Registered vs Unregistered NDIS Providers: What's The Difference?

NDIS providers are one of the main contact points in helping them pursue these goals. But what is the difference between registered NDIS providers or unregistered providers? This blog post covers it all.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) operates to provide necessary support and funding for people with significant disabilities, their families and carers. All NDIS participants have an individual plan with their goals, the support they need, and the funding received.

NDIS providers can be divided into two groups: registered and unregistered. Registered NDIS providers are those who have been approved by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) as meeting certain standards of quality, experience, qualifications or competency to provide services for NDIS participants. Unregistered NDIS providers are not required to meet these standards but may still do so.

If you're wondering about the difference between a registered and unregistered provider, what an NDIS provider is, or the benefits of becoming one, keep reading!

In this article, we'll run through:

  1. What is the difference between a registered and unregistered provider

  2. Pros & cons of being registered

  3. More on unregistered NDIS providers

  4. Should I become a registered provider: things to consider

  5. How to become a registered NDIS provider

  6. Conclusion

What is the difference between a Registered and Unregistered NDIS provider?

There are two main categories of NDIS providers, registered and unregistered. The difference between the two is that a registered provider has been approved by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to deliver support to plan-managed participants while an unregistered service provider may not have received approval yet or they may choose not to register with the NDIS.

Unregistered NDIS providers are not accountable to the NDIA in any way and therefore cannot be investigated by them. This also means that they are unable to work directly with NDIA-managed participants, potentially limiting expansion opportunities and access to a wider pool of clients. Some examples of unregistered providers are private or family operators who run small disability service businesses.

If you're looking to become an NDIS provider, a registered status is typically better as it means that you will be part of a wider network and accountable to the agency so there's more opportunity for growth! But it also comes with a handful of challenges that need to be considered.

What are the pros & cons of becoming a registered NDIS provider?

While being a registered NDIS provider is usually recommended because they're seen as more credible and trustworthy, there are benefits and disadvantages associated with both registered and unregistered providers.

Registered: Pros

  • Access to NDIA-managed participants

  • Seen as more trustworthy and credible by participants

  • Higher quality service due to the NDIS' stringent standards

  • Quicker cash flow as payments are handled through the NDIS portal

  • Easier access to financing from in-depth documentation requirements

Registered: Cons

  • Higher start up and ongoing costs for registration and audits

  • Stricter compliance requirements

  • More paperwork

  • Legal matters can arise if the quality of service offered is not up to standard

Unregistered: Pros

  • Starting up is quicker and easier

  • Less costs as there are no licensing or audit fees

  • Able to work directly with participants (instead of through the NDIA), making it easier to build relationships

  • Able to offer more competitive prices as it is not subjected to the NDIS price guide

Unregistered: Cons

  • May be seen as less trustworthy (participants are more wary)

  • Need to focus more on building a strong reputation in the community, especially as a new business

  • No access to NDIA-provided lists, making it harder to scale the business

  • No documentation or auditing requirements could lead to lower quality services or legal liabilities

More on unregistered NDIS providers

Do unregistered providers get audited?

Unlike registered providers, unregistered providers may not get audited due to the fact that they are unregistered and cannot be investigated by the NDIA. An investigation may occur as a result of a complaint or as part of planned reviews. In both cases, an audit will only commence if the NDIA has sufficient evidence to take action against an unregistered NDIS provider.

How do unregistered providers get paid?

One of the main benefits of being an unregistered provider is that you don't have to use the NDIS portal. Unregistered providers are able to manage cash flow much more easily as they can invoice participants directly, rather than having payments go through the NDIA like with registered providers.

What are the obligations of being an unregistered provider?

Just because unregistered providers are not accountable to the NDIA does not mean that they can act without consequences. Unregistered providers must keep records for their business, including details of staff employed and complaints made against them. They also need to comply with the NDIS Code of Conduct and conduct NDIS Worker Screening Checks for all their employees.

Other useful things to consider for unregistered providers

  • Get an ABN: It's a good idea for any provider to have an ABN number, which it can obtain via the Australian Business Register website, since this allows you to take advantage of tax incentives. Depending on your company structure and the services you offer, you may be required to join other government or professional organisations.

  • Business insurance: Just like with any other company, it's recommended that providers acquire business insurance to cover any risks around your clients and the services or providers you provide. This can include workers' compensation, public liability, or professional indemnity.

  • NDIS pricing: There are several different types of NDIS supports, each with its own set of pricing parameters controlled by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). It's important that you familiarise yourself with these rates as running a business within the scheme can determine the prices you can charge for your service.

  • NDIS Service Agreements and invoices: A Service Agreement provides information about your company, describe the service to be given, how and when it will be delivered, the cost of the service, both parties' responsibilities, and how any changes or difficulties may be addressed. All NDIS providers are advised to employ Service Agreements so that both parties are aware of what has been agreed.

Things to consider before registering

While it is generally recommended to be a registered provider, the decision to register ultimately depends on your business size, goals, and services provided.

While the registered status may have many benefits as mentioned earlier, audits, licensing, and registration can be very expensive to acquire and maintain. Proprietorship businesses or new providers may not have the extra financial resources or time to submit documentation and meet the NDIA's high standards. You may also not be looking to grow your business, preferring to stay local and maintain the relationships you have with pre-existing participants in the community.

However, businesses that provide certain services are required to be registered. These support categories include:

  • Coordination of supports

  • Improved living arrangements (some are services that cannot be delivered)

  • Improved relationships

  • Improved life choices

How to become registered

It's important to make an informed decision before registering with the NDIS, especially if you're considering changing your current business structure. If you prefer to be an unregistered provider, there's nothing much you need to do - simply operate with an ABN and invoice participants directly. However, onboarding new clients may be more difficult without the registered status.

For those looking to register, check out the 5 Steps To Becoming A Registered NDIS Provider where we walk you through everything you need to know about the registration process.

Conclusion

Whether you're registered or not registered, all providers can benefit from more efficient operations, easier rostering, and decreased time spent on admin and paperwork. That's where ShiftCare comes in! As a leader in care management, our platform manages clients, schedules, funds, invoicing, and documents, helping streamline processes for both local providers and large-scale businesses.

Try it for yourself with our 7-day free trial.

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