COVID-19 information

Find out about the Government’s relief measures for companies and other entities, and also what the Companies Office is doing, to help those affected by COVID-19.

Last updated 1 April 2021

COVID-19 relief measures: update

In May last year, the Government made temporary changes to the Companies Act and other legislation to support businesses affected by COVID-19, both financially and in terms of their compliance obligations. Most of those provisions have now expired, or will expire later this year. 

The provisions are listed below, along with their current status.

Business Debt Hibernation

Published 3 April 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) allows businesses disrupted by COVID-19 to get a month’s protection while they talk to their creditors. During this period, most creditors can’t take legal action to enforce their debts, for example, applying for your business to be liquidated. If your creditors agree, you can get a further 6 months’ protection.

Learn more about Business Debt Hibernation

Electronic signatures and the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017

The Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 was amended so that the provisions in that Act relating to electronic signatures apply to security agreements containing powers of attorney. This change applies retrospectively from 21 March 2020.

Expired provisions

The temporary legislation introduced a number of other measures. The following provisions have now expired.

Enabling use of electronic means

The law changes made it possible for entities to use electronic means when their constitution or rules wouldn't normally permit this. This provision expired on 31 March 2021.

Allowing modifications to constitutions or rules

Entities were able to make certain modifications to their constitutions or rules if a majority of their governing officers believed, in good faith, that it was not reasonably practicable to comply with those provisions as a result of COVID-19. This provision expired on 31 March 2021.

Exemptions from compliance obligations

Certain Registrars and Ministers were given the power to grant exemptions from specified statutory obligations (such as calling or holding meetings and auditing, assurance, or financial reporting or review requirements). This provision expired on 31 March 2021.

Safe harbour for company directors

The law changes provided a temporary ‘safe harbour’ from personal liability for directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems as a result of COVID-19. This provision expired on 30 September 2020 — but can be reactivated by regulation if required.

Updates for specific registers

Building Societies Register

Law changes to help building societies comply with their rules

Published 17 June 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Legislation passed in response to COVID-19, giving building societies relief from certain obligations in their rules and making it possible for them to use electronic means, expired on 31 March 2021.

Charitable Trusts Register

Law changes to help charitable trust boards comply with their rules

Published 17 June 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Legislation passed in response to COVID-19, giving charitable trust boards relief from certain obligations in their rules and making it possible for them to use electronic means, expired on 31 March 2021.

We’re accepting ‘remote’ declarations

Published 20 May 2020, updated 1 April 2021

In response to the need for physical distancing during COVID alert levels 2 to 4, the Companies Office will, as a temporary measure, accept statutory declarations that meet the requirements of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 but are taken by alternative means. This provision continues until further notice.

Insolvency relief for charitable trusts

Published 3 April 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) allows charitable trusts affected by COVID-19 disruptions to apply to get a month of protection while they talk to their creditors. During this period most creditors can’t take legal action to enforce their debts, for example, applying for your trust board to be liquidated. If your creditors agree, you can get a further 6 months of protection.

The BDH scheme was due to expire on 24 December 2020 but will now continue until 31 October 2021.

Learn more about Business Debt Hibernation

Companies Register

COVID-19 exemptions for companies and administrators

Published 29 January 2021, updated 1 April 2021

Exemptions were granted by the Registrar of Companies to ease compliance obligations on companies, overseas companies, and their administrators, where they were affected by COVID-19.

The exemptions relaxed requirements in regard to a range of procedural and administrative matters in the Companies Act, and applied to acts or omissions during the period 21 March 2020 to 31 March 2021. This provision has now expired.

Law changes to help companies comply with their rules

Published 17 June 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Legislation passed in response to COVID-19, giving companies relief from certain obligations in their rules and making it possible for them to use electronic means, expired on 31 March 2021.

We’re accepting ‘remote’ declarations

Published 20 May 2020, updated 1 April 2021

In response to the need for physical distancing during COVID alert levels 2 to 4, the Companies Office will, as a temporary measure, accept statutory declarations that meet the requirements of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 but are taken by alternative means. This provision continues until further notice.

Insolvency relief for companies

Published 3 April 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) allows companies affected by COVID-19 disruptions to apply to get a month of protection while they talk to their creditors. During this period most creditors can’t take legal action to enforce their debts, for example, applying for your company to be liquidated. If your creditors agree, you can get a further 6 months of protection.

The BDH scheme was due to expire on 24 December 2020 but will now continue until 31 October 2021.

Learn more about Business Debt Hibernation

Credit Unions Register

Law changes to help credit unions comply with their rules

Published 17 June 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Legislation passed in response to COVID-19, giving credit unions relief from certain obligations in their rules and making it possible for them to use electronic means, expired on 31 March 2021.

Financial Service Providers Register

We’re accepting ‘remote’ declarations

Published 20 May 2020, updated 1 April 2021

In response to the need for physical distancing during COVID alert levels 2 to 4, the Companies Office will, as a temporary measure, accept statutory declarations that meet the requirements of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 but are taken by alternative means. This provision continues until further notice.

Friendly Societies Register

Law changes to help friendly societies comply with their rules

Published 17 June 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Legislation passed in response to COVID-19, giving friendly societies relief from certain obligations in their rules and making it possible for them to use electronic means, expired on 31 March 2021.

Insolvency relief for friendly societies

Published 3 April 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) allows friendly societies affected by COVID-19 disruptions to apply to get a month of protection while they talk to their creditors. During this period most creditors can’t take legal action to enforce their debts, for example, applying for your society to be liquidated. If your creditors agree, you can get a further 6 months of protection.

The BDH scheme was due to expire on 24 December 2020 but will now continue until 31 October 2021.

Learn more about Business Debt Hibernation

Incorporated Societies Register

Law changes to help incorporated societies comply with their rules

Published 17 June 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Legislation passed in response to COVID-19, giving incorporated societies relief from certain obligations in their rules and making it possible for them to use electronic means, expired on 31 March 2021.

Insolvency relief for incorporated societies

Published 3 April 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) allows incorporated societies affected by COVID-19 disruptions to apply to get a month of protection while they talk to their creditors. During this period most creditors can’t take legal action to enforce their debts, for example, applying for your society to be liquidated. If your creditors agree, you can get a further 6 months of protection.

The BDH scheme was due to expire on 24 December 2020 but will now continue until 31 October 2021.

Learn more about Business Debt Hibernation

Holding annual general meetings

Published 1 April 2020, updated 1 April 2021

During COVID alert levels 2 to 4, the need for physical distancing may require you to change the way you hold meetings, including your annual general meeting (AGM), or even to cancel some meetings.

If you need to make changes to your constitution or rules, especially in regard to the use of electronic means such as online meeting platforms, you may want to use our Constitution Builder tool .

Industrial and Provident Societies Register

Law changes to help industrial and provident societies comply with their rules

Published 17 June 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Legislation passed in response to COVID-19, giving industrial and provident societies relief from certain obligations in their rules and making it possible for them to use electronic means, expired on 31 March 2021.

Insolvency relief for industrial and provident societies

Published 3 April 2020, updated 1 April 2021

Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) allows industrial and provident societies affected by COVID-19 disruptions to apply to get a month of protection while they talk to their creditors. During this period most creditors can’t take legal action to enforce their debts, for example, applying for your society to be liquidated. If your creditors agree, you can get a further 6 months of protection.

The BDH scheme was due to expire on 24 December 2020 but will now continue until 31 October 2021.

Learn more about Business Debt Hibernation

Limited Partnerships Register

We’re accepting ‘remote’ declarations during COVID-19

Published 20 May 2020, updated 1 April 2021

In response to the need for physical distancing during COVID alert levels 2 to 4, the Companies Office will, as a temporary measure, accept statutory declarations that meet the requirements of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 but are taken by alternative means. This provision continues until further notice.

Insolvency relief for limited partnerships

Published 3 April 2020, updated 2 December 2020

Business Debt Hibernation (BDH) allows limited partnerships affected by COVID-19 disruptions to apply to get a month of protection while they talk to their creditors. During this period most creditors can’t take legal action to enforce their debts, for example, applying for your limited partnership to be liquidated. If your creditors agree, you can get a further 6 months of protection.

The BDH scheme was due to expire on 24 December 2020 but will now continue until 31 October 2021.

Learn more about Business Debt Hibernation

Retirement Villages Register

Holding meetings with residents

Published 9 April 2020, reviewed 1 April 2021

During COVID-19 Alert Levels 2 - 4 all operators and statutory supervisors of registered retirement villages are recommended to follow the practice note released 9 April 2020 when holding meetings with residents. Read the practice note for meetings [PDF 162KB] [PDF, 199 KB]

More information

business.govt.nz provides comprehensive guidance and information for New Zealand businesses impacted by COVID-19.

For everything you need to know about COVID-19 in one place, visit the Unite against COVID-19 website