How do I choose and register a domain name for a website?

As part of getting online you will need to select a web address, or domain name . It is worth spending some time considering this decision as your domain name is an important promotional tool.

What is a domain name?

Your domain name is your address on the web. It is one of the main ways people will find your organisation online. It also known as a URL (uniform resource locator).

Consider a domain name such as

domain name

There are rules about the kind of domain name your particular organisation can register, as shown in the table below.


Types of domain names


Associated rules/guidelines: Commercial entities or networks registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission or with a state or territory government regulator

Registering a domain with the ‘.au’ extension ensures that people know that your organisation is Australian. On the other hand, if you want to operate globally, you may want an address with no ‘.au’ extension.


Some lesser-known classes of domain include ‘.biz’ for businesses, ‘.info’ for information services and ‘.mobi’ for mobile websites.

How do I choose a suitable domain name?

It is important when choosing the ‘mywebsitename’ part of your domain name to remember that users must be able to associate it with your organisation. Ideally it could be your organisation name or its core offering.

Digital Tip Changing your domain name

Don’t worry—you can change your domain name if your business name changes, or you are just unhappy with it. However, it will cost to buy your new domain and associate your site with it.

You may also want to keep your old domain(s) as web users may keep typing in your old domain to reach your site if they are unaware of the change. Consider redirecting traffic heading to your old domain(s) to your new domain. The company that you bought your domain from should be able to help you with this.”

You may want to ask yourself the following when choosing your domain name:

  • Does it suit my reputation and branding?
  • Is it easy to remember?
  • Is it easy to spell?
  • Is it easy to say over the phone?
  • How easily will users be able to guess my domain name?

You may benefit from registering an array of domain names (including different versions of your business name and likely misspellings) and types of domain — ‘.com’, ‘’, ‘.net’. This will capture traffic from people who mistype your address and prevent a rival from registering a similar address in order to steal your traffic.

Because of the enormous popularity of ‘.com’, which is almost a default web address, you might consider registering that domain as a matter of course, in addition to your other choices.

Digital TipMultiple domain names: one website, accessible from multiple routes

You only need to create your website once, even if you register multiple domain names. You can assign your secondary domain names to redirect web traffic to your primary domain, where your website is located.

How do I get a domain name?

Prices for domain name registrations vary between resellers, but they typically range from $10 to $100 per annum. The price is affected by factors such as duration of registration and any additional services provided.

Generally ‘.au’ domains have a set registration period of two years. Top level domains that are not country-specific such as ‘.com’ and ‘.net’ are available for registration for up to 10 years at a time.


When you register a domain, you are required to provide certain information about yourself or organisation (contact name, telephone, mailing address and email details, and perhaps your ABN). This information can become publicly available once registration is complete and it is sometimes exploited by spammers and direct marketers. To protect your privacy, some registrars offer a masking service for which you pay an additional fee.

Once you have registered your domain name, you need to assign it to your website hosting service provider. This is a simple process and most providers will give you the instructions on how to do it. If your hosting service is with the same provider as your domain registration, assigning the domain will normally happen automatically.

To learn more about domain name registration in Australia, visit the .au Domain Administration website. You can find the owners of currently registered Australian domain names and check the availability of any domain name(s) you want by using the ‘WHOIS’ tool at AusRegistry.

To find the owners of registered international domains, you can use

What can I do if the domain name I want is already taken?

If your chosen name is not available, the simplest alternative is to look at other options. One option could be to add onto your domain name a hyphen followed by a keyword that describes what your organisation does (for example, ‘’). Your WHOISlookup might suggest alternative similar domain names that are available.

If near enough is not good enough, there are ways to go about securing a particular domain name.

You can request to back-order a domain name that is approaching its expiry date, but there is no guarantee that the current owner of that domain is going to let their registration expire.

Alternatively, you may be able to negotiate ownership with the organisation that holds the domain name that you want. You can search for the contact details for the owner of your desired domain with a WHOIS lookup.

A note on ‘cybersquatters

Cybersquatters register domain names that they do not require for the sole purpose of making money. They may be squatting on a domain name so that they can sell it back to a legitimate registrant at an increased price or so that they can sell advertising space to that business’ competitors.

If your domain has been taken by a cybersquatter, using the .au Dispute Resolution Policy could be the best course of action. This process is intended to be quicker and cheaper than it would be for you to file a lawsuit, but it is not free.


Fact sheet: web addresses

How to claim an address on the web

Here is a checklist to help guide you through the process of registering a web address:

  • Choose a  domain nameFor more information on how to choose a domain name, see ‘Registering a web address‘.
  • Check to see if you are eligible for the domain name you want.For more information on the domain names you might be eligible for, see ‘Registering a web address‘. You can also conduct further research:
    If you are registering a global domain name, you can go to the ICANN website.
    If you are registering a ‘.au’ domain name, you can go to the .au Domain Administration website or AusRegistry websites.
  • Check to see if the domain name you want is available by using a WHOIS service:
    If you are registering a ‘’, ‘’, ‘’, ‘’ or ‘’ name, use the AusRegistry WHOIS lookup.
    If you are registering a global domain name, use
    If your chosen name is not available, look at other options. Your WHOIS lookup might suggest alternative similar domain names that are available.
  • Make sure that your chosen domain name does not infringe anybody’s trademark. You can search IP Australia’s trademark database to check if the domain name you want matches any existing trademarked names.
  • Find an accredited registrar to buy your domain name from.
    Both the .au Domain Administration and AusRegistry websites provide a list of accredited registrars.
  • Register your domain name.

Remember to renew

If you want to hold onto a domain name, make sure that you keep track of when your licence on that domain is going to lapse. Before your licence lapses, you will have the opportunity to renew it. If you forget to renew your licence, or you intentionally let it lapse, you could lose your rights to that domain name for some time.