New Zealand is moving forward in business to government interaction. Food businesses might feel that already, given the new Food Act and its food safety requirements. They and every other business in the land should also give thought to the New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) scheme – something of potentially huge benefit in all their dealings with all government departments and Crown entities.
New Zealand Business Numbers (NZBNs) are new, unique entity identifiers that will be assigned to business entities in New Zealand with the aim of reducing time and cost in business-government interactions – and also in business-to-business transactions once NZBNs really catch on.
In fact, NZBNs have been issued already to around 550,000 registered companies in New Zealand and three core public agencies have also begun using them. The goal is for a business to be recognised by its unique identifier in every dealing with every part of government and for this number to be linked to standardised ‘primary business information’ that can be easily referenced by any agency (and by the public at large through an easy online search process).
Complete certainty on identification and universal reliance on accurate information from one authoritative source should minimise unnecessary mistakes in business identity and also stop endless duplication in information gathering. For businesses, it should save large amounts of time and cost on form filling and data entry, and speed up dealings with the likes of NZ Customs, ACC, IRD and so on.
The NZBN scheme is ‘tell government once’ information sharing. It will take just one agency to update the primary information held on a particular business for that update to automatically become the current, accurate government-wide view of that business – and to unlock the efficiencies this implies.
Such is the future vision for the NZBN, to be achieved in coming years after enactment of the New Zealand Business Number Bill which is now before Parliament. The bill extends NZBNs to all businesses – partnerships, trusts, sole traders and other forms of unincorporated business entity. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) anticipates another 550,000 or so NZBNs being issued (on top of those already held by entities on the Companies Register) in the coming months.
Eight core agencies – including MBIE, Customs, ACC and IRD – have been directed to use the NZBN as their primary identifier in whatever dealings they have with an individual business from the end of 2017.
Of course, government is much bigger than eight agencies: MBIE is now consulting with more than 180 departments and Crown entities around adopting the NZBN as primary identifier in their interaction with businesses.
Other countries adopted a standard cross-government form of business numbering years ago. Australia has the ABN, the Australian Business Number, and the future will bring trans-Tasman recognition of ABNs and NZBNs.
The New Zealand Government opted, back in 2013, to use the GS1 global numbering standard as the basis for its business identification scheme. Every NZBN is also a GS1 Global Location Number (GLN) that is globally unique and globally recognisable for use by government agencies and businesses alike.
New Zealand business entities gain that bit more inter-operability with overseas counterparts. It could also, for example, add to the confidence border control agencies in our trading partners have in Kiwi companies that ship product their way: The trader’s identity is verifiable and their basic information (address, business start date etc) available from a totally reliable source.
As with the ABN, the NZBN is destined to also become the primary means by which businesses in New Zealand identify each other digitally. And having one standardised (global) identifier for each entity has got to be a great boost in the business of doing business in all its forms in our brave new world.