Business Numbers – What they Mean for You

What is a New Zealand Business Number?

  • The New Zealand Business Number Act 2016 was enacted on 15 April 2016, and most of it came into force in mid-May.
  • A New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a unique a 13 digit Global Location Number (GLN) assigned to businesses and other entities in New Zealand and usable worldwide. Use of NZBNs is expected to transform how businesses share key information and interact with Government and with each other.
  • Each NZBN is a 13 digit  Global Location Number (GLN).

What is the benefit of NZBNs to business?

  • According to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce:
    • “NZBNs are a key initiative of the Government’s Better for Business programme. They are a unique identifiers that reduce the time and energy businesses spend providing government the same information in different ways.”
    • “A change to NZBN information will, over time, change the same information on other databases held by government. Ultimately businesses will only need to tell government their information once.”
    • “For businesses it will save time and cost through reduced form filling and data entry processes, and speed up dealings with government agencies.
  • Once fully implemented, the annual benefits for businesses from the NZBN Programme have been estimated to be around $60 million.
  • In time NZBNs are expected to become the main identifier for businesses to share key information with Government Departments (but will not replace all identifiers across Government – for example, GST or ACC numbers) and other businesses. Ultimately, a change to NZBN information (primary business data) will change the same information on other databases held by Government.
  • NZBNs are intended to enable integrated services between Government agencies and the creation of innovative private sector services. NZBNs make consistent identification of an individual business possible, making it possible to build a common language between software systems as a basis to deliver new services. For example, software suppliers may use NZBNs to design and deliver services to manage more efficiently the information businesses provide to Government agencies, suppliers and customers.
  • In time, the NZBN should make it easier for businesses to invoice and pay bills, apply for credit, and positively identify other businesses.
  • It will become more common to use an NZBN when dealing with customers, other businesses, professionals, banks and Government agencies.

FAQ’s about NZBNs

  • The NZBN Register pulls together publicly available information from a variety of sources, and currently contains information relating to all companies registered in New Zealand (over time, the NZBN will replace the Company Registration Number).
  • By 2017 all businesses in New Zealand should be able to have NZBNs, including State Sector entities, partnerships, limited partnerships, incorporated societies, charitable trusts, and unincorporated entities including sole traders.
  • In future, eligible businesses and entities will be able to update NZBN information in one place and it will automatically update across all those source databases.
  • There is no cost to register on the NZBN as a sole trader.
  • Government agencies will gradually use NZBNs to improve data quality and reduce duplication. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment along with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Callaghan Innovation and Statistics New Zealand have already started using NZBNs, and other key agencies working regularly with businesses will be required to recognise NZBNs by the end of 2017.
  • The NZBN system should transform and streamline how businesses share key information and interact with each other.
  • Eventually an eligible business or entity will be able to use their NZBN as their main identifier and to share key information with Government agencies, making it possible for NZBN entities and Government agencies to link information in a secure way.
  • The NZBN system will enable innovative time-saving administrative solutions between businesses, their suppliers and government. Consistent identification of each NZBN entity should facilitate building a common language between software systems.
  • This should all reduce time spent on administration and reduce compliance costs.
  • In time, the New Zealand Business Number should make it easier for people to find businesses, easier for businesses to do business in Australia, and cheaper for businesses to interact with Government.

Why the NZBN?

  • New Zealand businesses have been requesting a universal identifier for many years, and similar business identifier systems exist in other countries such as Australia, Singapore, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, India and Malaysia.
  • The NZBN and ABN (Australian Business Number) will be mutually recognised in each country.
  • Options for unique identifiers considered included the IRD number and other international number systems. GLNs were chosen because they are globally unique and part of a credible international system, with strong links to trade and supply chain logistics (other number systems had drawbacks, including larger compliance costs, or privacy, legislative or sovereignty issues).
  • For examples of how the NZBN is being used see NZBN Case Studies.