SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCES

NZ Business Number (NZBN)

4 min read

Launching a business in New Zealand? If you’re considering undertaking business activity in NZ, one of the initial steps you’ll need to take is acquiring a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN).

In fact, this may very well be the first thing you do, even before formulating a business plan.

Registering for a NZ business number is a requirement by law for all persons and entities engaged in recognised business activities. You cannot legally trade in New Zealand without one.

What is a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)

What is a New Zealand Business Number and why do you need one?

In New Zealand, a business entity currently operating as either a sole trader, partnership, company, or trust, is required to register for and retain an NZBN to legally trade.

If you’re undertaking business dealings in NZ without an NZBN, you’re doing so illegitimately and without government permission.

Do I need a New Zealand Business Number?

If there’s any confusion over your status as a business in New Zealand (and your requirement to attain an NZBN), refer to the NZ Government’s definition:

“You’re in business, as defined by the New Zealand Business Number Act 2016, if you acquire or supply goods or services, or acquire or dispose of land (but not if you do this as a consumer, employee, or as an individual member of an unincorporated entity).”

If this describes you, then you must have an NZBN.

How to get a New Zealand Business Number

Luckily, for any person or entity looking to do business in New Zealand, the process of gaining an NZBN is simple and straightforward. There are slightly different criteria and burdens of proof required for:

  • sole traders
  • partnerships
  • trusts
  • companies

If you’re unsure of which business structure to choose, please refer to the click-through guide provided by the NZ Government here.

Let’s outline the differences of each business type and how to go about applying and registering your business with the NZ Government.

NZBN application

The most reasonable and simple method for applying for an NZBN is through an online application. If you’re the responsible party for the business, you can easily do this yourself.

Alternatively, you can nominate a recognised party to do this on your behalf, such as your accountant or bookkeeper.

To apply for an NZBN online:

  • choose your business type
  • visit the online NZBN application form here
  • provide all applicable documents, business information and proof of identity

IRD number

To register your business and receive an NZBN, you’ll need to provide your Inland Revenue Department number. To check your IRD number, or receive one, use the NZ Government site here.

If you’ve been employed in NZ or received student loans, you should already have an IRD number.

Sole Traders

When registering for an NZBN as a sole trader, the requirements are as follows:

  1. IRD number

You’ll be required to enter the IRD number used by your business, which may be your personal IRD number.

  1. Proof of identity

You’ll need to offer proof of identity before you can receive an NZBN. You can use either a New Zealand driver’s license or NZ passport. Failing these, you can use a NZ birth certificate, NZ citizenship certificate or international passport.

  1. RealMe account

The NZBN application process is undertaken through your RealMe account. You can apply for one or log in using the link below.

Start your sole trader NZBN application through RealMe here.

Partnership

When registering for an NZBN as a partnership, the requirements are:

  1. IRD number

You’ll be required to enter the IRD number used by your business, which might be your personal IRD number.

  1. Proof of identity

You’ll need to offer proof of identity before you can receive an NZBN. You can use either a New Zealand driver’s license or NZ passport. Failing these, you can use a NZ birth certificate, NZ citizenship certificate or international passport.

  1. Proof of partnership

You’ll need to offer proof of your partnership, including the following:

  • Partner details – including their personal details, proof of identity, and when they were appointed a business partner.
  • Proof of partnership – this can be a partnership agreement, a letter to the NZBN registrar or other acceptable proof in the form of official meeting minutes. This documentation must be signed by each partner.
  1. RealMe account

The NZBN application process is undertaken through your RealMe account. You can apply for one or log in using the link below.

Start your partner NZBN application through RealMe here.

Trusts

When registering for an NZBN as a trust, the requirements are as follows:

  1. IRD number

You’ll be required to enter the IRD number used by your business, which may be your personal IRD number.

  1. Proof of identity

You’ll need to offer proof of identity before you can receive an NZBN. You can use either a New Zealand driver’s license or NZ passport. Failing these, you can use a NZ birth certificate, NZ citizenship certificate or international passport.

  1. Proof of trust

In addition to the above, you’ll also have to offer trustee proof and information, including the following:

  • Trustee details – including their personal details, proof of identity, and when they were appointed a trustee.
  • Proof of trustee status – for this you’ll need to offer a trust deed or additional documentation listing all trustees if every trust member isn’t on the deed. This documentation must be signed by each trust member.
  1. RealMe account

The NZBN application process is undertaken through your RealMe account. You can apply for one or log in using the link below.

Start your trust NZBN application through RealMe here.

Companies

Unlike the previous three business type options, you’ll be automatically assigned an NZBN when you undertake company registration with the Companies Office. You will not have to do so manually

This completes our short guide about the New Zealand Business Number. Be sure you undertake these steps before you trade as a business in New Zealand.