GROWING PAINS

NZ Business Numbers and the good news for SMEs

What are NZBNs?

New Zealand Business Numbers (NZBNs) are unique, universal identifiers that, since 2013, have been assigned to every company registered in this country.

What’s the news?

New legislation passed in April means that, by the end of 2016, NZBNs will be allocated to all other kinds of businesses operating in NZ, including sole traders, charitable trusts, limited partnerships and incorporated societies.

Why does this matter?

Communicating and working with other organisations is of course crucial to businesses of any shape or size, but this can be difficult when everyone has different systems. Widespread use of NZBNs by all manner of NZ businesses is anticipated to help change that.

NZBNs are expected to transform and streamline how businesses share their key information and interact with government and with each other. Other benefits include making it easier for you to invoice and pay bills, apply for credit and positively identify other businesses.

According to government estimates, the benefits for businesses from the NZBN programme, once fully implemented, will be around $60 million a year.

How does the programme work?

The NZBN Register allows businesses to update their primary business data – such as business type, registered address and directors – in one place and it will automatically update on other databases, such as those of government agencies. This means you will only need to tell government your information once. This, in turn, will help reduce the time and cost businesses spend on things like form filling and data entry, and will improve data quality and reduce duplication.

According to Economic Development Minister, Steven Joyce, it will also “speed up dealings with government agencies.”

Over time your NZBN will become the main identifier you use to interact with a range of other organisations – eventually replacing some other numbers, such as Company Registration Numbers. It will become common to use your NZBN when dealing with customers, other businesses, your accountant, banks and government agencies.

Can you give me an example?

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister, Paul Goldsmith, says: “We already have great examples of the private sector using the NZBN to improve customer processes. For instance, Air New Zealand is using the NZBN as part of the registration process for businesses signing up online for its Airpoints for Business programme.”

Are NZBNs only for use in this country?

Each NZBN is a 13 digit Global Location Number (GLN) provided by GS1 New Zealand, which can be used worldwide. Similar business identifier systems operate in other countries including Australia, Singapore, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, India and Malaysia. The NZBN and ABN (Australian Business Number) will be mutually recognised in each country.

Why is Warehouse Stationery involved in this programme?

Simply put, because the vast majority of our business customers are SMEs, Warehouse Stationery and other brands in The Warehouse Group have a vested interest in making business processes easier for them. We believe that, when fully applied, NZBNs will do just that, especially in relation to business interactions with government agencies.

So we have been supporting the development of the programme to help ensure it will provide the fullest potential benefit to SMEs in particular. And, as this article shows, we are involved in communicating the implications and advantages of NZBNs to our business customers and others. We will continue to help in these, and other, ways as the programme rolls out over this year and beyond.

Where can I go for more information?

Visit www.nzbn.govt.nz for more information on this topic.