All businesses can operate, provided they can meet the rules to operate safely. Businesses are still required to display the official QR codes for the NZ COVID Tracer app at all alert levels.
For more information, check out the business.govt.nz page for Workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels
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:
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.
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.
When a company is registered in New Zealand it automatically gets an NZBN.
You or your accountant can get your NZBN on the NZBN website. You’ll need:
Get a RealMe login(external link) — RealMe
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:
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.
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.
Register online through myIR.
Register for GST(external link) — Inland Revenue
Find your BIC code(external link) — Business Industry Classification Code website
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
Find out about Registering as an employer(external link) on the Inland Revenue website.
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. You may want to inform ACC of the type of business you will be in to ensure your levy is calculated correctly.
Your first levy invoice will arrive after the end of your first year in business. After that, you’ll be invoiced once a year, usually in July or August.
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:
How to start a company(external link) — Companies Office
RealMe(external link) — Department of Internal Affairs
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:
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 trade mark of the New Zealand government and New Zealand Post.
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.