No licensed offshore finance industry
New Zealand law does not provide for any form of officially sanctioned offshore finance industry. In particular, there is no provision for the licensing or supervision of any form of offshore financial institutions that are incorporated in New Zealand but provide financial services only outside of New Zealand.
What the law does do, is empower the Reserve Bank to licence banks that wish to operate in New Zealand. Licensed banks are the only type of financial institution that are permitted to call themselves banks. All financial institutions that apply to become licensed banks must meet high qualitative criteria in order to become licensed, and once licensed they are subject to active on-going prudential supervision by the Reserve Bank. A list of all currently licensed banks (called registered banks) is displayed on the Reserve Bank’s website at:
Law is also being introduced to provide for the licensing of other deposit taking financial institutions. Financial institutions eligible for licensing as deposit takers will be those that take deposits in New Zealand. Licensing of these deposit takers (to be done by the Reserve Bank) is expected to become mandatory in 2012. Qualitative standards will need to be met in order to obtain a license, and there will be ongoing supervision of the licensed deposit takers.
Also, the law currently requires a financial institution to register with the Ministry of Economic Development as a financial service provider if an entity wishes to provide any form of financial service in New Zealand. Registration as a financial service provider requires a place of business in New Zealand, but is not subject to any financial qualitative criteria.
Entities incorporated in New Zealand may provide financial services outside New Zealand without any form of licensing. Companies that do this are just ordinary New Zealand incorporated entities with no special status, rights, or privileges under New Zealand law. They are companies or other forms of incorporated entity that are subject to normal New Zealand commercial laws in the same way as all New Zealand incorporated entities. New Zealand incorporated entities that provide financial services solely outside New Zealand are not prudentially supervised by the Reserve Bank or any other New Zealand regulatory authority.
There are a number of New Zealand incorporated entities that operate in this manner, i.e. their business consists of providing financial services solely outside of New Zealand. These entities usually operate over the internet and have no physical presence in New Zealand. They should not give the impression in their advertising material that they are a New Zealand regulated or supervised financial institution, because they are not.
The Reserve Bank does not hold any detailed information about New Zealand incorporated entities that provide financial services solely outside of New Zealand. They are not generally required to provide any prudential or financial information to any New Zealand authority.
However, corporate information about all New Zealand incorporated entities, including those that operate as described above, is available from the on-line companies register administered by the Companies Office. The companies register records when an entity was incorporated, its registered address, the name and address of its director(s), and the name and address of its owner(s). It also has links to the original source documents such as the application to incorporate the entity, changes of directors, and annual returns (which just lists the then current addresses, directors and owners). The website is:
If you want more information about New Zealand incorporated entities that provide financial services solely outside New Zealand, or have specific queries, contact the Reserve Bank at: