How to reserve a company name

What’s required when you apply to reserve a company name

Reserving a company name is the first step to incorporating a new company on the Companies Register. Before you apply to reserve a name, you should make sure it’s available, and that it meets our criteria for a suitable name.

Checking that a company name is available

The name you choose cannot be identical or almost identical to that of another company. ONECheck allows users to compare the availability of a business name among existing company names, domains and trademarks. ONECheck provides:

  • the ability to check registered company names, web domains and social media usernames in one simple search.
  • a measure of the originality of a trade mark (word mark) on a sliding scale.
  • a description of the difference between a company name and a trade mark, which addresses a common misconception for people starting their first business.

Because reserving or registering business names or web domains doesn’t automatically give new businesses trade mark rights, ONECheck lets users check if their proposed trade mark or trading name appears to be unique and original. It also provides additional guidance around what to do next.

ONECheck provides a useful starting point for businesses seeking to register a distinctive trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand.

Names that can’t be reserved

There are some names that aren't acceptable under the Companies Act 1993.

Names of overseas companies

If you’re reserving a name for an overseas company, it must be identical to the name used to register the company in its home country.

Apply to reserve a company name online

If you're incorporating a new company, you must use your name reservation within 20 working days.

Reserving a company name online costs $10 (plus GST).

What you'll need to reserve a name

To reserve a company name, you must have:

  • a RealMe® login
  • an online services account with the Companies Register.

How to apply

Log in to your online services account and follow these steps.

  1. From your dashboard select the Entity type — for example, a New Zealand Limited Company or Overseas ASIC company.
  2. Enter the company name you’d like to reserve. The name of a limited liability company must end in Limited or Tapui Limited.
  3. Select the Auto check button before submitting your application — this step shouldn’t replace your search of the register to check if your name is available.
  4. Select who you are incorporating a company for – yourself or your employer.
  5. Upload any supporting documents — for example, if you have written approval to use a restricted word.
  6. Select Subit and complete the payment process.
Reserve a company name

What happens next

When you submit your request to reserve a company name, we’ll check that it isn’t offensive, restricted, identical or almost identical to any other name on the Companies Register.

We process requests submitted during normal business hours within two hours, otherwise we'll process it on the next business day. Our business processing hours are 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.

When we've processed your name reservation request, you’ll receive an email confirmation giving you 20 days to incorporate your company. If your choice of name is rejected, we’ll tell you why it was refused.

Viewing your application

You can check your application's progress by selecting My Unfinished Business on your personal dashboard.

If you need more time

If you’re running out of time to incorporate you can reserve the name you’ve chosen for a further 20 business days. This can be done on the 19th or last day of a reservation period, and there is an additional application fee of $10 (plus GST).

To reserve a company name for a further period, you must:

  • have an online services account with the Companies Register
  • be the person who reserved the name or a member of the organisation, if reserved by an organisation.

Then log in and follow these steps.

  1. Look under My unfinished business to find the company names you've reserved.
  2. From the list provided​, select the name you wish to reserve for a further period and choose Continue.
  3. When prompted, answer Yes to Name reservation.
  4. Choose the appropriate payment option — direct debit, credit card or debit card — and enter the email address you would like the tax invoice sent to.
  5. Select Continue to process the payment. Confirmation of your payment will appear on screen and a tax invoice will be emailed to you.
  6. Select Continue.

A pop-up screen will appear confirming that you've successfully reserved the company name for a further 20 working days. We send you an email confirming the new reservation details.

If someone else is going to incorporate the company

If you've reserved a name, but another person or organisation is completing the process of incorporating your company, you can transfer your name reservation to them.

Changing the name of a company

To change the name of an existing New Zealand or overseas company, you’ll need to use our ‘Change company name’ service.

1.    Log in to your online services account.

Related pages

All help topics

Before you start a company 5 guides

Get an overview of how companies are structured, find out about the company records you need to keep, and what's involved when you incorporate with and report to the Companies Office.

Shares and shareholders 7 guides

When you incorporate, you must provide details of all company shares and shareholders. As changes occur, you must update this information on your own share register and in your company's annual return.

Company directors 7 guides

Directors have responsibilities to their company and shareholders, and under the Companies Act 1993. You must register all your directors with the Companies Office and they must sign a consent form.​

Filing annual returns 7 guides

Find out about filing an annual return — the information you need to update, how to change your filing month or request a time extension — and what happens if you don't file your annual return by the due date.

Complying with the law 11 guides

Restoring a company to the register 4 guides

Only some companies can be reinstated to the Companies Register once they've been removed. Find out who can apply, what evidence to provide and if you should apply to the Registrar or the High Court.

Getting support to use the Companies Register 6 guides