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Start-up checklist

Are you ready to turn your business idea into reality? Start your business the right way by understanding and completing all of your business registration requirements. Here are some of the things you'll need to do to make this happen.

1. Set up your business

Once you've completed a business plan and financial plan and are confident your business idea could be successful, you'll need to choose a business structure. This will impact how tax, liability and ownership rules apply to you.

Once you've done this, make sure someone else isn't running a business with the same name you're thinking of using - run a business name check first. Searching ONECheck will show any business with the same or similar names, as well as checking if the business name is available to register for a domain name and trade mark, and what social media names are in use.

You'll then need to:

Please note that reserving your company name with the Companies Office does not automatically give you trade mark rights. If you want exclusive rights to use the name in New Zealand register the name as a trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ).

2. IRD Number

All businesses need an IRD number. If you're a sole trader or a partner in a partnership you can use your individual (personal) IRD number, but if you're running a partnership, company or trust-based business, you'll need to get a separate business IRD number.

3. Goods and Services Tax (GST)

If you expect your business will have an annual turnover above $60,000, you'll need to register for GST. It's a tax of 15% applied to most goods, services and items sold in New Zealand. Alternatively, you can choose to voluntarily register, even if your annual turnover is below $60,000.

The New Zealand Government website offers a range of guides and information to help you become familiar with New Zealand's tax laws. We also recommend that you talk to your accountant or tax advisor for tax advice for your business.

4. Business licences and permits

Depending on what type of business you run and where you run it from, you may need a licence, permit, registration or certificate. It's also a good idea to check with your local council to see if you need to lodge a development application or building application before your business can start.

5. Separate your business finances

Once you've set up your business, consider separating your business and personal accounts. This can help you keep track of business-related expenses (especially at tax time) as well as manage your cash flow.

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