Directors now have to sign up for an ID number: What you need to know

Company directors are now required to verify their identity and apply for a Director Identification Number (director ID) in an effort by the federal government to deal with illegal phoenix activities and improve the traceability of company directors over time.

Dec 06, 2021, updated Dec 06, 2021

Included as part of the Treasury Laws Amendment Act 2020 by the Australian Government, the measure is also intended to cut down on the use of false or fraudulent director identities by assigning a unique ID to directors that lasts forever.

With applications for existing directors now open, Matt Laming, BDO National Leader – Business Services, has answered some FAQs about director ID’s and the processes surrounding them.

What is a director ID?

A director ID is a 15-digit identifier given to a director, or someone who intends to become a director, who has verified their identity with the Australian Business Registry Services. This will be used to trace relationships to companies over time.

Directors need to apply for their own ID and they will only ever have one, which they will keep forever.

Who is required to hold a director ID?

A director ID is required if an individual is an eligible officer of:

  • A company, a registered Australian body or a registered foreign company under the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act)
  • An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act).

An eligible officer is a person who is appointed as:

  • A director
  • An alternate director who is acting in that capacity.

A person who expects to become an eligible officer within 12 months may apply for an ID (if they do not already hold one). Once registered, that person has 12 months to be appointed as an eligible officer or their ID will be made inactive.

How do directors apply for an ID?

Applicants are required to verify their identity using a combination of identification documents and existing ATO held information.

There are three options for the application process:

  1. MyGovID– this is an application designed to allow users to authenticate with the Australian Government websites and services and was developed by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).
  2. Apply by phone– you can apply by phone if you have an Australia Tax file number (TFN) and have the information you need to verify your identify.
  3. Paper form– If you can’t apply online or over the phone, you can apply using a downloadable form.  This process may take longer to complete and you will also need to provide certified copies of your documents to verify your identity.
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Foreign Directors that do not hold an Australian TFN will most likely need to apply via the paper form.

Further application details are available at the Australian Business Registry Services website.

When do directors need to apply?

Applications for a director ID are now open.  Both existing and new directors will need to apply in accordance with the following dates:

When do directors need to use the ID?

The director ID needs to be provided to the corporation’s record-holder, which can be the company secretary, another director or an authorised agent of the company.

If appointed as a director of any other companies in the future, directors will also need to give their ID number to the people responsible for maintaining the records of those companies.

Directors must also inform the Registrar of any changes to the information attached to their ID.

What happens if directors fail to comply?

Failing to hold a director ID may result in an infringement notice or possible civil and/or criminal prosecution.  The maximum penalties are 60 penalty units ($13,320 at the current penalty unit rate of $222) and 1 year imprisonment. Certain offences may also be applied against those involved in a contravention, which could include the eligible officer’s advisers. 

Additional breaches include if a director:

  • Fails to comply with a direction from the Registrar
  • Applies for multiple director ID’s
  • Provides a false ID
  • Misrepresents their ID
  • Provides false or misleading information.

 This article is a version of one first published on


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