Applying for an NZBN
If you’re self-employed (a sole trader), a partnership or trust, and you're currently in business in New Zealand, you're eligible to apply for an NZBN. A business can be non-profit and can also be carried out free-of-charge.
What qualifies as a business?
You’re in business, as defined by the New Zealand Business Number Act 2016, 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).
Your business may already have an NZBN
If your business or organisation is registered with the Companies Office, you’ll likely already have an NZBN. Learn more about NZBNs for Companies and other organisations.
Many other businesses have already applied for an NZBN. Start by checking to see if you already have one. If you don’t have an NZBN, you can apply to get one.
Applying for your NZBN
You can get an NZBN for your own business, or on behalf of a business you have authority to act for (for example, as a business’ accountant or bookkeeper). To do this you will need to know the business type.
Most NZBN applications will be processed instantly if you can provide either your New Zealand driver licence or passport. If you don’t have either of these, or you’re applying for a partnership or trust, you’ll need to supply some additional information. These applications are processed within 3 working days.
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.
If you need help identifying your business type
If you’re still unsure of your business type, have a look at business.govt.nz for more information(external link) 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 eInvoicing. There might be other benefits too, depending on your business. Learn more about using the NZBN