How to apply for an IRD number in New Zealand

TransferWise
13.06.18
7 minute read

How to apply for an IRD number in New Zealand

Spending a chunk of time living in New Zealand - whether to work, study, or just kick back and travel - is pure bucket list stuff. The country is relaxed and welcoming. There’s plenty to explore, and you can get a great mix of outdoor adventure, and soaking up the cool culture and nightlife, depending on where you choose to live.

If you’re planning on being in New Zealand for any length of time - and especially if you’ll be working while you’re there - there’s a good chance that you have to get an IRD number, to make sure you can file your taxes¹. It’ll also keep your records straight and should mean that you pay the right amount of tax, too.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to apply for an IRD number in New Zealand.

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Now, back to what you came here to read.

What is an IRD number?

An IRD number is issued by the New Zealand Inland Revenue and is a unique identifier used for all government tax and benefits². If you don’t have an IRD number, there are some things you’re not allowed to do - like claim any government benefits in New Zealand - and you’ll pay the highest level of tax on any income. That’s a whopping 45% on earned income - pretty steep by any measure².

In effect, this means that anyone working in New Zealand must have an IRD number. You might even need one even if you don’t live in New Zealand, for example, if you want to buy or sell a property there or if you’re liable to any tax on income derived from New Zealand².

Where can I find my New Zealand IRD number?

Maybe you already have a New Zealand IRD number, but can’t remember it. Don’t panic - you have a few options. Your IRD number can be found in the following places²:

  • By logging into your myIR Online Services account
  • On any correspondence - such as letters and statements - from the Inland Revenue
  • On a statement from the KiwiSaver scheme - if you’re a member
  • On a payslip or salary statement issued by your employer

What if I don’t have a New Zealand IRD number? Why do I need it?

If you’re in New Zealand for work, you’ll definitely need an IRD number to keep your tax records straight. If you don’t have the number yet - for example, because you only just arrived in the country and haven’t got your IRD number sorted out yet - your employer must withhold 45% income tax from any salary you earn². Ouch. Once you get your IRN number you can make sure you’re paying the right amount of tax, and receiving any deductions you might be entitled to.

You also need an IRN number to file a tax return, to set up a business or work as an entrepreneur, or if you want to buy or sell a house in New Zealand².

Finally, you need an IRN number if you want to access any government benefits, such as a student loan - or if you want to join the KiwiSaver savings scheme². That’s the government-backed savings scheme used for retirement savings or for people who might want to save enough to buy their first home, for example⁵.

How do I get an IRD number in New Zealand?

How you apply for your IRD number will depend on your status. There are different processes depending on whether you’re a New Zealand citizen or there as a visa holder, and a different option again if you’re abroad. The details are all set out in full, on the New Zealand Inland Revenue website².

Applying for an IRD number as a New Zealand citizen

If you’re a New Zealand citizen you apply for an IRD number using the snappily named IR595 form². It’s available as a PDF on the Inland Revenue website - but you still need to print it out, and submit it with the right documents, to lodge your application.

The documents you’ll need are as follows³:

  • One form of category A identification - these include a passport, a New Zealand citizenship certificate, or a New Zealand birth certificate issued later than the start of 1998
  • One form of category B identification - such as a driver license, a student ID or a letter from your employer

To submit your application, take the completed application form, your original identification documents, and a photocopy of them, along to an AA driver licensing agency or PostShop.³ There you can have your documents verified in person - meaning you don’t need to send them off anywhere. The application will be passed on to the Inland Revenue, and you’ll have your IRD number within 8-10 working days after they’ve received it³.

You can also apply for an IRD number for a child under 16 if you wish to. In that case, the child will need ID as described above, and you’ll also have to provide an ID for yourself, along with proof of your relationship to the child. It’s possible to get an IRD number for your baby at the same time as registering their birth if you’re super organised like that³.

Process for expats - in New Zealand as a migrant or visa holder

If you’re in New Zealand as a visa holder, you can apply for your IRD number online after you’ve arrived to New Zealand. If you have a resident visa you’ll need your passport and your Immigration New Zealand Application Number. You can find this number on your Visa letter².

If you have a student or work visa, you need your passport and visa - plus your tax identification number from your home country, if you have one. You also need your Immigration New Zealand Application Number, and you have to show that customer due diligence has been completed for you or that you have an NZ bank account².

This might sound a bit mysterious, but the lists of reporting entities are freely available on the Inland Revenue website - they’re basically financial services firms of various types, who can check that you aren’t in any way involved in money laundering or financing terrorism.

Once you have collected the paperwork you need, you can apply online, and when your application has been reviewed it should only take a couple of days to get your IRD number via email or SMS. You can get your number sent to you by snail mail, too - but this will take a couple of weeks

Applying for an IRD number from outside of New Zealand

If you’re outside of New Zealand and need to apply for an IRD number, you have to complete form IR742, and post all the relevant paperwork to the Inland Revenue in New Zealand. However, you can only do this if you’ve travelled to New Zealand before and have been verified by New Zealand customs service².

Depending on your circumstances you might also need to prove that you have had customer due diligence completed for you - as described above - by either providing a bank statement showing you have a functioning New Zealand bank account, or having an approved body run some checks on you to make sure you’re not connected with criminal activity².

Applying for a New Zealand IRD number should be pretty straightforward, as long as you have all the right documents on hand. The process is all clearly set out on the Inland Revenue website and should be simple enough to follow, as long as you can keep up with all the funky form names.

With your IRD number all set up, you’ll know all your records will be kept straight, you can get access to government support and benefits, and you won’t accidentally end up needing to pay more tax than you have to. Then all you need to do is enjoy your stay in beautiful New Zealand.

Sources:

1https://www.govt.nz/browse/tax-benefits-and-finance/ird-numbers/get-an-ird-number/ (June 13, 2018)

2http://www.ird.govt.nz/how-to/irdnumbers/individuals/yourirdnumber.html (June 13, 2018)

3http://www.ird.govt.nz/resources/2/d/2dd3757a-3ae0-4c2a-9dd4-0fee9b4d668d/ir595-2017.PDF (June 13, 2018)

4http://www.ird.govt.nz/resources/f/1/f18d93e8-d1c7-41d4-8181-1a39ea9d78e4/IR997.pdf (June 13, 2018)

⁵http://www.kiwisaver.govt.nz/new/about/summary/ (June 13, 2018)

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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