From November 2021, directors of Australian companies will be required to apply for and verify their identity to register for a Director Identification Number (DIN). A DIN is a 15-digit identifier issued to a current or prospective director after they have verified their identity with Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS). Once a DIN is issued, a director will retain their DIN for life, regardless of whether they change companies, cease to act as a director, change their name or move interstate or overseas.
The statutory requirement to have in place DINs is for the purpose of improvements in transparency and accountability of company directors and combat unlawful activities such as phoenixing, where a company is wound up or abandoned to avoid payment of any debt, and a new company is created to continue its business activities without the debt.
The DIN regime will be administered by ABRS as well as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Who needs to apply for a DIN?
A person must apply for a DIN if they are a director of a company, a registered Australian body or a registered foreign company.
When do you need to register for a DIN by?
The deadline for applying for a DIN will be subject to the date of when a director has been appointed as set out in the table below:
Date of appointment to a company
Date director must apply
On or before 31 October 2021
by 30 November 2022
Between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022
Within 28 days of appointment
From 5 April 2022
What you need to apply for a DIN
The ABRS currently recommends that directors apply through the ABRS website using their myGovID. Directors will need to have the following documentation ready for when they apply. This will include:
- A tax file number (this is optional, however according to the ABRS website this will speed up the application process);
- Details of a director’s residential address as held by the ATO; and
- Information from two documents to verify a director’s identity, such as bank account details, ATO notice of assessment, super account details, a dividend statement, a Centrelink payment summary or a PAYG payment summary.
Alternatively, if a director does not have a myGovID, they may apply over the phone or in paper form.
How Directors Residing Outside of Australia Can Apply
Directors who are residing outside of Australia can make a paper application from November 2021.
Should a director make a paper application, they will need to provide the information requested on the form (which is yet to be released) as well as provide certified copies of one primary and one secondary identity document. If a director has changed their name, they will need to provide another document showing the change.
Primary documents include:
- foreign birth certificate;
- foreign passport;
- Australian full birth certificate; or
- Australian passport (including passports that have expired in the past two years).
Secondary documents include:
- national photo identification card;
- foreign government identification;
- driver’s licence, as long as the licence address matches the address details on your application; or
- marriage certificate (however, if this is used to verify your change of name, you can’t use it as a secondary document).
How companies can be prepared
All Australian companies should ensure that their directors are aware of the incoming compliance requirements outlined above. Specifically, directors should collate the required personal identification documents (and in particular, the documents of their foreign directors, which could take more time) so that applications can be made on time. Also, if a director is based in Australia they should apply for a mygovID (if they do not already have one) in preparation for submitting their application for A DIN.
This is particularly relevant for any new directors who are appointed after 1 November 2021, as they are obliged to apply for a DIN within 28 days of appointment.
Please Note: Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information’s applicability to their particular circumstances.