A business name can be said to be the most important part of New Zealand company registration since it will be the first impression that people have of your newly incorporated company. Therefore, it is important to pick a name that is simple yet memorable so that customers will have a lasting impression of your name and by extension your company and brand as a whole. In addition, it is also important to register business name in NZ that meets the criteria to be approved so that you will not experience any delays when you register company in New Zealand. Each re-application will also require you to repay the fee of NZ$10 (US$7.20), excluding value-added tax. Let Tetra Consultants bring you through the 3 things you need to know before you register business name in NZ so that you may enjoy a seamless New Zealand company registration experience.
What to know before you register business name in NZ:
What is your chosen business structure and the associated requirements for your business name?
There are a few types of business entities available to you. Each business entity comes with different naming requirements. Ultimately, the business entity that you choose should be based on the appropriate level of liability protection, control, and tax and reporting obligations for your business needs and activities.
#1 Sole traders and partnerships
- As a sole trader or partnership, you will not need a business name since there is no central register for them. However, this does not stop you from using a trading name to conduct business. Using a trading name will make your business more recognisable and memorable for your customers, facilitating your business transactions. However, do take note that official company documents must be addressed to the original owner or business name. This is also beneficial for sole traders who run two businesses since it allows both their businesses to have a unique name and identity, whilst preventing confusion between the two.
- Much like sole traders and proprietorships, companies are also allowed to have a trading name. The usefulness of this trading name will be explained in a later section. Companies are also required to have a suffix at the end of their name that allows customers and suppliers to easily determine the kind of company they are operating. These suffixes include unlimited, limited, LTD or tapui (limited).
#3 Foreign offices
- The name of your foreign office must be identical to the registered name of its foreign parent company. This is because your foreign office is not considered to be an independent entity, but rather an extension of your parent company’s legal personality. Therefore, the name should be such that people dealing with your foreign office are aware that they are actually dealing with your parent company.
General requirements for all names
- Each name must be uniquely tagged to a company registration number. Names that are “identical or almost identical” will be rejected so as to prevent confusion between your proposed company and the company in question.
- When deciding if a name is identical or almost identical, the Companies Office will take into account both the name in entirety, as well as the order of the words. Such names are defined as names that only have different suffixes (changing limited to LTD, for example) or changing the word into plural form.
- Therefore, it might be a good idea for you to make your name as specific as possible by adding a location, year, or number to your business name since this is considered as an adequate criterion to be not “almost identical” by the Companies Office. However, numbers and symbols will only be accepted if they are used in an appropriate context such as a year or numerical marker.
- Additionally, macrons may only be used if they are part of the official New Zealand Geographic Board naming protocols for locations, or part of a Māori name.
- Your proposed name must also not be offensive, vulgar, or unlawful. This means that your chosen name should not contain any profanities or references to illegal and hateful remarks.
- With reference to Part 1 of the Fair Trading Act 1986, misleading and deceptive conduct is not acceptable. Therefore, your business name must clearly represent the activities that you are doing and should not aim to mislead or confuse customers.
- Certain words might also be restricted and require additional approval from governmental agencies before they can be used. Such words are technical terms for licensed businesses and work alongside the above-mentioned point to ensure that business owners are not able to mislead or deceive customers into thinking their company provides a licensed service when it is not licensed.
- For example, words like “bank”, “banker” or “universities” require additional approval or licenses from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Ministry of Education respectively before they can be legally used in your company name.
How to reserve business name
- Once you have decided on a few prospective names, you can use the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment’s ONECheck service to check the availability of the name. This will also help you if you subsequently want to trademark your company’s name since it provides additional information and guidance on how to go about trademarking your business name or logo. Each reservation will cost NZ$10 (US$7.20) and the process is expected to take two business hours or by the next business day if it is submitted after office hours. The name will then be reserved for 20 days.
How to change your company name?
- Sometimes, your initial name might not be a good fit for your company, or you might need to change it due to intellectual property issues. You can go about changing your company name through the same online portal. To do this, you would first have to reserve the new name for your company. You would also need to conform to any procedures set out in the company constitution for the changing of name, if applicable.
- For those who are seeking to do a rebranding instead, it might be easier to use a trading name for your company. This is an unofficial name that your customers would know you by but does not change your company’s name in the Registry. This minimizes the need for you to reissue any documents that should contain your original registered company name.
How can Tetra Consultants assist you to register business name in NZ?
We offer a full suite of services to make New Zealand company registration as smooth a process as possible. This includes doing a name check for your proposed name and advising you on what would be an appropriate name. With our wealth of experience, you can rest assured that our team will be able to suggest a memorable and catchy name to represent your new company. This will help to minimize any delays in approval of the names and ensure that your company is well-remembered by your customers.