Modernising Business Registers and Director Identification Numbers

As part of the 2020 Budget Digital Business Plan, the government announced funding to enable the full implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program.

The MBR Program will unify the Australian Business Register (ABR) and 31 registers administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on a contemporary, digital registry system. This includes the registers for:

  • companies
  • business names
  • Australian business numbers (ABN) and others.

The unified government business register will be maintained by the ATO and allow businesses to quickly view, update and maintain their business registry data in one location which will:

  • make it easier for businesses to meet their registration obligations – leaving them with more time to focus on their customers and business operations
  • make business information more trusted and valuable
  • improve the efficiency of registry service transactions.

In June 2020 the MBR program reached a milestone with the Commonwealth Registers Bill 2019 and four related bills receiving royal assent.

The ABR and existing ASIC registers will continue to operate as per normal, until functionality is transitioned to the new registry.

To deliver the MBR Program, the ATO is working in partnership with:

  • Treasury
  • ASIC
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Digital Transformation Agency.

Director identification number

The MBR Program will also include the introduction of a director identification number which is a unique identifier that a director will keep forever. The director identification number will prevent the appointment of fictitious directors and facilitate traceability of their profile and relationships with companies over time.

The director identification number initiative under the MBR program will support fairness in our systems and help mitigate illegal phoenix activities.

Illegal phoenix activity is when a new company is created to continue the business of a company that has been deliberately liquidated to avoid paying its debts, including:

  • taxes
  • creditors
  • employee entitlements.

The director identification number is a unique identifier for existing directors, or people who want to become directors of a company or a registered body.

Directors of businesses will be able to interact with government agencies using their director identification number. Regulators will be able to verify the identity of directors and map out their relationships between entities. This will facilitate the traceability of the director and company relationships, which will support those businesses doing the right thing with opportunities to prosper in a fairer economy. It will also help to improve the early detection of those trying to operate outside the system.

For both government agencies and potential customers, director identification numbers will provide more confidence by knowing who people are doing business with.

The director identification number initiative is being co-designed by diverse stakeholder groups. They represent leaders and provide insight from business, industry associations and government agencies that will be impacted by the director identification number initiative.

Through consultation, groups will help the ATO co-design the initiative through strategic, operational and topic based analysis that will shape the design and continuous improvement of this initiative throughout the phases of design and testing.

The MBR Program will be administered over the next four years. While there is no action required yet, we will regularly update you on our journey and communicate widely when action is required.

See also;

Last modified
19 Oct 2020