Business numbers may be extended

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 12:30 17/07/2014

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Sole traders, trusts and partnerships will be issued with a unique code that will help them identify themselves when dealing with the Government and other businesses.

The free 13-digit "New Zealand Business Numbers" (NZBNs) were issued to all 1.1 million companies registered with the Companies Office last year.

The Government said the move would cut red tape and promote e-commerce. It had consulted separately on extending the identifiers to the similar number of sole traders, partnerships and trusts, in part because of the possible privacy implications. 

The numbers will be used by government agencies such as Inland Revenue, ACC and Customs to identify businesses. They could also help businesses more easily identify one another, for example to aid electronic invoicing.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the Government would introduce legislation if it was re-elected that would extend the numbering system to all New Zealand business entities.

All key government agencies that worked regularly with businesses would be required to recognise and use the numbers by the end of 2017, he said.

The numbers, which are based on the international barcoding system, would greatly reduce the costs of businesses interacting with government, Joyce said.

"Businesses will no longer have to keep updating their data with a myriad of different government databases, and the NZBN will enable all sorts of innovative timesaving administration solutions between businesses, their suppliers and government, giving them more time to spend on growing their business."

ManufacturingNZ executive Catherine Beard welcomed the decision to extend the use of the numbering system.

It would "help lower compliance costs for all", she said.

Xero New Zealand managing director Victoria Crone said it was "something Xero has been supporting since the beginning".

Commerce Minister Craig Foss said work was under way to ensure interoperability with a similar system of unique business identifiers in Australia.

"This work will mean customers on both sides of the Tasman will be able to search and confirm that a business is a New Zealand business," Foss said.

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