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Being a sole trader has many benefits, including flexibility and the need to get your business up and running quickly. With time and effort, you may find your business growing and gaining more customers, clients and suppliers. Consequently, getting a New Zealand Business Number is a helpful way for your business to save time when dealing with other businesses or the government and to build credibility for your growing business.

This article explains what a New Zealand Business Number is, why you might want one as a sole trader, and the process for applying for one.

What Is a New Zealand Business Number?

A New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a unique identifier for New Zealand businesses. As of 2016, all businesses (from self-employed sole traders to the largest corporations) can register for an NZBN. This system aims to make it easier to do business. Likewise, having an NZBN can help you make connections between businesses (or between a business and government agencies, which can also have New Zealand Business Numbers).

Why Get an NZBN?

A New Zealand Business Number links to your core business information, called Primary Business Data. This includes things such as your:

  • business name;
  • phone number;
  • email; and
  • other information. 

The benefit of this is that anyone you do business or interact with (whether suppliers or clients) can quickly access all the details they need about your business online. Consequently, they are more likely to work with you, and it is easier to do so. Having an NZBN means that your business becomes part of a searchable database of almost all New Zealand businesses.

Another time-saving benefit of having an NZBN is that you can skip on repetitive paperwork for your business. Many online forms connect with the New Zealand Business Number database. Therefore, if you enter your number, the database will automatically populate fields with all the information from your business.

Getting an NZBN

As a sole trader, it is easy for you to apply for a New Zealand Business Number. You need the following information on hand when you go to apply:

  • the IRD number you use for the business (this is often your personal IRD number). The purpose of this is to check that there is no associated NZBN for you already; 
  • proof of identity for verification purposes. There is instant verification if you have:
    • a New Zealand driver licence; or 
    • a New Zealand passport;
  • if you do not have a New Zealand driver licence or passport, you can upload details from one of these documents:
    • a New Zealand birth certificate;
    • a New Zealand citizenship certificate; or 
    • an overseas passport.

Tip: make sure that the name on your application matches the name on the proof of identity you are providing for instant verification.

Once your identity has been verified, you will receive a New Zealand Business Number, and you can start using it straight away. This process is usually very quick, typically less than three working days.

If you have the above information and apply now, you can click this link and follow the steps.

Key Takeaways

As a sole trader, it is a good idea to apply for a New Zealand Business Number early on in your business’ growth. The process for doing so is quick and easy, only requiring you to have your IRD number on hand along with a New Zealand driver licence or passport. The benefits for your business include:

  • additional credibility for your business with possible clients and suppliers;
  • an easier and more straightforward system of exchanging key details; and 
  • an easier way to fill out paperwork online for your business.

If you want to know more about New Zealand Business Numbers and other aspects about being a sole trader, contact LegalVision’s New Zealand business lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a sole trader?

A sole trader is a way of structuring a business that is simple and quick, without needing to set up as a company. Sole traders are entitled to any profits and are liable for any debts from the business.

What is a New Zealand Business Number?

A New Zealand Business Number is a unique identifier for businesses. Having an NZBN adds your business to a searchable register. This makes it easier for yourself (and other businesses) to access core business information (called Primary Business Data) such as your business name, phone number, email and other information. 

Should sole traders have New Zealand Business Numbers?

Yes, sole traders should have New Zealand Business Numbers. They are easy to apply for, help build a business’ credibility, and make doing business easier. 

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