An NZBN for every business
The NZBN is for all Kiwi businesses - large or small.
To get an NZBN, you need to know what type of business you have. Some businesses and organisations are automatically assigned an NZBN, others need to apply. If you’re not sure of your business type, see if it’s described below.
Eligibility for NZBN
If you’re a sole trader, partnership or trust, you are only eligible to get an NZBN if you are currently in business in New Zealand.
You’re in business, as defined by the New Zealand Business Number Act 2016(external link), if you acquire or supply goods or services, or acquire or dispose of land (but not if you do this as a consumer, employee, or as an individual member of an unincorporated entity).
A business can be non-profit and can also be carried out free-of-charge.
Sole traders (also called self-employed) have set up their business without registering as a company. Sole traders don’t have business partners or other shareholders, but they might have staff.
Two or more people can form a business partnership, setting out how they’ll share profits, debts and work in a partnership agreement. This is a popular structure with professionals (for example, architects, lawyers and accountants).
A trust is an entity that holds money or property for the benefit of its beneficiaries or for legal purposes.
An NZBN can be issued to the trustee(s) of a trust. If you’re a trustee of more than one trust, you’ll need to get a separate NZBN for each trust.
In New Zealand, a company is a legal entity in its own right, registered with the New Zealand Companies Office. There are three types of companies, each with different areas of liability — limited liability, co-operative and unlimited companies.
Limited liability companies are a popular form of business ownership in New Zealand.
You can read more about companies on the Companies Register(external link) website.
Other business types
A number of businesses and organisations have already been automatically assigned an NZBN. Find out if yours is one of them.
If you’re still unsure of your business type, have a look at business.govt.nz(external link) for more information or talk to your accountant, bookkeeper or lawyer.
Thinking about starting a business?
You won’t need to get an NZBN if you’re only thinking about starting a business, but it would be good to find out how you can use it once your business is up and running. Having an NZBN will help you stay up-to-date, help others know who they are working with and enable you to take advantage of innovations, such as e-invoicing. There might be other benefits too, depending on your business.