Things to do before you apply

Drafting your rules and choosing a name

To incorporate a society you’ll need to submit an application form, either manually (by post or email) or online. Before you can apply, however, there are a few things you’ll need to have already done.

You will be required to:

  1. draft a constitution (set of rules)
  2. choose a name
  3. hold a meeting of your members.

1. Drafting a set of rules

An incorporated society is required to have a constitution (set of rules) that establish its 'objects' (purpose), and how it will operate. You’ll be asked to provide a copy of your rules when you file your application.

The Incorporated Societies Act 1908 sets out the minimum requirements for a society’s rules, which must be clear and comprehensive.

Constitution Builder tool helps with drafting rules

To help you draft your rules, you might like to use our online tool — the ‘Constitution Builder’.

The Constitution Builder is able to produce a draft document containing most of the content required in a constitution — however, it should not be considered a substitute for expert legal advice.

Using our Constitution Builder to draft your rules

Use our Constitution Builder tool

Look at rules of other societies

It may be also useful for you to look at the rules of other societies, particularly those with a similar 'objects' to your own.

Search for societies

Seek legal advice if you need further assistance

Before finalising your constitution you’ll need to discuss the draft rules with your society’s members, and consult a professional.

2. Choosing a name

You’ll also need to choose a name for your society.

The name you choose —

  • must be included in your rules
  • can include macrons
  • must end with the word ‘Incorporated’.

There are some restrictions

The name you choose cannot contain certain words (for example, ANZAC, Royal) the use of which are prohibited by other pieces of legislation.

It cannot be the same as, or similar to that of, another incorporated society or body corporate (for example, a company), unless that organisation gives its written consent to us.

We may also decline names that are, in our opinion, undesirable.

Checking the name is available

You can check that the name you’ve chosen is available to use by using the search options provided on the Companies Office websites.

Search for societies Search for a company Search other registers

3. Holding a meeting of your members

Once you’ve drafted your rules, you can circulate these for comment among your members. You’ll then need to call a meeting of your society to:

  • approve the rules
  • resolve to apply for incorporation
  • decide who will be the president, secretary and treasurer
  • choose who will fill the committee positions.

You’re then ready to file your application for incorporation.

All help topics

Getting started on the register 7 guides

Searching the Incorporated Societies Register 2 guides

Find out how to search our registers for information about incorporated societies, and other entities

Starting an incorporated society 5 guides

To incorporate a society in New Zealand you must submit an application, along with the required documents, and pay a registration fee.

Reregistering under the 2022 Act 6 guides

Running your incorporated society 7 guides

Once you’ve registered, you’ll need to keep your details on the register up to date, and follow the rules that apply to incorporated societies and how they are run.

Meeting your annual filing requirements 3 guides

Once you've registered your incorporated society, you'll need to file annual financial statements. Societies registered under the Incorporated Societies Act 2022 must also complete an annual return.

Ending an incorporated society 2 guides

When an incorporated society reaches the end of its 'life', it must be wound up and removed from the register. Here we outline the ways this can be done – by dissolving the society (1908 Act), removing the society from the register (2022 Act) or placing it in liquidation.

Restoring an incorporated society to the register 2 guides

An application can be made to us to have an incorporated society restored to the register, by the society itself, or by a creditor. You'll need to provide evidence to support your application.

Forms and fees 3 guides

The forms you might need to update a society's details, along with the fees that apply and ways you can pay.

Managing your online account 7 guides