The New Zealand Government working with GS1 NZ

Governments are increasingly seeing the value of using the same standards private sector organisations use in processes including border clearance, procurement, identification of businesses and increasingly, traceability.

Global Data Standards (GDS) make things work. They give world-class specifications to ensure data interoperability, transparency and efficiency. They are instrumental in facilitating international trade.

New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)

Business has been asking the NZ Government to introduce a single business number for many years. The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a unique identifier for businesses in New Zealand. It will link business information in one place, for use by your business, the government, your business partners and the public. 

The NZBN is a Global Location Number (GLN) provided by GS1 New Zealand. Under the partnership with the Government, all public data from the NZBN registry is mirrored into GS1 New Zealand’s registries and, from there, syndicated out around the world. 

The NZ Government considered "A range of options for unique identifiers ... including the IRD number, the Australian and Canadian Business Numbers, and the Data Universal Number System (D-U-N-S®) provisioned by Dunn & Bradstreet. GS1 GLNs were chosen because they are globally unique, and part of a credible international system with strong links to trade and supply chain logistics. The other numbers had a range of drawbacks, including larger compliance costs, or additional privacy, legislative or sovereignty hurdles.” (source: Less Admin, More Business. NZ Government Discussion Document, August 2014)

1.1 million companies were allocated a NZBN in November 2013, and a bill to extend the NZBN concept to all other classes of business (trusts, partnerships, charities, government agencies, sole traders) was introduced into parliament in early 2015.


GS1 has been very involved in supporting sectors as diverse as seafood, red meat, diary, pipfruit, kiwifruit for many years in their need for traceability. 

The Government turned to GS1, in particular, in the aftermath of the Whey Protein Concentrate recall in 2013, and GS1 was a support to the Ministerial Inquiry into the Incident. GS1 was part of the Diary Traceability Working Group, set up by Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries and tasked with:

  • considering the most appropriate regulatory provisions for the traceability of dairy products; and
  • developing a code of practice or similar document to guide the dairy industry in implementing the requirements.

GS1 has been active in capacity building in the sector, and in preparing industry for the traceability requirements of the new Food Act.

Recalls management & food safety

GS1 NZ worked with the Ministry for Primary Industry, the NZ Food & Grocery Council, Foodstuffs & Woolworths New Zealand to build a leading-edge workflow portal for recalls and withdrawal management based on GS1 data standards. ProductRecallNZ is now the default method of managing such processes for food & grocery. As the NZ government considers how to streamline recalls management across multiple product types (general merchandise, healthcare, electrical and gas appliances, motor vehicles) and agencies, ProductRecallnz has been seen as an exemplar of how government agencies can work with industry collaboratively and in a voluntary manner to solve complex problems.

The role of global data standards in cross border trade

GS1 has been very engaged with border protection and Customs agencies to support the facilitation of goods across the border. In particular, GS1 NZ has provided specialist support to the APEC Business Advisory Council. A particular focus of ABAC is the ‘choke points’ that slow traded goods when they move across borders - typically for phytosanitary risk or customs assessment. ABAC-sponsored studies have identified the lack of standards and inter-operable IT systems are particular underlying issues that global data standards (GDS) can help address. 

Work by ABAC, NZ Government APEC officials and GS1 led to a APEC Leader’s Declaration in Beijing, November 2014. The meeting, chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, endorsed Global Data Standards pilots. Article 23 of the Leader’s Declaration reads: “We recognize that the use of standardized codes will enable information about traded goods to be easily understood and shared by all parties. We therefore encourage APEC economies to work with the private sector to promote further cooperation on global data standards and their wider use by developing pilot projects.”

Article 24 of the Joint Ministerial Statement stated “Recognising that the wider use of interoperable Global Data Standards (GDS) can bring about broader benefits of efficiency, integrity, visibility and innovation, we encourage officials to further advance their work on GDS, including developing pilot projects, conducting a study and establishing a set of policy- based principles or recommendations for future GDS initiatives. We endorse the APEC Statement on Promoting The Use Of Interoperable Global Data Standards (Annex A)."


GS1 has been active in supporting Government’s goals around patient safety and cost management. In 2011 the NZ Government Health Information Standards Organisation endorsed GS1’s standards for use in the NZ healthcare system. GS1 has been working since with the government’s shared services agency New Zealand Health Partnerships to create a National Catalogue for healthcare items and provide visibility of what products are purchased by the District Health Boards. Find out more about the Healthcare sector working with GS1.

If you require additional information or have any enquiries about this sector please contact Peter Stevens.