Applying to incorporate a society

How to apply, and what you’ll need to provide

To incorporate a society you must complete the application process and pay the registration fee. You can submit your application either online, or manually (by post or email).

1. If you are applying online

Before you can apply online, you must have:

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

2. Gather the information you’ll need

When you apply for incorporation, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • your society’s name
  • the address of your registered office
  • an address for communication
  • the month of your AGM
  • your society’s financial statement balance date
  • the names and signatures of 15 members
  • details of the person filing the application
  • a certificate of confirmation.

You must also provide a copy of your society's endorsed rules, and pay the application fee of $88.89 (plus GST).

Your society’s name

The name you choose for your incorporated society must not be identical or almost identical to that of another incorporated society or body corporate operating in New Zealand.

Your application will be returned to you if the name you have chosen is unavailable.

Your registered office address

The address for your registered office must be a full physical address. You cannot use a post office box, private bag or DX address as the registered office.

Address for communication

This is the address to which we’ll usually send communications, for example reminders to file your annual financial statements.

The address for communication can be either a postal or a physical address.

Where possible, you should also supply an email address (this will not be visible on the website, and will only be used by us as a point of contact).

Your AGM month and balance date

You’ll also need to advise us which month your society will hold its annual general meeting (AGM), as well as your society’s financial statement balance date (this should be recorded in your society’s rules).

The ‘balance date’ is the last day of a society’s financial year. If your society is a charity registered under the Charities Act 2005, its balance date will already be listed on the Charities Register. This same date must be used for the Incorporated Societies Register.

Details of officers (optional)

You can also choose to provide details for your elected officers. This is optional, and only the officers’ names will appear on the public register.

These details will make it easier for officers to access our online services and help us to keep key people informed about any matters relating to your society.

Details of the person filing the application

These details enable us to contact the appropriate person if there are any issues with the application. This person will also be sent the Certificate of Incorporation once the society is incorporated.

Certificate of confirmation

For those filing manually, a certificate must be completed by an officer of, or solicitor for the society, who should also sign the first page of the society’s rules.

The certificate should confirm that:

  • a majority of the members have consented to the application for incorporation
  • the rules attached to the application have been approved by the society.

If you are completing the application online, you will complete the certification as part of your application.

Names and signatures of 15 members

Whether you're applying online or manually, you'll need to provide the signatures of 15 members. For this, please use our signatures form (Form IS1A).

Members of an incorporated society can be individuals or corporate bodies (for example, other incorporated societies, companies or charitable trusts). For the purpose of making up the 15 members necessary to file the application, a corporate body counts as three individual members.

Individual members must provide their names and addresses.

An officer or director of a corporate body can sign on its behalf, or use the corporate body's common seal, if it has one (see Adopting a common seal).

An individual’s signature must be witnessed. A witness is permitted to validate more than one signature.

Who can see the information you provide

The details you provide in an application for incorporation will – except where specifically noted on the form – be made publicly available on the Incorporated Societies website. That includes details and signatures of the members and witnesses provided with the application.

Anyone searching for the incorporated society on the register will be able to see these details.

3. Complete your application

You can submit your application online or manually (by post or email).

To apply online

  1. Log in to your online services account.
  2. Select ’Incorporate a Society’ from the dashboard.
  3. Enter the proposed name of the incorporated society and confirm the name is available by clicking 'Name Availability Check'.
  4. Upload your society’s rules and signatures form, as well as any other supporting documents you wish to submit.
  5. Select the month of your annual general meeting (AGM) and the society’s balance date.
  6. Complete the signatory details section and select 'Next Step: Addresses'.
  7. Complete the ‘Addresses’ tab and click on 'Next Step: Officers’.
  8. Add officer details for the society if you wish (this is not mandatory) and/or click on 'Next Step: Review'
  9. On the ‘Review’ screen, check that the information you’ve provided is correct.
  10. Click 'Submit' to be taken to the payment screen.
  11. Complete payment and select 'OK'.

To submit your application manually

  1. Download the application and signatures forms (Form IS1 and Form IS1a).
  2. Complete the forms and ensure the certificate of confirmation has been signed.

Send the completed application forms, certification, a copy of the society’s endorsed rules, and payment (see form for options) to us.

By post to —

Companies Office
Private Bag 92061
Victoria Street West
Auckland 1142

or by email to processing@companiesoffice.govt.nz

4. Receive your Certificate of Incorporation

If your application is in order, your society will be registered as "[Your society name] Incorporated". We’ll email or post a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation to the person who filed the application.

5. After incorporation

The effect of incorporation is that your ‘executive committee’ (consisting of the president and other officers) will thereafter run the day-to-day affairs of the society and make decisions for it. Your members will be entitled to take part in the society’s activities and to vote at future general meetings, but will have no administrative role.

Adopting a 'common seal'

At the first meeting of your incorporated society, the executive committee will need to open a bank account and adopt a ‘common seal’ for the society. This is usually a rubber stamp that includes the name of the society and the words 'common seal’. It is used when the society signs serious contracts, as evidence of its agreement to honour its commitments. You can order a seal from a commercial stationer.

Tax exemption

If you’ve not already done so, you should check Inland Revenue’s website, as non-profit groups are often eligible for an income tax exemption.

Some incorporated societies may also be eligible to register under the Charities Act 2005. If you believe this may be the case with your society, the Charities Services website has further information.

Creating a branch

A society that has members in a number of regions may wish to establish branch societies.

The Incorporated Societies Amendment Act 1920 sets out the process for incorporating branches. This is generally the same as that for incorporating a society.

A society may submit an application to incorporate just one branch, or a number of branches may be incorporated as a group. In either case, there must be a minimum of 15 members in each branch, a majority of whom consent to the application for incorporation.

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