New Requirements for Company Directors Under Federal Government’s Modernising Business Registers Program

5 min read

All company directors now need to verify their identity, following the introduction of new requirements under the federal government’s broader Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program,

The MBR is designed to streamline how individuals register, view and maintain business information, as well as making business information more trusted. As part of this regime, the government also plans to move the companies register, business names register and ABN’s to the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) by 2024.

A company director is anyone who is a director of a company, a corporate trustee (eg. a director of a corporate trustee of a SMSF), a foreign company registered with ASIC and carrying on business in Australia, or various registered bodies.

Existing directors will need to apply for a director identification number (DIN) by 30 November 2022 if they were appointed before 1 November 2021. New directors appointed on or before 31 October 2021 must apply by 30 November 2022, while directors appointed between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022 must apply within 28 days of appointment.

Applications for a DIN, with ARBS, can be made from November 2021. Directors are only required to apply once and it is free to apply.

A Director identifier (DIN) is given to a director (or someone who intends to become a director), which they will be required by law to verify their identity before receiving a director ID.

The DIN consists of a unique 15-digit number, which starts with 036 (which is the 3-digit country code for Australia under International Standard ISO 3166) and ends with an 11-digit number and one ‘check’ digit for error detection. Directors will only ever have one director ID, which they will keep forever, even if they change companies, stop being a director, change their name or move interstate or overseas.

Apply online to receive a director ID. To complete an online application, the director will need information to verify their identity by providing: 

  • Their individual Australian tax file number (TFN); which is optional, but will speed up the process;
  • Residential address, as recorded by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO);
  • Answers to two questions based on information already on government files (such as bank account details, Notice of Assessment, superannuation account details, dividend statements, Centrelink payment summaries, PAYG payment summaries). 
Applications can also be made by phone or on paper.
  • If applying over the phone, on 13 62 52, the above information will be required along with two Australian identity documents (one primary and one secondary). If you are calling from anywhere in  Australia, the telephone number is 13 62 50.
  • If applying via a paper application, in addition to the information requested on the application form, directors will also need to provide certified copies of one primary and two secondary identity documents. (Original documents should not be sent, as these will not be returned to you).

Once a director ID has been issued, directors can update and manage their details with the ARBS; which must be notified within seven (7) days. (Note: This 7-day period to update director details with ABRS is less than the time period to notify changes in director details with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, ASIC, which is within 28 days to avoid late fees.)

The DIN comes with certain obligations, such as applying within the relevant time frame, not applying for more than one DIN and not misrepresenting the DIN to any companies or registered bodies. Failure to comply can attract an infringement notice or, for more serious breaches, incur civil or criminal penalties.

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