Reserving a name for a new company

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'll need to make sure it's available, and that it meets our criteria for a suitable name. There is a fee of $10 (plus GST) for reserving a company name.

Checking that a company name is available to use

The name you choose cannot be 'identical or almost identical' to that of another company.

MBIE's ONECheck service allows you to confirm the availability of a proposed company name. It 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, on a sliding scale.
  • an explanation of the difference between a company name and a trade mark.

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

Start a ONECheck search

The rules relating to company names

The Companies Act 1993, and various other laws, contain rules and guidance on the naming of companies.

Names that are protected by legislation

There are also certain names the use of which is restricted or protected by legislation.

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.

See also

Applying to reserve a company name

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 to reserve a name

To reserve a company name, follow these steps.

  1. Log in to your online services account.
  2. On your dashboard, select the entity type from the drop-down menu.
    For example, a New Zealand Limited Company or Overseas ASIC company.
  3. Enter the company name you’d like to reserve.
    The name of a limited liability company must end in 'Limited' or 'Tapui Limited'.
  4. Confirm the availability of the name using the 'Auto check'.
    This step should not replace your own checks, as described above.
  5. Select who you are incorporating a company for — yourself or your employer.
  6. Upload any supporting documents, for example, if you have written approval to use a restricted word.
  7. Select 'Submit' 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 2 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 approved 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.

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 follow these steps.

  1. Log in to your online services account.
  2. On your dashboard, look under 'My unfinished business' to find the company names you've reserved.
  3. From the list provided​, select the name you wish to reserve for a further period and choose 'Continue'.
  4. When prompted, answer 'Yes' to 'Name reservation'.
  5. Complete the payment process.

A pop-up screen will appear confirming that you've successfully reserved the company name for a further 20 working days. We'll 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 authorised person or organisation will complete 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.

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