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About Business Industry Classification (BIC) codes

What is a Business Industry Classification code?

A Business Industry Classification (BIC) code is a way of classifying a self-employed person or business by their main activity. Activity means the service or product a business or self-employed person provides to others.

Why is it important to choose the correct BIC code?

Inland Revenue supplies the BIC code you provide to ACC and Statistics New Zealand. Choosing the correct BIC code means the information held by these agencies for you or your business is correct.

ACC uses your BIC code to calculate the levies you will need to pay (only if you have earnings liable for ACC levies). Supplying an incorrect BIC code will mean your ACC invoices are calculated incorrectly. For more information, see the ACC website Liable earnings for Self-employed or Liable earnings for businesses.

Inland Revenue uses the BIC codes for statistical analysis.

Statistics NZ translates the BIC code into the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), which is used to compile and analyse industry statistics.

What happens if I don’t supply a BIC code?

ACC will assign a BIC code based on any information it has available about you or your business. Not supplying a BIC code could mean an incorrectly calculated levy invoice being sent to you.

What if I change the service or product I provide to my customers after I have supplied my BIC code?

You should provide details of the change to:

  • ACC (email business@acc.co.nz or phone toll-free on 0800 222 776)
  • Inland Revenue (log into your myIR account and send a secure mail advising the new BIC code or phone toll-free on 0800 377 774).

What are Classification Units and ANZSIC codes?

Each BIC code corresponds to an ACC classification unit (CU) code and description. ACC uses CUs to group together businesses or individuals to ensure levies are fair.

Each CU has a levy rate used to calculate ACC levies. You will see the CU on your levy invoice. The CUs displayed on this website for each BIC code are those of the current levy year.

To calculate your ACC levies, use the online levy calculators or use the Levy Guide Book to find specific rates. To find out more about the ACC levies you have to pay, payment options, various ACC products, see the For Business section on the ACC website.

Statistics NZ uses the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) to compile and analyse industry statistics. To find out more, visit the Statistics NZ industrial classification, or use their code finder tool.

Finding the right Business Industry Classification (BIC) codes

How do I find the correct BIC code?

You need to select the BIC code that reflects the main activity undertaken by you or your business. If you are:

  • self-employed, the activity relates to what you do to earn an income, not what the business you may work for does. For example, if you are a self-employed software developer working for a large financial institution, your activity is ‘software development’.

  • a business, the activity relates to the goods sold or produced or the services provided to your customers. Tasks that support the activity (eg administration, management, marketing and distribution, technical support, maintenance, and product development) are treated as part of the activity, not as separate activities (unless you are in a partnership).

    For example, if you have a plumbing business that employs plumbers as well as staff to undertake administration, the service your business provides is ‘plumbing’ and the activity of the business is ‘plumbing’.

    If you are in a partnership where one partner is a plumber and the other partner does the administration, the activity of each partner relates to the work they do. The activity of the partner doing the plumbing is ‘plumbing’, and the activity of the partner doing the bookwork is ‘office administration’.

  • a shareholder employee, the activity relates to the goods sold or produced or the services provided by the business that employs you. For example, if you are providing accounting services as a shareholder employee of a cheese manufacturing business, your activity is ‘cheese manufacturing’.

If you have passive earnings, you still need to select a BIC code. See What BIC code do I use if I'm not a company, not self-employed, or don't work? 

Search tips:

  • Be specific with your search. For example, instead of ‘retail’, search ‘clothing retail’; instead of ‘farming’, search the type of farming (eg ‘dairy farming’).

  • If you are involved in the assembly of products, search for the manufacturing code of the products assembled. For example, if you assemble wooden furniture, search ‘wooden furniture manufacturing’.

  • If you sell products to the general public through a shop, search for the products you retail. For example, if you sell shoes in a shop, search for ‘shoe retailing’. If you do not sell products to the general public through a shop, for example you sell exclusively via the internet, market stalls or catalogues, browse Non-store retailing and select the relevant code from there.

  • If you sell products mainly to other businesses for resale or for their own use, search for the relevant wholesaling code. For example, if you sell stationery to schools, search for ‘stationery wholesaling’.

A wholesaler usually operates from a warehouse or office with little or no display of goods sold and uses trade contacts to market their business.

  • If you sell to both the general public and other businesses, select the retail or wholesale code that best reflects your business. For example, if you operate:

    • a shop with a large display of stock, search for the relevant retailing code.
    • a warehouse with little or no display of stock, search for the relevant wholesaling code.

What if I am involved in more than one activity?

If you are self-employed and involved in more than one activity at the same time, choose the BIC code that relates to the predominant activity or contact ACC on 0508 426 837. Note: for levy purposes ACC may use the code of an activity you undertake that attracts the highest levy rate.

If you are a business with employees and involved in more than one activity at the same time, choose the code that relates to the predominant activity of your business or contact ACC on 0800 222 776. Note: for levy purposes ACC may use the code of an activity you undertake that attracts the highest levy rate.

Some businesses may qualify, for ACC purposes, to have their levies based on multiple classification units if the criteria in the guidelines below are met. Note: self-employed is not eligible for multiple classification units.

Any request to use multiple ACC classification units must be made directly to ACC. If you require more information, contact ACC on 0800 222 776.

The following guidelines explain the multiple classification unit rules.

  1. The business must have distinct and independent activities.
    • Each activity must provide a service to an external customer. Providing an internal service is not classified separately.
    • Any one activity must be able to continue without adaptation if all the others cease to exist.
    • Producing raw materials for, and selling the production from, a manufacturing unit are not separate activities.
  2. The accounting records must demonstrate the separate management and operation of each activity.
    • Regularly produced management accounts are more likely to satisfy this condition than annual accounts.
    • Accounts created retrospectively do not demonstrate the separate management of the activity during the year.
    • Accounts must mirror the organisational structure to demonstrate separate management.
    • A good practical test is whether the accounting records would establish a value for the activity if it were sold.
    • All income and expense items should be attributed to the activity at source (reallocation on a percentage or share basis is usually unsatisfactory).
    • The accounting records must contain all relevant income and expenses, including overheads. ACC may ask to view accounting or wage records.
  3. There must be records showing the earnings of employees separately for each activity.
    • Separate activities cannot exist if all staff are shared.
    • Separate payroll systems are not required. The wage records may be kept on a central system.
    • For employees engaged in two or more activities, the highest rated applicable classification must be used, but ignore any activity that provides 5% or less of an employee’s earnings. If a company is a consolidated group filing an IR4 return, individual PAYE returns must still be filed for each employing company in the group. Each of those companies must use a classification (or classifications) based solely on its own activity. The nominated company may not use multiple classifications to describe the activities of the other companies in the consolidated group.

What BIC code do I use if I'm not a company, not self-employed, or don't work?

Note: If you have passive earnings, you still need to select a BIC code.

Retired

Search for the code that best describes the activity that has produced the non-PAYE income included in your current tax return, or will produce this income in the future. For a person no longer working, this may be, for example, shares or property or ongoing income (eg commissions) from a previous business activity.

For example, if your income is:

  • rent from an investment property, search for ‘renting’.
  • dividends from shares in a property company, search for ‘financial asset investing’.

Ceased, no longer self-employed, unemployed, or an employee

Search for the code that describes the activity that has produced the non-PAYE income included in your current tax return, or will produce this income in the future. For a person with no current employment, this may be, for example, financial or property investments or residual income from a ceased business or self employment.

Please search for the relevant activity. If you have ceased trading also contact ACC on 0800 222 776 to advise the cease date.

Student or beneficiary

Search for the code that describes the activity that has produced the non-PAYE income included in your current tax return, or will produce this income in the future. For a student, this may be, for example, part-time or full-time self-employment providing services or making items for sale.

For example, if your part-time income is from:

  • picking fruit in an orchard, search for ‘fruit picking’.
  • delivering newspapers or advertising material, search ‘newspaper’ or ‘advertising material’.

Estate administrator

Search for the code that describes the activity that produced the deceased person’s non-PAYE income. It may have been investments or a business activity.

Trust

Search for the code that describes the activity that has produced or will produce income for the trust (including family trusts), or is operated by the trust (including family trusts). This may be provision of services, manufacturing or sale of goods, an artistic or recreational activity, or an investment activity (eg rental property).

For example, if the trust income is rent from an investment property, search for ‘renting’.

If the only activity of the trust is owning the family home use L671150 Investment - residential property.

Non-profit organisation and/or charity

Search for the code that describes the activity that has produced or will produce income for the non-profit organisation, charity or charitable trust, or describes the service provided to the community.

For example:

  • a charitable organisation operating a wildlife park or reserve, search for ‘animal park’ not ‘charity’.
  • a non-profit organisation operating rest homes, search ‘rest home’.
  • a charitable trust providing parenting classes, search 'parental education'.

Contractor or sub-contractor

‘Contractor’ is a general term often used by businesses or the self-employed operating in the construction sector. If this applies to you, search for the code that is specific to the activity undertaken by you or your business (eg ‘earthmoving’).

‘Contractor’ is also used to describe a business relationship between a self-employed person and an employing organisation. If this applies to you, search for the code specific to the service provided by you or your business, not one that describes the activity of the employer.

For example, if you are a contractor providing cleaning services to schools, search for ‘cleaning’ not ‘school’.

Director, chairman or board member

If you are a company director, in a directorate or board member position, or an elected representative in other organisations (eg trusts, societies, government organisations) select the code based on the following principles:

  • Executive directors (a person who also holds a management position in the company) should search for the code that describes the activity of the company.

  • Non-executive directors (a person providing personal business and management experience and expertise to the company) should select M696297 Management services not elsewhere classified, or M696296 Management service to local government and other statutory bodies.

Investor or have investments

Investments (including passive investments) may be in financial assets (eg shares, cash deposits, bonds) or non-financial assets (eg art, livestock, as a franchisor, intellectual property, fishing quota/licences).

For example, if you have cash deposits or shares, or interest from bank accounts, search ‘financial asset’. If you have income from rental properties, search for ‘renting’.

If your only activity is owning the family home use L671150 Investment - residential property.

If you need further help, see our contact page for details.

What if I change activity during the tax year?

If you changed activity during the tax year, choose the BIC code that relates to the activity you or the business were involved in at year end (31 March).