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Why register for an NZBN if you're self-employed?

Registering for a New Zealand business number (NZBN) if you're self-employed has a range of benefits. It makes running your business faster and easier and shows your clients and suppliers that you're legitimate. 

In this guide, you'll learn why you should have an NZBN as a sole trader, the benefits of registering for one, and how to apply.

What is a New Zealand business number (NZBN)?

A New Zealand business number is a globally recognised, unique number that identifies your business. The Australian equivalent is an ABN – an Australian business number. An NZBN is used by a range of entities — including companies, trusts, landlords and sole traders — amongst others.

Why do you need an NZBN as a sole trader?

You don't legally need an NZBN as a sole trader, but you might want one to make identifying your business easier for you and the people or organisations you work with. Here's why you may decide to get an NZBN:

Identify your business to others 

Identifying your business to others is a primary reason to have an NZBN as a sole trader. You can put your number on invoices or quotes. Other organisations can search the NZBN register to confirm you're a real business, find your industry and check that you're still trading. This gives potential customers and suppliers more confidence in you.

Easier interactions with the government 

Easier interactions with government agencies are a major benefit of having an NZBN. Most government agencies refer to NZBNs to get the correct information for businesses they interact with. If you deal with agencies, they'll likely ask for your NZBN. Many of their systems are connected to the NZBN register. They can easily find the details of any business they deal with and automatically receive updates or changes.

That means you can update information once to notify the entire government instead of telling each agency individually. 

Your business information is more readily available 

Your business information is more readily available when you have an NZBN. Every business with an NZBN can be publicly found on the database, making it easier for potential customers to get in touch. 

What information is required on an NZBN application?

The information required on an NZBN is the up-to-date contact information for your business. This includes your name, trading name (if different), physical and registered addresses, contact phone numbers, website details and email addresses.

If applicable, you can provide Māori business information and identify as a Māori business. You can also add your Australian Business Number (ABN) if you have one.

It's important to update your details if they change, including whether you stop or pause trading.

How to apply for an NZBN as a sole trader

Applying for an NZBN as a sole trader is simple and free. Here's what to do:

Ensure you have an IRD number

Ensure you have an IRD number – you can't apply for an NZBN without one. 

Collect all information required 

Collect all required information, including your legal business name (as a sole trader, this is your name), your trading name if different, your registration status (whether your business is currently trading) and contact details. You can choose what contact information you make public and add additional details like your website.

Create a RealMe login and a MyNZBN account

Creating a RealMe login and a MyNZBN account is critical for applying. You'll need your NZ passport or driver's licence handy to verify your identity. If you don't have either of these, the application will take longer.

Complete the application process

Once you complete the application process on the NZBN website, you'll generally receive your NZBN immediately. If more information or verification is needed, your application should be processed within three working days.

Sole trader NZBN FAQ

What is the difference between an NZBN and a company number? 

The difference between an NZBN and a company number is that only companies have a company number, but any business – including a sole trader – is eligible for an NZBN.

Over time, the NZBN will replace other business identification numbers, such as the company registration number.

How much does it cost to register an NZBN?

It costs nothing to register an NZBN or to update your details and the status of your business.

What is the difference between an IRD number and an NZBN? 

The difference between an IRD number and an NZBN is that an IRD number is used for tax purposes. An NZBN number is used to identify you as a legitimate business and connect others to your contact details.

Reduce the hassle with an NZBN

Registering an NZBN as a sole trader saves you time and hassle in your day-to-day business dealings because it links to a database with all the core information people usually ask for. It also lets anyone working with you confirm that you're legitimate and operating as they expect. Applying for an NZBN is free, easy and processed instantly. 

Once you're set up and ready to streamline your business' accounting needs, try MYOB Business today.

Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is of a general nature and does not consider your personal situation. It does not constitute legal, financial, or other professional advice and should not be relied upon as a statement of law, policy or advice. You should consider whether this information is appropriate to your needs and, if necessary, seek independent advice. This information is only accurate at the time of publication. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information contained on this webpage, MYOB disclaims, to the extent permitted by law, all liability for the information contained on this webpage or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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