companies and individuals from registering domain names with the registrars on consumers' behalf, and many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do this as part of providing their customers with Internet access. Also, the registrar for .com.au has entered into agreements that allow companies and individuals to resell licence renewal services on its behalf.

If you have registered a domain name in .com.au or .net.au you must re-new the domain name licence every 2 years, irrespective of who made the original registration. You will normally receive a renewal letter from the original supplier of your domain name licence shortly before the registration is due to expire.

Be aware if you have a .com.au domain name you may receive what appears to be a renewal letter or an invoice from another supplier of domain names wishing to compete for your business. Competition can result in lower prices, but you will still need to contact other competitors to find the price that suits you. You should carefully check the rates and terms and conditions of the renewal and compare this with the current provider of your domain name.

Do not assume that any renewal letter or invoice is from your original supplier.

Be aware that some companies are claiming an association with individual registrars or delegates, but that does not necessarily make them official or authoritative for your domain name licence.

Do not assume that because you receive what appears to be an invoice, that you must therefore pay it. You should only pay the supplier you wish to renew through.

Be aware that your current supplier may also be providing you with other services such as internet access and email, and that the price of the domain name registration may be bundled with these services. Under these circumstances, you may already be paying for your licence renewal.

You can contact auDA, the self regulatory body that governs the .au domain space and sets policy in respect to domain names, for a list of the registrars for each Australian domain. Visit http://www.auda.org.au (for example auDA's Registering Domains guide) for further information.

If you believe you have been misled or deceived into renewing your domain name licence renewal to your disadvantage, then you may contact the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). The ACCC is responsible for administering the Trade Practices Act 1974, which contains prohibitions against certain types of misleading or deceptive conduct. Contact details are at http://www.accc.gov.au.

Chris Disspain
CEO - auDA