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Business Register release policy


  1. Names and addresses of individual undertakings, together with the number of persons engaged and the industry classification assigned to each, will only be released to other organisations where these data will be used for producing official statistics of national importance.
  2. Statistics New Zealand will transfer classifications held on the Business Register to business-related data held by other organisations only where this will be used to produce or improve the quality of official statistics of national importance.
  3. In releasing statistics based on Business Register data (eg counts of numbers of undertakings by location, area, industry, size, etc), Statistics New Zealand will take all reasonable measures to ensure the data cannot be identified with any individual undertaking.


  1. This policy is consistent with the requirements of the Statistics Act 1975, and with current official information and data privacy legislation.
  2. All requests for the release of Business Register unit record data will be logged. The decision of the Government Statistician to release or not release the data, and any special conditions attached, will be recorded. This information will be published quarterly, and will be available for public inspection.
  3. Where details of individual undertakings are supplied under this policy, the organisation receiving those details will be required to agree in writing:
    i) not to pass those data on to any third party; and
    ii) to use the data only for the purpose for which it was provided.
  4. Where Business Register data are being used as a frame for a survey of undertakings, the survey will be subject to the standard review process applied to Government Department survey proposals under Section 6 of the Statistics Act 1975. The objective of the review is to ensure that the statistics produced from the survey integrate with other official statistics, that the burden placed on respondents is minimised and that the survey design meets technical standards applied to other official surveys.



1 Unit record data

Unit record data are items of information about an individual person, household, or undertaking.

2 Undertaking

An organisation, body of persons or part thereof, enterprises, their branches and accounting divisions, government agencies, clubs, trade unions, trusts, etc. and includes business professional practices.

3 Business Register

The Business Register is a comprehensive list of businesses and other undertakings in New Zealand engaged in the production of goods and services.

The information recorded about each undertaking includes its name, address, ownership links with other undertakings, the numbers of persons employed, and codes indicating industry, location, institutional sector, type of business and nature of overseas transactions.

The register is maintained to provide a framework for selecting respondents for Statistics New Zealand’s business surveys. It is used to prevent gaps and overlaps in survey coverage, to manage the despatch and collection of survey questionnaires, to control respondent burden and to ensure consistent classification of data collected in business surveys.

4 Official statistics

Official statistics are statistics required for the efficient formulation, operation and monitoring of economic, social, demographic and electoral policy.

Section 4 of the Statistics Act 1975 provides a comprehensive list of the subject-matter covered by official statistics.

5 National importance

Statistics of national importance are those which either:

  • substantially relate to the whole of New Zealand; or
  • cover an activity or region which has national implications; and
  • provide additional information which would substantially add to or complement existing official statistics meeting these two criteria.

Note: Information collected by a government agency solely to assess its own performance, or for market research, would not normally be considered of 'national importance'.



1 Role of Statistics New Zealand

The role of Statistics New Zealand is to produce official statistics of national importance, to help other agencies to do so and to facilitate the use and interpretation of official statistics.

2 Confidentiality

The quality of official statistics is dependent on collecting accurate data and maintaining high response rates in the department's surveys. This relies on the cooperation of survey respondents, which in turn depends on public confidence in the integrity of the department and its processes. This confidence rests on the department's reputation for using data only for statistical purposes for protecting the privacy of survey respondents and for keeping the data they supply.

3 Implications for Business Register data

The Statistics Act 1975 allows the Government Statistician discretion to release the names and addresses of individual businesses together with the numbers of persons engaged and the industry classifications assigned to each. Since the early 1980s, the department has made this information available for regional planning, market research and, more recently, allowed limited release for direct marketing. A review of this practice concluded that release of Business Register data for purposes not related to the production of official statistics of national importance was inconsistent with the department's role. It was also considered inconsistent with the assurances given to survey respondents and to the public generally about the use of unit record data.

For these reasons the department has adopted the policy outlined above.

Page updated 19 January 2016

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