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How to start business New Zealand

Steps to Start a Business in New Zealand

Develop a Business Idea and Plan

  • Market Research: Understand your market, potential customers, and competitors.
  • Business Plan: Create a detailed business plan outlining your business idea, target market, financial projections, and growth strategy.

Choose a Business Structure

  • Sole Trader: Simple structure, ideal for small businesses.
  • Partnership: Suitable for businesses run by two or more people.
  • Company: A separate legal entity from its owners, providing limited liability. Most common for startups.
  • Trust: Used for managing assets and protecting family wealth.

Register Your Business

  • Choose a Name: Ensure your business name is unique and not already in use. You can check the availability on the New Zealand Companies Office website.
  • Reserve a Name: You can reserve your business name online through the Companies Office.
  • Incorporate Your Company: Register your company online with the Companies Office. This process includes providing details about directors, shareholders, and the company’s physical address.
  • Visit here to register your business

Obtain Necessary Licenses and Permits

  • Industry-Specific Licenses: Depending on your business type, you may need additional permits and licenses. Check with the local council or relevant industry body.
  • Health and Safety Compliance: Ensure you comply with health and safety regulations, especially if you have employees.

Register for Taxes

  • IRD Number: Register with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) for an IRD number.
  • GST Registration: If your annual turnover exceeds NZD 60,000, you must register for Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • PAYE: If you hire employees, register as an employer for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax.

Open a Business Bank Account

  • Corporate Bank Account: Open a business bank account to manage your finances separately from your personal funds.

Set Up Accounting and Record-Keeping

  • Accounting Software: Use accounting software to manage your financial records.
  • Bookkeeping: Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of all transactions.

Employment Regulations

  • Employment Contracts: Provide written employment agreements to all employees.
  • KiwiSaver: Enroll eligible employees in KiwiSaver, New Zealand’s retirement savings scheme.

Understand Your Responsibilities

  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Ensure you comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
  • Intellectual Property: Protect your intellectual property by registering trademarks, patents, or copyrights if necessary.

Resources for Further Guidance

Starting a startup in New Zealand is generally considered to be easy and straightforward, thanks to the country’s supportive business environment and efficient administrative processes. Here are some factors that contribute to this ease:


Ease of Registration

  • Simple Registration Process: New Zealand is known for its efficient and user-friendly business registration process. The World Bank’s Doing Business report consistently ranks New Zealand as one of the easiest countries in the world to start a business. You can register a company online in just a few hours through the Companies Office website
  • Minimal Requirements: The requirements for starting a business are minimal, with no mandatory minimum capital requirement for most business structures.

Business-Friendly Environment

  • Government Support: There are various government programs and agencies, such as New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Callaghan Innovation, that provide support, funding, and resources for startups.
  • Legal and Regulatory Framework: New Zealand’s legal and regulatory framework is transparent and straightforward, making it easier for entrepreneurs to understand and comply with the laws.

Access to Funding

  • Venture Capital and Angel Investors: There is a growing network of venture capitalists and angel investors in New Zealand who are eager to invest in innovative startups.
  • Government Grants: Various grants and funding options are available for startups, particularly those focusing on technology and innovation.

Skilled Workforce

  • Talent Pool: New Zealand has a highly educated and skilled workforce, particularly in areas such as technology, engineering, and research.

Quality of Life

  • Living Conditions: The high quality of life and attractive living conditions in New Zealand make it an appealing location for entrepreneurs and their employees.


Market Size

  • Small Domestic Market: New Zealand has a relatively small domestic market, which can be a limitation for businesses that rely on local customers. However, many startups use New Zealand as a test market before expanding internationally.

Geographical Isolation

  • Distance to Major Markets: New Zealand’s geographical isolation can make it challenging to access major global markets quickly. This can affect supply chains and logistics for certain types of businesses.

Competition for Talent

  • Limited Talent Pool: While the workforce is skilled, the limited size of the talent pool can make it competitive to attract and retain top talent, particularly in specialized fields.

Resources for Further Guidance

No, you do not have to be a citizen to start a business in New Zealand. The country welcomes foreign entrepreneurs and provides a straightforward process for them to establish businesses. Here’s what you need to know:

Key Points for Foreign Entrepreneurs

Business Structures Available to Foreigners

  • Sole Trader: Foreigners can operate as sole traders, but will need the appropriate visa.
  • Partnership: Foreigners can enter into partnerships with New Zealand residents or other foreigners.
  • Company: Foreigners can register a limited liability company, the most common structure for startups.
  • Branch or Subsidiary: Foreign companies can set up a branch or subsidiary in New Zealand.

Visa and Residency Requirements

  • Entrepreneur Work Visa: This visa is designed for people who want to work in their own business in New Zealand. It is initially granted for 12 months and can be extended to 3 years if certain conditions are met.
  • Entrepreneur Resident Visa: After operating a business in New Zealand for two years (or six months under certain conditions), you can apply for this visa to become a resident.
  • Investor Visas: For those who want to invest significant capital into the country. There are two categories: Investor 1 (for investments of NZD 10 million) and Investor 2 (for investments of NZD 3 million).

Registration Process

  • Reserve a Business Name: Check and reserve your business name through the Companies Office.
  • Register the Business: Register your company online with the Companies Office. This includes providing details about directors, shareholders, and the company’s physical address.
  • IRD Number: Register with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to get an IRD number for tax purposes.
  • GST Registration: If your turnover exceeds NZD 60,000, you must register for Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Open a Bank Account

  • Corporate Bank Account: Foreign entrepreneurs will need to open a business bank account in New Zealand. This typically requires proof of identity, business registration documents, and sometimes a visa.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

  • Employment Laws: Familiarize yourself with New Zealand’s employment laws, including worker rights and obligations.
  • Health and Safety Regulations: Ensure your business complies with local health and safety standards.

Resources for Further Guidance

Starting a business in New Zealand as a non-citizen is very feasible and the country provides a supportive environment for foreign entrepreneurs. With the appropriate visa and following the necessary legal steps, foreign nationals can successfully establish and operate businesses in New Zealand.

How to Start a Business in New Zealand.