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.

Tools to help you

To help you draft your rules, this website provides access to guidelines, sample rules, and our ‘Constitution Builder’ for incorporated societies — a ‘do-it-yourself’ online tool for writing or revising your rules.

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.

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

Using our Constitution Builder to draft your rules

Use our Constitution Builder tool
Let us know what you think

We’re keen to refine the tool to make it as useful as we can, so we’d love to hear your feedback.

Let us know what you think of 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. Seek legal advice if you need further assistance.

Search for societies

2. Choosing a name

You’ll also need to choose a name for your society, which must be included in your rules – and must end with the word ‘Incorporated’.

The name you choose cannot be the same as, or similar to that of, another incorporated society or body corporate (for example, a company), unless that organisation has given its written consent to us.

Checking the name is available

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

Search for societies Search for a company Search other registers

Other restrictions on names

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

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

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 6 guides

Find out about incorporated societies and the Incorporated Societies Register, and what's needed to register and maintain an incorporated society in New Zealand.

Searching the Incorporated Societies Register 2 guides

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

Starting an incorporated society 6 guides

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

Running your incorporated society 8 guides

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. There are two ways this can be done – by dissolving the society, or having it liquidated.

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

Forms you'll need to register your incorporated society and keep it up to date, along with a schedule of fees payable.