Can a Foreigner Start a Business in New Zealand?

Can a Foreigner Start a Business in New Zealand?
New Zealand’s strong economy and open markets combined with a flexible regulatory environment resulted in the World Bank Doing Business survey (2016) declaring it as the easiest place to do business in the entire world.
New Zealand government does not place many restrictions on investors and businesses who are looking to establish, own and operate a business in the country. In fact, the nation provides easy to use online portals which make things like reserving your company name and incorporating it a simple task that can be completed within a few hours.
Not only that, INZ (Immigration New Zealand) offers many visa options for experienced investors and businessmen to help them stay in the country while they work on their New Zealand ventures.

What different business structures does New Zealand support?

Before you start a business in New Zealand, the first step is to check out the various options in terms of what business structure you may want to adopt for your company. Here are your typical choices:

Sole Trader

Sole traders run their businesses by themselves. They are personally liable for all business debts and taxes. A sole trader can employ staff, but he/she is the one who exerts control, provides top-level management and owns the company – and of course, the sole trader gets to keep all the profits.
Typically, it does not involve any paperwork (minimal documentation may be required in some special cases) to start a business as a sole trader. A majority of companies in New Zealand start out as sole traders before moving to limited liability companies as they grow. The other reason for most people to start their companies as sole traders is to benefit from the protections and other advantages that come with this structure.


When it comes to traditional New Zealand businesses like the farming industry and professional services, a partnership is the most commonly chosen structure. Partnerships help you effectively share the operational costs of the company, for instance, when many professionals are working out of a single office. It is important to note that the partnership entity does not pay any income taxes. Instead, this structure calls for the entire business income to be distributed among all partners – the partners are then responsible for paying taxes on their individual share.
A partnership can be started without any registration. However, most partnerships are initiated by creating an official partnership agreement – it usually includes clauses to cover any potential conflicts and contingencies. Professionals like accountants, lawyers, doctors, etc. were once almost always found to be working under this form. However, a lot of people are now exploring other New Zealand business structures that offer better protection in some cases.

Limited Liability

A company formed under this structure is a separate legal and formal entity – which limits the liability of owners and shareholders to their share in case of any business losses. However, this protection does not extend to cases where the directors have furnished personal guarantees to cover company debts – this becomes more pronounced when the business has been trading recklessly or operating while being insolvent.
Limited liability companies are considered to be the most successful of all business structures supported by New Zealand. It promotes confidence in the firm by providing governance frameworks for working relationships among shareholders, investors, creditors and directors – stakeholders like investors, customers have a better picture of the “what” and “who” of the entities they have to deal with. The best part, you can register/incorporate a limited liability company online with the Companies Office – for a very nominal fee (presently NZ$ 150).
New Zealand provides excellent support for getting information about the business environment that any foreigner can access by visiting This is an excellent resource to research the market you want to enter and related business opportunities, before you embark on your immigration process to open a business in New Zealand. You can take a look at another good resource to know more about how to start or buy a business in New Zealand by clicking here.

What are the visa options to open a business in New Zealand?

INZ offers many immigration paths for people who have the right business acumen, skills, experience and investment capital so they can easily become part of New Zealand’s booming business environment.
The country extends a warm welcome to innovators, inventors, investors and entrepreneurs who can contribute to the New Zealand economy – the country has ambitious economic goals and talented businessmen are bound to find attractive avenues to put their innovation and international experience to good use. The INZ has created various well-chalked out immigration pathways to attract the right business talent.
These New Zealand visas to start a business or invest have been carefully designed to support you in establishing your business in the country – they provide support and sustainability for your capital and immigration. Another key aspect of these Investor Visas, Entrepreneur Visas and Global Impact Visa (GIV) is that you will be able to explore the fun, adventure, family-friendly and healthy aspects of New Zealand lifestyle while you work on establishing your business venture.

NZ Migration Help is an Auckland-based team of immigration professionals who are experts in helping foreigners come to New Zealand to open their businesses. We work closely with you to understand your ambitions, financial capability and other personal circumstances to provide you with the best visa and immigration options. Do not risk your capital and time without having an experienced New Zealand immigration team on your side. If you are a foreigner who has been dreaming of starting a business in New Zealand, book a consultation and let us answer all your related questions.