New Zealand
A checklist to setting up a business in NZ
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Pursuing your passion and starting a business can be one of the most rewarding things you do, both personally and professionally. Not only will you be doing something you love, but you'll also be motivated to put in the hard work necessary to make your business successful. Whether you are setting up an apparel, skincare or electronics business in New Zealand, it will be an exciting endeavour for you in the years to come. 

With careful planning and execution, you can turn your own small business into a thriving enterprise in NZ. But what exactly do you need to do to get started? If you're ready to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, learn how to start a company in New Zealand as a foreigner in this blog.  

A checklist for starting a small business in NZ

1. Get a visa

Before you proceed with the company corporation process in New Zealand, you will need to first apply for either the resident visa or entrepreneur work visa. Your choice would depend on whether you are planning to live in New Zealand.

If yes, the resident visa will offer a great opportunity for you to relocate to New Zealand. This visa allows you to live and work here indefinitely. To qualify for the two-year visa, you will need to be self-employed in NZ for a minimum of six months, or have ran a business for two years on a separate visa that permits self employment. You can still apply even if you have been self-employed for less than two years, provided you meet the following criteria: 

  • Have the entrepreneur work visa

  • Your business has invested NZ$500,000 of funds

  • Provided at least three permanent jobs in New Zealand

If you are not planning to settle down in New Zealand, the entrepreneur work visa will allow you to start a business without having to live here permanently. Bear in mind that you’ll need to present a comprehensive business plan, have at least NZ$100,000 worth of working capital and be able to claim 120 points with the Immigration New Zealand (INZ). The entrepreneur work visa allows you to work in your New Zealand-based business for up to three years as a whole. However, do note that you may not be eligible for this visa if you have been involved in bankruptcy, business failure or fraud.

2. Verify the availability of your business name

Once you have your visa, the next step is to check that your desired business name is not already in use by another company. While you want your business name to be unique and memorable, it is also crucial to make sure that it does not share similarities with another in New Zealand. That way, you can avoid any potential legal issues down the road. 

As such, a quick search via ONECheck can confirm its availability. If it is available, you can proceed to create a RealMe® login and an online services account with the Companies Register to reserve the name. Note that there is a payment of NZ$10 for name reservation. Your request may be approved in the next two hours, after which the name will be reserved for twenty days. During this time, you will need to complete the rest of your company incorporation.

That being said, you can still reserve your selected name for another twenty days at an extra NZ$10.

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3. Decide on a business structure

When setting up a company in New Zealand, you will also need to choose a business structure. The structure you go for will depend on a number of factors, including the size and nature of your business, financial situation, and personal preferences. The most common business structures consist of:

  • Sole traders: This type of business is owned and operated by one person. As it is simple and cheap to start a business as a sole trader, this business structure is also the most utilised. However, do note that you will be solely liable for the operations of your business. This means that your personal assets may be at stake if something crops up in your business. 

  • Partnerships: Where there are two parties or more working together in the business, a partnership is ideal to share ownership. However, it is crucial that each partner is aware that they will be responsible for profits, losses and any debts incurred. 

  • Limited liability companies: A company will be a separate legal entity from its directors and shareholders. This type of business structure usually ends with Limited, Ltd or Tapui in its name. In a company, your liability will depend on the amount of shares owned in the company. It is also easier for a company to obtain funding required to kickstart operations. However, it can be a complicated process to do business as a company in terms of annual compliance requirements.  

4. Prepare the necessary documents

With a suitable name reserved, there are also a few important documents you will need in order to incorporate your company successfully. As mentioned, you will have the next twenty days to get ready the below information:

  • Contact details of your company: Email address and location of your registered office, service and correspondence

  • Inland revenue number

  • Goods and services tax (GST) number for tax registration

  • Signed consent forms from your directors and shareholders if applicable

  • Details of your Ultimate Holding Company (UHC)

  • A copy of your company constitution that lists out the rules on how your organisation will be governed

With that, you may complete your application online via the Companies Register. Expect to receive a Certificate of Incorporation if your registration is approved. Moving forward, you can set up your business at ease.

Focus on other aspects of your business

Especially in the early stages of your business, along with finding the best ways to finance your business, having a reliable delivery partner will be essential to your success. Once you have set up your company in New Zealand, a reputable logistics company can take your business far when it comes to fulfilling customer orders worldwide. If your buyers don't receive their orders on time, they're likely to take their business elsewhere. 

As such, a delivery partner that consistently meets your customers' expectations can help you build a loyal consumer base and grow your business. Start by opening an account with DHL Express today!