New Zealand Business Numbers Assigned to Companies

In December 2013 all companies registered on the New Zealand Companies Office were allocated NEW ZEALAND BUSINESS NUMBERS (NZBN).

In December 2013 all companies registered on the New Zealand Companies Office were allocated NEW ZEALAND BUSINESS NUMBERS (NZBN).

What is a New Zealand Business Number?
The NZBN is a major initiative at the centre of the Better Public Services programme, which has committed to decreasing the cost of doing business with the government by 25 per cent by 2017.

Businesses have been advocating for a more streamlined approach to connecting businesses and government and the implementation of this unique identifier is similar to other systems used in developed countries, including Australia and Singapore.  It is intended that key business data about each business be attached to the NZBN, some of which will be public. The NZBN will make the core information about a business available in one place, for example, a business’s contact details.

The NZBN is a 13-digit number which uniquely identifies your company and the location of your company, structured as follows:

NZ Bus Num

The first two digits will always be 94 to represent the NZBN is for a New Zealand entity.
The NZBN is able to be viewed from the company details page of every company and can be found by performing a routine on-line search.

This is the first step towards allocating a NZBN to all types of New Zealand businesses including partnerships, trusts, sole traders etc creating a single searchable public register of businesses. This will enable government to provide more reliable and unified services, saving businesses time and enabling better e-commerce between businesses.

It is hoped that the NZBN will mean less administration time spent on government interactions, because businesses details will be available through a single search via Companies Office.

Do you need to do anything differently?
No, at this stage the NZBN will not replace any other numbers that you are currently using to identify your business to various government agencies, eg ACC or IRD numbers. However, it is expected that the NZBN will be the main identifier for businesses in the future.

What are the advantages for you?
The intention is that the NZBN will mean businesses spend less time and effort on filling in government forms and correspondence and more time and effort on business.

For anyone who has suffered the frustration that comes with filling in the same information on numerous government forms this has to be good news. Similarly if you've had to front up anywhere with your Companies Office certificate to prove your business’s identity, this should be welcome relief.

It will be simpler for you to invoice and pay bills, apply for credit and positively identify other businesses. You will be able to use the NZBN when dealing with other businesses, customers and your accountant.

A future possibility is that the NZBN will allow businesses to amend their particulars in one place, which will then update in others automatically.

At a launch in the Wellington headquarters of cloud accounting software firm Xero, the consultation document issued by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said “The vision for the NZBN is that it allows businesses to focus on business, not administration." The NZBN would also help to create trusting links between businesses, which would in turn increase business opportunities by allowing businesses to deal accurately and safely with one another, suggested Xero founder Rod Drury.

Will this mean sharing your personal information with anyone if you are a company director?
No. Ministry of Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will not be sharing any of your personal information that isn’t already publicly available on the Companies Office website.

What other Government agencies have committed to use the NZBN?
At this stage, eight agencies have signed up to use the NZBN; MBIE, ACC, Inland Revenue, Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand Customs Service, NZ Trade and Enterprise, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Callaghan Innovation.

Each agency will inform businesses on when and how to begin using NZBN’s for their business-to-government interactions. As time progresses, it is expected that more agencies will follow.

Author: Gaylene Dobson