The Australian government announced the full implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program in its 2020 Budget Digital Business Plan. This program is designed to establish the new Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) and enhance how businesses register and manage their information with the government.

The ABRS is rolling out progressively between 2021 and 2024, but one of the immediate changes is that business directors must obtain a director identification number.

Here is what you need to know.


Director identification number definition

A director identification number is a unique number you as a director apply for once and keep forever. It’s designed to prevent the false or fraudulent use of your identity.

The number is 15 digits long and is allocated to any director—or someone who plans to become a director—who has verified their identity with the ABRS. All Australian director identification numbers start with the digits 036 (Australia’s country code under International Standard ISO 3166) and end with an 11-digit number plus one digit designed for error detection.

This ID number is yours forever, even if you change companies, stop being a director, change your name or move overseas.


Why you need a director ID

Verifying your identity with the ABRS helps prevent fraudulent or false IDs from being used, which makes it easier for regulators to trace directors’ relationships with companies over time and identify and eliminate unlawful director activity. It safeguards your identity and reduces the chance of identity fraud.

Additionally, various groups, including creditors, shareholders, and employees, are entitled to know the names of a company’s directors.


Who must obtain a director ID

Any eligible company officer, including people appointed as a director or an alternate director of a company, must obtain a director ID. This includes a director of a company, a registered Australian body, a registered foreign company, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation, or a corporate trustee.

Under the Corporations Act, a director must be at least 18 years old and cannot be disqualified from managing corporations unless ASIC or the Court has given permission. Under the CATSI Act, a director must be at least 18 years old, a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, and not disqualified from managing a corporation unless given permission Registrar.

Finally, some people do not need an ID, such as are those who are a company secretary but not a director; a company’s external administrator; running a business as a sole trader or partnership; or have a “director” in the job title but were not appointed officially as a director under the Corporations Act or the CATSI Act.

Find out more on who needs to apply and when at the Australian Business Registry Services site.


Applying for a Director Identification Number

Starting in November 2021, you must apply for a director ID if you meet the director criteria outlined above. Your deadline depends on the date you became a director.

If you became a director under the Corporations Act, then:

  • On or before 31 October 2021, you must apply by 30 November 2022
  • Between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022, you must apply within 28 days of the appointment
  • From 5 April 2022 on, you must apply before the appointment.

If you became a director under the CATSI Act, then:

  • On or before 31 October 2022, you must apply by 30 November 2023
  • From 1 November 2022, you must apply before the appointment.

To apply:

  1. Set up your myGovID (This is different to myGov and you will need standard or strong identity strength)
  2. Gather your documents, including your tax file number (TFN), your residential address, and ID verification;
  3. Login to ABRS and apply

It is free to apply for your director identification number, but you must apply for your own number and verify your identity. No one else can apply for the ID on your behalf. If you need any assistance, both Peter and Kelly have been through the process and can guide you. You will then need to give your Director ID to the company secretary and your tax/ASIC agent.


Final thoughts

For more information on the director identification number, visit the Australian Government Australian Taxation Office on Modernising Business Registers or the Australian Business Registry Services site with a complete overview of the Director Identification Number process.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, feel free to get in touch and Join the conversation…

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