During the release of the 2020 Budget, the Federal Parliament unveiled what was referred to as the Digital Business Plan. This was a suite of changes to be implemented between 2021 and 2024 to modernise business registers in Australia. One item in this suite of changes was the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) which would be established to combine the existing Australian Business Register (ABR) and over 30 other Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) registers.
In an attempt to streamline the department’s services and identification of company directors, Director Identification Numbers (DIN) have now been introduced which will verify the identity of a person claiming to be a director, attempt to prevent instances of identity fraud, and further deter illegal phoenixing activity.
To achieve these goals, Director Identification Numbers are now compulsory for all Directors of a company (from 05 April 2022) with very few exceptions, therefore most directors by now should have obtained a Director Identification Number.
Once a director has obtained a DIN, that number will remain associated with that director forever, thereby preventing falsification of information or fraudulent dealings.
The DIN does not alter or affect current requirements for company record keeping or impose further obligations on a company or a director. It is an extra measure for ensuring the correct identity of a party. It is not yet necessary to provide a DIN to ASIC or any other company until 2023 when ASIC is expected to merge with the ABRS.
Existing directors who had been appointed to their role on or before 31 October 2021 have until 30 November 2022 to make an application for a DIN. A director appointed between 01 November 2021 and 04 April 2022 must apply within 28 days of their appointment. From 05 April 2022, being the period we are now in, a director must apply for a DIN before being appointed. Failure to apply for a DIN may be a criminal offence and ASIC is responsible for enforcing DIN offences, while the ABRS is responsible for administering the program.
Offences relating to the DIN are set out in section 1272 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and can be either criminal or civil in nature carrying a maximum criminal penalty of $26,640.00, 1-year imprisonment, or both, and a maximum civil penalty of $1,100,000.00. This may include failure to obtain a DIN when required to do so or when directed to do so.
The last date to have obtained a DIN was 05 April 2022, and therefore, any current director of a company should have already obtained a DIN by this date. The exception to this is a director who was appointed before 01 November 2021 and has not accepted any new appointments since that date, in which case the deadline is extended to 30 November 2022.
DINs can be applied for at the ABRS website
< https://www.abrs.gov.au/director-identification-number >
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