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Choosing a Domain Name

Consider if you require a new domain name, or if your needs can be met using an existing domain name

There are several ways to direct users to your information or service, including:

  • Registering a new domain name within your government jurisdiction. This can be done through the www.domainname.gov.au website. As the Registrant Contact you will be responsible for maintaining accurate contact and Domain Name System (DNS) server details, renewing the domain name every two years and payment of any applicable fees.
    For example: asthma.nsw.gov.au or diabetes.sa.gov.au
  • Creating a subdomain within an existing domain name. You will need to check with the web manager of the parent domain if this is possible for your preferred subdomain.
    For example: to use the subdomain asthma.health.nsw.gov.au you would need to contact the web manager of health.nsw.gov.au
  • Creating a new directory within an existing domain name. You will need to check with the web manager of the parent domain name if this is possible for your preferred subdomain. This can usually only be set up if the online information is located on the same web server.
    For example: health.nsw.gov.au/asthma

Consider which of these options suits your requirement. You may prefer to register a separate domain name if:

  • Your information or service has a particularly high profile;
  • A separate domain name will make your information or service significantly easier for users to locate; or
  • There is a need to present your information or service independently of a parent agency or topic.

You may prefer to use a subdomain or directory within an existing domain name if:

  • Your information or service is short term (e.g. a 6-month project)
  • You would like to avoid the administrative burden and associated fees of managing a separate domain name; or
  • You would like to present your information or service within the context of a broader organisation or topic.
  • Setting up subdomains
    Any major website or service should have a registered domain name. In some cases agencies may wish to use subdomains. Subdomains can be set up internally by the department or agency’s Service Provider. Please note that it is not a requirement to formally register subdomains and they cannot be submitted to the www.domainname.gov.au system.

Consider how best to direct users to your particular type of information or service

There may be certain naming conventions within your agency or government for different types of information and services.

  • Departmental names are usually presented as department.jurisdiction.gov.au.
    For example: dest.gov.au; transport.wa.gov.au
  • Agencies/statutory authorities and other government bodies are usually presented as agency.jurisdiction.gov.au. Smaller agencies may also be presented within a parent department as agency.department.jurisdiction.gov.au.

    For example: osw.dpmc.gov.au

  • Large, high profile or cross-agency projects, initiatives or services are usually presented as project.jurisdiction.gov.au or service.jurisdiction.gov.au.
    For example: emergencyinformation.act.gov.au
  • Smaller projects and services are usually presented within the existing domain name of the responsible agency or department as project.agency.jurisdiction.gov.au or agency.jurisdiction.gov.au/project.
    For example: health.nsw.gov.au/services
  • Events do not usually require a separate domain name unless they have a particular high profile.
    For example: 2000games.gov.au
  • If you have a regular event or conference that requires a domain name we suggest you make the domain name as broad as possible so it can be reused.
    For example: The domain name healthconference.gov.au could be used to direct users to information about an annual conference, and reused each year as healthconference.gov.au/2003, healthconference.gov.au/2004 etc.
  • Some jurisdictions may have generic domain names set up to direct to information about events that you can utilise instead of registering a separate domain name.
    For example: events.nsw.gov.au
  • Committees, taskforces and other groups do not generally need a separate domain name unless they are particularly high profile or need to present themselves as independent of one particular agency. If your committee, taskforce or group does require a separate domain name you will need to nominate a single government organisation as responsible for administering the domain name.

Consider how best to present your information or service in a domain name format

Domain names are intended to be human-memorable addresses that direct to online information or services.

There are restrictions on the format a gov.au domain name can take:

  • Must include the extension jurisdiction.gov.au. For example, act.gov.au, nsw.gov.au or just gov.au for Australian Government.
  • Must only include letters a-z, numbers 0-9 and hyphen (-). No other characters, such as $, @, %, _, are allowed.
  • Must not exceed 60 characters in length, including the gov.au extension.

In order to translate the name of an agency, project, service or function into the domain name format you may be required to use abbreviations, acronyms or keywords.

The following are examples of different naming formats.

Full name

Sample: australianbureauofstatistics.gov.au

Advantages:

  • An exact match to the function.
  • An exact match to other forms of branding such as letterhead or signage.

Disadvantages:

  • Likely to contain several words, and therefore not easily read or typed, and not easily remembered.

Recommendation:

  • Only use if the full name is short and easily remembered.

Acronym

Sample: abs.gov.au

Advantages:

  • Short.
  • Easy to read and type.

Disadvantages:

  • May not be meaningful to users.

Recommendation:

  • Only use if the acronym is well-known by users (e.g. ato.gov.au).

Abbreviation

Sample: ausbureaustats.gov.au

Advantages:

  • Short.

Disadvantages:

  • May not be meaningful to users.

Recommendation:

  • Only use if the abbreviation is well-known to users.

Key word

Sample: statistics.gov.au

Advantages:

  • Short.
  • Easy to read and type.
  • Usually meaningful to users.
  • Memorable.

Disadvantages:

  • May be too generic, and mislead users about the type of information being provided. For example, users might assume a domain name such as governmentsecurity.gov.au links to all information provided by government about that topic, when in fact it only directs to information provided by a single agency or project.

Recommendation:

  • Suitable in most cases, but be careful to make sure the domain name represents the nature of the information being provided.

Consider how machinery of government changes might impact your domain name

Try to select domain names that are less likely to be impacted by machinery of government changes.

Generally, acronyms and full names that may represent a collection of areas.

For example: education, science, training – dest.gov.au, are more likely to be impacted than single keywords.

For example: education.gov.au, training.gov.au.

Using non-government domain names

It is recommended that Government agencies should only register outside of the gov.au domain if:

  • There is a compelling commercial business reason to do so.
    For example: international tourism sites – atc.net.au; organisations that may not be readily recognised as government bodies.
  • In order to protect against the use of government ‘brands’ in other domain spaces.
    For example: to stop someone else from using a high profile government brand such as ‘centrelink’, ‘smartraveller’ or ‘multimediavictoria’ for commercial gain.

    Note that this would only be necessary for high profile or commercially valuable brands.

  • If agencies do register outside of the gov.au domain, they should also register the gov.au equivalent.
  • Government agencies should contact auDA for advice before purchasing domain names from the secondary domain name market.