Following the formal launch of the New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) at Xero in Wellington this week, the government has offered a run down of top tips and advice for companies.
The NZBN is a core initiative of the Government’s Better Public Services for business (Result 9) programme, designed to make it easier for businesses to work with government.
It is proposed that a single identifying number is assigned to all businesses, government agencies and commercial entities in New Zealand.
How will a business get a NZBN?
Registered companies have already been allocated an NZBN. We are now consulting on how and when to allocate NZBNs to the other half of all New Zealand Businesses.
Business representative groups have told us that they wanted it to be as easy as possible for businesses to get their NZBNs. We are investigating whether it is possible to allocate NZBNs to all businesses automatically.
Some businesses may want an NZBN before any automatic allocation occurs so we are looking at an application process being available for those businesses.
When will businesses be able to use their NZBN?
Businesses other than companies should receive or be able to apply for an NZBN from mid-2015. How soon businesses can use the number will depend on when government agencies and other businesses connected to your business start using it with their customers.
Do they need to do anything differently?
No. At the moment, the NZBN will not replace the ACC, IRD or any other numbers that businesses use to identify their business to various government agencies. However, work is underway to allow the NZBN to be the main identifier for businesses when working with these agencies.
Will NZBNs and my information be public?
Information available on government business registers will remain public. For example, companies’ NZBNs are published on the Companies Office Register alongside their other company information.
In the future, searches will show the NZBN issued to each business, including those not on a Companies Office register, for example sole traders, partnerships and trusts. In addition, GS1 New Zealand’s website will provide a public capability to search a GS1 database that includes government-issued NZBN as well as all GS1-issued Global Location Numbers. The Discussion Document proposes giving businesses choices about what other information is also published.
Who will have access to a business’ information?
Some information will be publicly available, like the NZBN, the industry code and a business’ general location. Government agencies that businesses deal with will receive primary business data, if they are entitled to it. This will enable businesses to update their details in one place, which will automatically update in others.
Businesses will be in control of who else has access to this information and to other business information. Businesses can choose to make information available to other government agencies or to business partners or to make it publicly available. They will be able to share the number with their customers and other businesses.
What information will be kept centrally?
One of the purposes of the NZBN is to simplify a business’ interactions with government. A business owner will only need to go to one place to update primary business data, because government agencies will all draw it from there.
It makes sense that the information that is used over and over by different government agencies is kept centrally. This will be information like the business name and contact details. Information specific to a single government agency - such as the sale and purchase details businesses provide to Inland Revenue for GST - will continue to be kept by the agency that uses it in their own systems.
What if a business wants different government agencies to have different information about its business?
Primary business data will be common across all agencies. Agencies businesses interact with will need to keep specific information about them which they will be able to use in their interactions with each business - for example, Inland Revenue will still need to have a business’ accountant’s address to send mail to.
How will a business’ information be kept secure?
Business information is valuable and sometimes private. It is important to keep it safe and accurate and this is increasingly relevant and important in a modern business environment. The legislation and the systems to administer the NZBN will be designed to address risks around the misuse of information or the accidental release of information. On-going Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) will inform this work.