What charities need to know about the New Zealand Business Number

Posted on 20 June 2018

What is a NZBN?

The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a globally unique identifier available for every business in New Zealand, including not-for-profit charities. Administered by the Companies Office of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the NZBN has been designed to save time and money by making it easier and faster for businesses to connect and transact.

How does it work?

A NZBN links to the information organisations are most often asked to share when doing business – like a phone number and legal name. People that you work with can find these details on the NZBN Register at nzbn.govt.nz(external link) meaning you won’t have to repeat the same information multiple times.

It offers certainty

Having a NZBN shows that a business is real and tangible, giving others peace of mind in dealing with you.  As a charity, having a NZBN offers those who work with you, or donate to you, certainty that you are who you say you are. In turn, you can check the details of those you work with – from a government department or local council all the way down to the firm that supplies your stationery.

It makes it easy to keep information up-to-date

Communicating with a range of businesses (including government agencies) can be difficult when everyone has different systems, but NZBN changes that, providing a universal identifier which will enable businesses to easily update and share information.

The information held on the NZBN Register can be quickly and easily updated at any time. If you make a change to your business information, others in your network can be notified, making it easy to keep up-to-date when things change. In turn, you can create a ‘watch list’ of businesses on the NZBN website, and receive an email alert any time an organisation you work with makes a change to its information.

So let's imagine a world where...

Let’s say your charity changes its phone number. Right now you’d need to tell your suppliers, your bank, your telco, Inland Revenue, Charities Services… the list goes on. With the NZBN, you’ll be able to change your information on the NZBN Register, and eventually everyone who is consuming information from the Register will be notified. Making it faster and easier to share information will mean you have more time to get on with the charitable work you got into business to do in the first place. 

NOTE: At present, you’ll still have to notify Charities Services of any changes to the information contained on the Charities Register.

How do I get a NZBN for my charity?


If you’re a legally incorporated charitable trust or society

You’ve been allocated a NZBN automatically. Search for your organisation at nzbn.govt.nz(external link) to find your NZBN.

If you’re a registered charity

If your organisation isn’t legally incorporated but is a registered charity, you still qualify for an NZBN. To get a NZBN, email support@nzbn.govt.nz with your charity’s legal name and registration number (found on the Charities Register).

If you’re an unincorporated group

Your unincorporated group may qualify for a NZBN. Contact info@nzbn.govt.nz

Charities Services and the NZBN

At the end of the year, Charities Services is adding a new field to its register to allow you to record your NZBN. In most cases, Charities Services will be able to pre-populate this field for you, and you can confirm it when you file your next annual return. If we are unable to match your data, you’ll need to enter your NZBN as part of your next annual return.

To find out more information about NZBN visit nzbn.govt.nz(external link) or call the helpline on 0508 696 926.


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