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  Starting a Business in New Zealand  |  Exporting from New Zealand  |  Importing to New Zealand  |  Tax Advantages
  Residence Catagories for Business People
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Starting a Business in New Zealand

New Zealand is considered one of the most business-friendly countries in the world. The World Bank’s 2010 Doing Business survey ranks New Zealand as the easiest place in the world to start a business, and the second easiest country in which to do business. We’re also in the top five for ease of getting credit, registering property and dealing with construction permits.

New Zealand’s efficient, market-driven and highly competitive economy is one of the least regulated and most open in the world. It’s also backed by a sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure and an efficient and extensive transport network. Whether you’re wanting to export or import, manufacture products or sell a service, the New Zealand Government makes it as easy as possible for you to go about your business.

On top of all this, at the end of the day, you also get to leave work and enjoy the unsurpassed lifestyle New Zealand has to offer.

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Exporting from New Zealand

New Zealand is at the forefront of the international free trade movement, and we have preferential access to many large overseas markets as a result of the many free trade and economic co-operation agreements we have negotiated. New Zealand is also a committed and active participant in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). We’re also the first developed country to have successfully negotiated a free trade deal with China, and in 2010 we became the first country to start negotiating a free trade agreement with Russia.

New Zealand’s free trade and economic co-operation agreements include:

New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (NZ-China FTA) – 2008

Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relationship (CER) - 1983

ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) with Australia, Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Phillippines and Vietnam.

New Zealand-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (MNZFTA) 2010

New Zealand-Hong Kong, China Closer Economic Partnership (NZ-HK CEP) signed on 29 March 2010.

New Zealand-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership (NZTCEP) 2005

New Zealand-Singapore Closer Economic Partnership New Zealand-Singapore Closer Economic Partnership (NZSCEP)

Other agreements currently under negotiation include the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, New Zealand-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Agreement, expansion of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership with Brunei, Chile and Singapore; the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the New Zealand-India Free Trade Agreement.

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Importing to New Zealand

New Zealand has one of the lowest tariff profiles in the developed world. Most imported goods enter New Zealand duty-free.  Fifty-eight per cent of tariff lines are free of import tariffs, including many raw materials. Import tariffs of 5 per cent apply to textiles and a range of other products imported from overseas that are also made in New Zealand, including processed foods, machinery, steel, and plastic products. Tariffs of 10 per cent apply mainly to clothing, footwear, and carpet.

Tax advantages

New Zealand has a progressive, flexible tax system which offers many incentives and tax deductible expenses to businesses. As well as offering low personal tax rates, New Zealand has:

  • No capital gains tax, other than for shares trading (unlike Australia, Canada and the UK)

  • No land tax (unlike Hong Kong, most Australian states and some US states)

  • No stamp duty (unlike many Australian states), and no other financial transaction or “stock transfer” taxes

  • No inheritance tax or “death duty” (unlike the United Kingdom, Ireland, many European countries and some US states)

  • No wealth duty (unlike France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway and India)

  • No local or state taxes other than property rates.

For those moving to New Zealand, there are additional incentives: immigrants don’t have to pay tax on any foreign income other than employment income for four years. Transitional resident rules and New Zealand’s trust taxation rules are also favourable for immigrants.

New Zealand has comparatively low personal tax rates. The corporate income tax rate was reduced from 33% to 30% in 2008 and will be further reduced to 28% on 1 October 2010.

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Residence Categories for Business People

If you are an entrepreneur looking for a way to secure New Zealand permanent residence, the Entrepreneur and Entrepreneur Plus immigration categories are well worth considering.

Entrepreneurs can secure New Zealand permanent residence by starting or taking over a business venture or investing a minimum of only 25% in an existing business in New Zealand. The route to residence is initially started via a Long Term Business Visa (LTBV) which is valid for 3 years.

You do not need to actually purchase a business in order to apply for an LTBV, but rather only propose to purchase a business.

Once your LTBV has been secured, your funds can then be transferred into the business in New Zealand and you may then either

  • grow your business and apply for permanent residence after 2 years under the Entrepreneur Category (which has no minimum investment amount);


  • apply immediately for permanent residence under the Entrepreneur Plus Category if you invest NZ$0.5 million in your business and employ 3 New Zealanders in it.

Whichever route is selected, once you secure an LTBV you will need to be involved in the day-to-day running of your business and also demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family in New Zealand for 3 years, over-and-above your business investment.

To secure an LTBV, you’ll need to prepare a detailed business plan that meets immigration requirements for a business proposal, have business experience relevant to your proposed business, show a sound knowledge of the New Zealand business environment and market, and meet English (a minimum IELTS score of 4.0 is required), health and character requirements.

Contact us for advice on gaining permanent residence for you and your family by investing in or establishing a business in New Zealand. The LTBV and Entrepreneur application process requires careful strategising and preparation, and applicants need a combination of expert immigration and business advice. That’s why we work in conjunction with specialist business advisors who not only provide our clients with expert business advice and prepare detailed business plans, but who can also assist them in finding the most suitable business in New Zealand for their immigration requirements.

To find out more about setting up, investing in, and working in your own business in New Zealand check out InvestmentNow.

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Useful links

We regularly advise our business clients to check the following websites:

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Invest in New Zealand
A specialist division within New Zealand Trade and Enterprise that helps international corporate investors invest in New Zealand.
For information on doing business in New Zealand
A comprehensive guide designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses.

Look Learn Invest
The Securities Commission, an independent crown entity of the New Zealand government and New Zealand's main regulator of investments.

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