From November 2021 directors of companies in Australia will need to verify their identity, and can apply for to have a Director Identification Number (DIN) through the newly established Australian Business Registry Services. The aim of the new scheme is to enable stakeholders in companies – including shareholders, employees, creditors and regulators – to know who directors are, and help to prevent repeated unlawful director conduct.

But what is a DIN and who needs one?

What is a Director Identification Number?

A DIN is a unique identifier that a person who is a director of a company, or intends to become a director of a company, will apply for one and keep forever (even if they stop being a director). It is a 15-digit number commencing in 036, end ending with an 11 digit number.

Directors must apply for their DIN themselves, because as part of the process they have to verify their identity. This means that a director cannot get another person to apply for the DIN on their behalf. There is no application fee.

Who needs a DIN?

Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) explains that a person is required to have a DIN if they are a director of a:

  • company
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation
  • corporate trustee, for example, of a self-managed super fund
  • charity or not-for-profit organisation that is a company or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation
  • registered Australian body, for example, an incorporated association that is registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and trades outside the state or territory in which it is incorporated
  • foreign company registered with ASIC and carrying on business in Australia regardless of where you live.

While the DIN is applied for on the ABRS website, to apply you need to myGovID. There are also alternative methods of application via phone or in paper where required. However, the process is relatively quick and simple. To apply a director needs to provide their tax file number, residential address as held by the ATO and information for two documents to verify identity (such as bank statements, ATO notices, Centrelink statements and PAYG summaries).

What happens if I don’t get one?

If a director does not apply for a DIN within the required timeframe, or does not hold a DIN when they are required to, this could result in an infringement notice being issued, civil penalties bring charged and/or criminal prosecution. The maximum penalty is $13,320 and 1 year imprisonment.

The deadline for applying for a DIN will depend on when a director became a director.

  • For directors appointed before 31 October 2021, they have 13 months to apply for a DIN with a deadline of 20 November 2023
  • For directors appointed between 1 November and 4 April 2022, applications must be made within 28 days of appointment.

However, following this transition period, for all directors appointed from 5 April 2022, a DIN must be applied for before you are appointed as a director.

For directors under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006, there are extended timeframes with a transition period of 12 months applying.

How can we help?

If you have any concerns or questions about the DIN scheme or application process, please contact our Commercial Law team. The Snedden Hall & Gallop Commercial Law Team have extensive experience in working with businesses across all levels, and here for any commercial advice and support. Contact them on 02 6285 8000 or by email.