If you’re new to being in business or self-employed, the tips below outline what's involved, from testing your idea to registering a trade mark.
If you’re starting a business in New Zealand or working for yourself, here are things you can do up-front that will safeguard your investment in the future.
If you have a name in mind — even if it’s your own — use our ONECheck tool to quickly see if it’s available. With one search you can see its availability as a business name, trade mark, web domain and social media username, to help you choose a name that you can market and protect.
If you’re a business or self-employed you can choose the structure that best suits you. The most common are sole trader, partnership or company. Each structure offers various benefits and considerations. Depending on which you choose, you might have to register with government in different ways. Our Choose Business Structure tool can help you make the right choice.
You may need to get a few registrations from government agencies. Several agencies use a RealMe® login. If you get a login early in the process, you can get on with your to-do list easily.
*RealMe® is a registered trademark of the New Zealand government and New Zealand Post.
The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a unique identifier for your business. Your NZBN links to the information others need in order to work with you, like a trading name, phone number or email.
Having an NZBN will make it easier to do business because you won’t have to keep repeating the same information over and over when dealing with someone new or when something changes. If you’re a company, you’ll automatically get an NZBN. Sole traders, self-employed people or partnerships can register for an NZBN online and it’s free.
Whether you’re new to being self-employed or in business, a small investment now will mean you won’t lose your ability to market and protect your name while getting other things in order. Use our ONECheck tool as your starting point.
Get a web address. Low cost, quick and easy. See the Domain Name Commission’s list of authorised registrars.
Authorised registrars (external link) — Domain Name Commission
If you decide to structure your business as a company you need to reserve your company name with the Companies Office — it’s low cost, quick and easy. You'll need a RealMe login. You must use the name to incorporate your company within 20 working days of reserving it.
Reserving company name (external link) — Companies Office
Get an initial assessment report from the Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) before you invest in applying for a registered trade mark. Do this by applying online for a search and preliminary advice (SPA) report on the IPONZ website. It’s low cost, easy and you’ll get it within five days. You can also search the trade mark register for free.
You'll need a RealMe login.
Specific regulations might apply in your industry or region. For example, fair trading, consumer guarantees, privacy, health and safety, food licensing. Look into which central and local government regulations apply to your business. Our website is a good starting point. You can also search central government regulations tailored to your industry on our Compliance Matters tool.
If you've decided to structure your business as a company then register online with the Companies Office — it’s low cost, quick and easy. You'll need a RealMe login.
Start a company (external link) — Companies Office
Register online with Inland Revenue.
You'll need to register for GST if you're earning more than NZ$60,000 each year. You can register for GST at the same time you register your company. If you don't or if you're another type of business you can do it online at ird.govt.nz (external link) . It's quick, easy and free.
GST (external link) — Inland Revenue
A registered trade mark is the best way to protect your brands in the marketplace. You can use your SPA check to begin your application online with IPONZ. It’s quite quick and easy, low cost for a high level of protection. You'll need a RealMe login, or phone IPONZ on 0508 447 669.
Trade marks (external link) — IPONZ