Your Go-To Resource

Business Trade & Investment Board (BTIB) is committed to supporting your new business venture and we want to work together with you to get the best outcome. After all, we want you to be successful. Our Cook  Islands Government would like to encourage indigenous Cook Islanders to start your own business and by doing this, you will be creating opportunities and contributing to the Cook Islands’ economic growth.  Well done for taking the first step! 

With an easy-to-navigate website, the Business One Stop Shop is the go-to resource that connects and guides you through all stages of development — from planning and startup to operating and expanding your business. Whether seeking information about registering a business, taxes, business banking, startup business resource, and more, BTIB’s Business One-Stop Shop can help provide some answers to your business-related questions.  Please note:  The information provided in this section serves as a Guide Only and a resource for those looking to start a business in the near future.   

Below is your starting point. 

1. Business Compliance

2. Registering your Business – Sole Trader | Partnership | Limited Liability Company

3. Choosing your Business Structure

4. Other Licenses or Permits you may need for your Business

5. Tax Registration, PAYE, Income Tax and how to register for an RMD number

6.  Testing my Business Idea

7. Keeping Records for your Business and Tax purposes

8.  Starting a Business Plan

9. Business Banking 

10. Cook Islands Superannuation

Want a PDF copy of this?  Here you go!  We’ve made it easier for you – download the Business One Stop Shop – A Business Guide.

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1. Business Compliance

This section will help outline some of the standard laws and regulations that a business is required to comply with like taxes, business registration and more.  Business compliance is the process of making sure your business and employees (if you have employees) follow the laws, regulations, standards, and ethical practices that apply to your business. This guide is also intended to be used as a supporting resource.

2. Registering your Business

Why Register your Business?

  • Registering your company enhances the reputation and perception of your business.  It also shows that you are in this for the long haul.
  • Registering your company name helps you start creating a brand identity.
  • If you expect your revenue to top over $40,000 a year, you will need to register for Value Added Tax (VAT) account with Revenue Management Department at Ministry of Finance & Economic Management (MFEM), which requires you to have registered your business.
  • Your business might need: the right business bank account to accept payments, pay suppliers, and keep your business income separate from your personal accounts; a business credit card to charge expenses; or a loan to expand. When applying for financial services for your business you will need proof that you are operating a viable business (among other things). 

These are some good reasons why you should consider registering your business. It makes the business real for you and keeps you focused: Having a formal business will encourage you to dedicate your energy towards it. You can be proud of the fact that you’re a business owner – it’s no longer just an idea or a hobby.

If you have know what business structure you want for your business, choose the options below to help you get setup.

Are you setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC)? Click below to help you setup as an LLC.

3. Choosing your Business Structure

What business structure do you plan to use?

Are you a sole trader? Partnership or Company? 

The legal structure you choose for your business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability.  Choosing the right structure for your business is important.  Click on “Choose your Business Structure” for more details to help you decide. Use this as a guide only.

4. Licenses | Permits | Regulations

Will you need licenses for your business? 

Depending on your type of business, you may need a liquor license, a food license and other licenses. 

Take a look in this section to find the licenses, registrations or permits that apply to your business type and industry. View our checklist just to make sure you have all the correct licenses or permits. 

5. Tax Registration

What you pay and when you pay it depends on how much you earn, your business structure and whether or not you have employees.  When you have decided on what type of business you are; Sole Trader / Partnership or Company, there are things you should consider when it comes to paying business taxes. 

This section can help you understand Tax Registration, PAYE (Pay as you earn), Income Tax, and how to register for a RMD number.  Follow these steps to help you get familiar with Taxes in the Cook Islands. 

6. Test your Business Idea

You have a great idea and want to start a business. But do you have what it takes to make it a success? Every year, more new small businesses fail than succeed. But that shouldn’t stop you — test your idea and yourself by answering these questions.  This is a Guide to help you start your Business.

7. Keeping Records

Every business must keep records for as long as required by the law. It is important to do so as MFEM may request to see past records if there is any issue regarding your tax. 

Make sure you keep all documents that contain details of payments, receipts, purchases and sales, business assets and liabilities. We have provided you with a few tips on how to keep records for your business.

8. Starting a Business Plan

A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. The purpose of a business plan is to help you get organized and plan what you want to achieve including your important business goals and objectives.

Good business plans are usually detailed and include information on all aspects of your business, including the industry, marketing, finance like cashflow and/or sales forecast, personnel and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis. It will also help you understand how you are tracking.

9. Business Banking

There are many things that you have to consider when you are growing your business and you want to use a bank for your business transactions. You may have already had your own personal bank account and may have used it temporarily for your business. We highly recommend that you upgrade or set up a new business bank account. Here are some tips to help you get started when opening a business bank account.

10. Business Superannuation

The Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund (CINSF) is a an important part of the Cook Islands policy on retirement income. The policy is a traditional three pillar approach consisting of:

  • first tier – a basic universal pension provided to eligible Cook Islanders by either the Government of the Cook Islands (available from 60 years) or the Government of New Zealand (available from 65 years);
  • second tier – income derived from a mandatory saving through the CINSF (available from 55 years); and
  • third tier – income or wealth from voluntary savings through either additional contributions to the CINSF or some other form of retirement savings which are undertaken privately.

CINSF is compulsory for you and your employees. To find out more information, click below.