Chapter 7

Registering a business and other admin tasks

After all the excitement of deciding to start a business, you’ll have some paperwork to do.

Person puts up a sign for their business called Sticks and Thrones.

How to register a business with the government

There are a few government departments that need to know about your business:

  • MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment): Once you’re officially in business, tell MBIE and they’ll issue you with a business number. You may be asked to quote it in your dealings with the government (and others). It will make things faster and easier.
  • IR (Inland Revenue): You may have to pay income tax and GST, so the tax office will need to know about you. They’ll provide you with a tax number. It’s not all one-way traffic, though. When your business is GST registered, you can claim back GST on business expenses.
  • ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation): As a business, you have a workplace – even if it’s your home and you’re the only worker in it. ACC provides cover for workplace accidents. You need to register and pay a levy.

You’ll have some extra formalities to complete if you choose to set your business up as a company.

How do I register a company?

If you’re setting up as a company, you need to register with the Companies Office, which is run by MBIE. This can be quite an involved process. For example you’ll need to register shareholders and directors. You may even need to provide a company constitution. Companies are required to report their activities to the Companies Office every year.

Do I need to tell any other regulators?

There may be some more to do if you’re entering a regulated industry. A caterer, for example, needs to be registered and have a food control plan – and possibly a liquor license. Speak to friends in the industry, or your industry representative body to find out if there are special requirements.

Should I trademark a business name?

You can legally protect a business name and logo to prevent others from mimicking your identity. This can be a valuable step for businesses that plan to invest a lot in making their brand widely known.

This area of the law can get complicated – especially if you expand into overseas markets and find there’s a business there with a similar name. Ask for advice from a legal professional with experience in this area.

At the very least, use trademark registries (and search engines) to check that no one already has your business name. It’s an easy way to save yourself a lot of hassle.


Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the provided content.

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