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.

On this page:

1. Checking that a company name is available to use

The Companies Act 1993, and various other laws, contain rules and guidance on the naming of companies. For example, under the Companies Act, the name you choose cannot be 'identical or almost identical' to that of another company or a reserved name. There are also certain names the use of which is restricted or protected by legislation.

How you can check your proposed company name

A company name is separate from a registered trade mark – reserving or registering company names doesn’t give you trade mark rights. You might unintentionally infringe a trade mark if your company name is confusingly similar to someone else’s trade mark and you are trading in the same or similar goods and services. 

ONECheck from allows you to check if a company name is potentially available. 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.
Start a ONECheck search

2. 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 most requests that are submitted during our normal business hours within 2 hours. Our normal business hours are 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Some name reservation requests require further checking, so we may not be able process them on the day they are submitted.

When we've approved your name reservation request, we'll send you email confirmation giving you 20 working days to incorporate your company before your name reservation expires. If your choice of name is rejected, we’ll tell you why it was refused.

3. More information about reserving a company name

If your company name is rejected

You’ll need to complete a new reservation and pay an additional fee of $10 (plus GST).

If your name reservation is about to expire

If you’re running out of time to incorporate, you can reserve the name you’ve chosen for a further 20 working 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.

Reserving 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

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 8 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.

Managing your online account 8 guides