Important considerations for starting a business

Sep 30, 2019 11:30:00 AM

Getting your business off the ground starts with registering your business in New Zealand.

In this blog, we explain the three key steps business owners should follow to make sure their business is legally registered.

1. Set up your company name

When applying, your chosen business name will be checked against other names in the Register to make sure it is available. In order to apply, you will need to follow these steps:

  • Conduct a search to see if your chosen business name, web domains and social media usernames are available. No one wants to start a company and find out later that there is a similar business that will benefit from any marketing you do, or all the domain names and social media links are owned by someone else. All research for this can be done online in a short time using ONEcheck or NZBN Register.
  • Reserve your company name by creating or logging on to your RealMe® account.
  • Formally register your company.

 2. Apply for a business IRD number

Before starting to trade, new Kiwi businesses are also required to have an IRD number. You can register for this through the myIR service provided by the Inland Revenue Department. 

The IRD number allows you to:

  • File tax returns for your business, such as GST and employer returns. 
  • Manage tax-related personal and business information.
  • Keep on top of income tax filing requirements and payment options.
  • Check all Inland Revenue accounts, including your KiwiSaver employer account. 

The structure of your business determines how you will obtain an IRD number. Sole traders and contractors use their personal IRD numbers for their businesses. Within a partnership, each partner maintains a personal IRD number, while the business itself must have its own. Companies have their own IRD numbers and must be filed with the Companies Office. 

Important note: If you are planning on hiring staff — whether they are permanent, fixed-term, or casual employees — you may have to register with the IRD as an employer. This also applies if you will work with outside contractors, and even if you plan to employ your spouse or partner.


3. Apply for a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)

The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a unique number that officially identifies your business, both within New Zealand and internationally. 

Having an NZBN will make your communications with government agencies, customers, and other businesses much faster and simpler. It will also speed up the invoicing process and make it easier to manage your registered business information across all official government accounts.

Businesses structured as companies automatically get an NZBN upon registration with the Companies Office. However, sole traders, partnerships, and trusts will need the following to apply for an NZBN:

  • RealMe® login credentials
  • The IRD number that's attached to the business
  • Details that differ according to the business structure. For example, sole traders need to provide personally identifying information, partnerships must additionally provide proof of partnership along with ID, and trusts must provide trustee details and proof of trustee status.

To learn more about the NZBN, watch the video below. 


Starting your business off right means following the right steps. By setting up your company name, applying for your IRD number and NZBN number, you are on the right track to register your business in New Zealand and move forward with confidence. 


Want support in navigating the early stages of your business? Contact Business Mentors today to get matched with the perfect mentor for you.