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Registering with government agencies

If you’ve started a business or become self-employed, you’ll need to register with a number of government agencies to use their services and meet legal and tax obligations. Here’s what you need to know and do.

RealMe® is a secure login service that uses the same username and password for a range of online government services, including:

  • checking if a jobseeker can legally work in New Zealand
  • filing a Companies Office annual return
  • registering a trade mark.

You’ll still need a separate login for Inland Revenue’s online service myIR. 

Where to use RealMe (external link) — Department of Internal Affairs

*RealMe® is a registered trademark of the New Zealand government and New Zealand Post.

New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)

The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a unique identifier, which any business in New Zealand can have. Over time, the NZBN will become the main identifier for all businesses.

The NZBN will transform how businesses work with each other and with government. Using it will speed up your interactions with government, suppliers, customers and other businesses. Your NZBN lets businesses you buy from or sell to get your details quickly and accurately, eg for invoicing or placing orders.

To find out more about the NZBN watch the following video.

Companies

When a company is registered in New Zealand it automatically gets an NZBN.

Sole traders, partnerships and trusts

You or your accountant can get your NZBN on the NZBN website. You’ll need:

  • a RealMe login 
  • an IRD number of the sole trader, partnership or trust you’re registering for an NZBN.
  • basic details that vary according to your business structure. Visit the NZBN website to find out what information you need.

Register for an NZBN (external link) — NZBN

Get a RealMe login (external link) — RealMe

Case study face oils 200

Case study

Making business easier

Anna is a sole trader who sells face oils. She recently won a contract to supply a large retailer. To make life easier, she registers for a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN). She fills in her postal address, phone number, mobile number and website, and makes this information publicly available. 

When she deals with the retailer, Anna quotes her NZBN. It means the retailer can instantly bring up her details — making transactions, eg invoicing and checking stock levels, quick and efficient.

And because her number is unique to her, she doesn’t have to worry about being confused with the retailer’s other boutique beauty brands.

The easiest way to interact with Inland Revenue is to set up an online myIR account. This allows you to:

  • keep your personal and business details up to date
  • check your tax, KiwiSaver and other Inland Revenue accounts
  • work out your income tax return filing requirements
  • file business returns, including employer returns and GST
  • work out tax payment options.

Tax

How your income is taxed will depend on the business structure you choose — sole trader, partnership or company. See our tips on choosing which is right for you, including a video on business structures.

Sole trader

Partnerships

Companies

  • A company will need its own IRD number.
  • Apply for your company IRD number through the Companies Office when you register your company.

Choosing your business structure (external link) — Inland Revenue

GST

You need to register for GST if your turnover was more than $60,000 in the last 12 months, or if you think you’ll earn more than $60,000 in the next 12 months. You can register voluntarily if you or your business earns $60,000 or less a year — but you’ll have to complete regular GST returns.

Once registered, you can manage and pay GST online using myGST, a new section of Inland Revenue’s myIR service.

How to register

Register online through myIR.

You’ll need:

  • an IRD number
  • a business industry classification (BIC) code

Register for GST (external link) — Inland Revenue

Find your BIC code (external link) — Business Industry Classification Code website

Becoming an employer

When you start employing staff, or contractors who receive schedular payments, you must register as an employer with Inland Revenue — even if you employ your spouse or partner.

You’ll also be asked if you need to register for fringe benefit tax (FBT) and the employer superannuation contribution tax (ESCT).

Are you an employer (external link) — Inland Revenue

Contractors receiving schedular payments (external link) — Inland Revenue

Register for myIR (external link) — Inland Revenue

If you want to recruit staff, eg permanent, fixed-term or casual employees, you may need to register as an employer with Inland Revenue

If you want to recruit staff, eg permanent, fixed-term or casual employees, you may need to register as an employer with Inland Revenue

Find out about Registering as an employer (external link) on the Inland Revenue website.

You don’t need to register with ACC — Inland Revenue forwards your income figures to ACC, which calculates if you need to pay ACC levies, and how much you’ll need to pay.

Your first levy invoice will usually arrive after the end of your first year in business. After that, you’ll be invoiced once a year, usually in July for businesses or August for the self-employed.

Setting up a company

If you decide to set up a limited liability company — rather than operate as a sole trader or partnership — you must reserve the company name and apply to be listed on the Companies Register.

To apply for registration, you’ll need a RealMe login to access the Companies Office website where you can:

  • search the Companies Register to see if your business name is available
  • reserve your company name
  • register your company
  • file annual returns setting out contact details for the company and its directors.

How to start a company (external link)  — Companies Office

RealMe (external link) — Department of Internal Affairs

casestudy making contact

How to file your Companies Office annual return

Every company in New Zealand must file an annual return with the Companies Office each year to confirm it’s still operating as a company. If you don’t file your annual return each year, your company risks being removed from the national Companies Register.

Companies Register — Companies Office

An annual return is not a tax return. It includes:

  • the company’s address(es)
  • names and addresses of its directors and shareholders
  • details of its ultimate holding company, if applicable
  • general filing information, eg the month the company files its annual return every year.

Annual returns (external link) — Companies Office

There’s a $41.40 fee to file an annual return. You can file online on the Companies Office website. If you haven’t done this before, you’ll need a RealMe® login to register for a Companies Office account.

File your annual return online (external link) — Companies Office

RealMe (external link) — Department of Internal Affairs

*RealMe® is a registered trademark of the New Zealand government and New Zealand Post.

Intellectual property

For businesses at any stage — including if you’re self-employed — it’s important to protect your intellectual property (IP), eg your logo, brand or inventions.

You can register the following on the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) website:

Some types of IP are best protected by being kept secret. Use our checklist to identify your IP assets and find simple ways to protect them.

Intellectual property checklist [PDF 92KB] [PDF, 92 KB]

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