• Paul Thompson

Starting a business



If you’re considering starting or buying a business, New Zealand is an excellent choice.

We’re the easiest country in the world to do business in, according to the 2016 World Bank Doing Business survey. They also rate us the easiest place in the world to start a business.


There are few restrictions on establishing, owning and operating a business here. In fact, by using the Government's online portals, the process of reserving a name and incorporating your company can be completed in a matter of hours.


Business structures

Businesses in New Zealand generally use one of these three structures - Sole trader, Partnership, or Limited Liability.


Sole trader

A sole trader operates a business on their own. They can employ people, but the trader controls, manages and owns the business and is entitled to all profits. The trader is also personally liable for all business taxes and debts. Usually, a sole trader business can be established without any paperwork. Many New Zealand businesses start as sole traders and then move to a limited liability company structure as the business grows. Others choose to start as companies to take advantage of the protection and other benefits the structure offers.


Other start-up issues

As well as establishing the structure of your business, there are several other issues you’ll need to consider.


Sourcing market information

Obviously you’ll want to know as much as you can about the market and opportunities for your business. Statistics New Zealand has a wide range of online information tables and tools that can help.


Check local authority rules

Before setting up with premises, check with your local council. Each territorial authority has its own rules and regulations about what business activity is allowed in different areas. For instance, it is unlikely that you’d be able to run an automotive repair business in a residential area.


Set up tax numbers

Depending on the business structure you use, you will either need individual tax numbers or a company tax number. For more information visit Inland Revenue.


Get a lawyer, accountant and bank

Any New Zealand bank can help you with setting up bank accounts for business purposes, and many can also help you with transferring funds from overseas and other specialist migrants’ services. You may also want to seek legal and financial advice.


Registered New Zealand banks


New Zealand Law Society


New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants


Check your business name

Before committing to logos, signage and stationery for your new business, search the Companies Office and the Intellectual Property Office to ensure the name you want is not already protected.


More information

To learn more about starting or buying a business in New Zealand visitbusiness.govt.nz

4 views