It’s been a busy year for Australia’s two million plus directors dealing with the pandemic and lockdowns and there’s now a new task on their to-do list.
From 1 November 2021, if you’re a director or want to become one, you will need to apply for the new Director Identification Number (Director ID) being rolled out by the Federal Government.
Directors of businesses and entities of all sizes – including directors and corporate trustees of self-managed super funds (SMSFs) – will all need to apply. If you run your business as a sole trader or partnership, however, you won’t need a Director ID.
Director ID: what is it?
The new Director ID is a unique 15-digit identifier most directors will need before they can take up a directorship.
Before you join a board, you will need to apply for your own Director ID which you will keep forever, even if you change boards, stop being a director, change your name or move interstate or overseas.
This new identifier is part of a broader registry modernisation project combining the Australian Business Registry Service (ABRS) with numerous ASIC registers to form a single system overseen by the ATO.
According to the government, unique director identifiers will create a fairer business environment by preventing the use of false and fraudulent director identities.
Who needs a Director ID?
The new regime casts a pretty wide net and will catch most business entities and organisations.
You will need a Director ID if you are an eligible officer of a company, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation, corporate trustee, charity or not-for-profit organisations limited by guarantee, or a foreign company registered with ASIC and conducting business in Australia.
Directors of registered Australian bodies (such as incorporated associations registered with ASIC that trade outside the state or territory in which they are incorporated) also need to apply.
If your organisation has an Australian Business Number (ABN), you can use the ABRS LookUp tool to check whether it is registered with ASIC.
Officers outside the ID regime
Some company officers are not required to apply for the new identifier.
If you are a company secretary but not a director, act as an external administrator of a company, or are called a director but haven’t been appointed as a director under the Corporations Act, you won’t need a Director ID.
Neither will directors of charities not registered with ASIC to operate throughout Australia.
The officers of an unincorporated association, cooperative or incorporated association established under state or territory legislation (unless the organisation is also a registered Australian body), are also exempt.
Applying for your Director ID
From November 2021, you will need to apply for your Director ID on the ABRS website and log in using the myGovID app. The myGovID app is downloaded on your smart device to verify your digital identity and is different to your existing myGov account.
When applying for your Director ID, you are required to personally make the application so you can verify your identity.
There are varying application deadlines for the new identifier, with current directors (on or before 31 October 2021), having until 30 November 2022 to obtain their Director ID.
While existing directors have plenty of time, if you become a director between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022, you must apply for your Director ID within 28 days of your appointment to the board.
Directors appointed after 5 April 2022, must apply prior to taking up their directorship.
If you are unable to apply for your Director ID by the relevant deadline, you can apply for an extension.
Once you receive your new Director ID, you will need to pass it on to your company recordholder who is usually the company secretary or authorised agent. The ABRS is not permitted to disclose Director IDs to the public without consent and your details won’t be searchable on the register.
General Advice Warning: The information provided is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your financial objectives, situation or needs. These should be considered before you act on any information considered in any article and you may want to seek independent professional advice before making a decision.
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