Register your business name.


14th March, 2018

How to register your business

Learn how to register your business in the time that it takes to check the mailbox.

From registering your business name to getting an ABN and understanding trademarking, this article will show you how registering your business can be as simple as going to check the mailbox.

We’ve compiled all the important stuff in this three-minute read so you don’t have to waste time sorting out the junk mail.

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.

This means completing a few quick application processes that lets the government know that you’re operating a legal business in the country.

Here’s what you need to know and do.

Getting a RealMe® Account

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 can create a RealMe® account online in about 10 minutes by going to the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs website.

Obtaining an IRD number

The way you obtain your IRD number will depend on your chose business structure.

  • Sole Traders: You can use your individual IRD number as a sole trader, if you don’t already have one you will need to fill out the IR595 form
  • Partnerships: A partnership must have its own IRD number. If your partnership doesn’t have an IRD number, apply by filling out an IRD number application (IR596 form)
  • Companies: A company will need its own IRD number which you can apply for through the Companies Office when you register your company

You won’t be able to manage tax details through your RealMe account so you’ll need to create a separate login for Inland Revenue’s online service myIR. 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

Getting your New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)

The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a unique identifier, which any business in New Zealand can have. The NZBN will eventually become the main identifier for all businesses – similar to Australia’s ABNs.

The NZBN 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.

Companies get their NZBNs automatically when they register in New Zealand.

For sole traders, partnerships and trusts, you (or your accountant) can obtain your NZBN via the NZBN website. To do this, you’ll need a RealMe login, an IRD number of the sole trader, partnership or trust you’re registering for an NZBN and other basic details that vary according to your business structure.

Reserving a company name

If you’ve decided to set up a limited liability company, you must reserve your company name and apply to be listed as part of your incorporation process with the Companies Office.

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
  • Apply to reserve your company name
  • Register your company
  • File annual returns setting out contact details for the company and its directors

Intellectual Property for New Zealand businesses

Whether you’re a sole trader or a registered company, it’s crucial to protect your intellectual property (IP).

Trademarking is perhaps the most well-known form of IP, it’s about registering your brand to protect your business’ identity.This usually comes in the form of a brand name, but can also include other unique brand elements, such as logos and slogans.

There are several benefits to trademarking your brand, one of which is legal security. For example, if copycat businesses negatively affect your business’ reputation or income, you’ll have some options to pursue to protect your business.

Before you decide whether trademarking is right for you and your business, read the five common mistakes people make when trademarking.

Trademarking is just one type of intellectual property that you are able to protect through the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ). . Other common forms are:

You can register all of these types of IP on the relevant IPONZ links listed above.

Top 3 takeaways:

  1. Registering your business is about making your business identifiable to the government and the community.
  2. Registering a business involves creating a RealMe® account and myIR account, applying for an IRD and NZBN number and, in some cases, reserving a company name.
  3. Consider trademarking your brand or applying for patents or copyright, if they are relevant to your business.

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