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What is a common seal rubber stamp and why would your business need one?

The question the team at Self-Inking Stamps receive a lot is, “why is a common seal rubber stamp legally required?”

There have been some changes in 2023 and we will review and explain all the changes in this blog post. For some business entities it is yes and others it is no. Okay so that sounds confusing right? We will clarify all of this now. Let us split that out to;

  1. Is a common seal required for a New Zealand company? No.
  2. Is a common seal required for a New Zealand Incorporated society? Yes.

Are you sure about that? Yes, for a limited time only. Recent changes in legislature have meant this will change over the next two years. You need to do your homework and check when these changes will occur and what you need to do to comply.

There are some procedural changes required for a society to no longer need a common seal and the changes could shorten that timeline down from two years after 2024.

Do you need advice?

Don’t hesitate to call or email our Auckland office and we will reply within one business day.

What is a company common seal rubber stamp?

A company seal is a rubber stamp used to seal formal documents. By using the stamp to mark documents it is deemed a form of official approval from the company directors for that document. That stamp mark can wield a lot of power and should be in the care of a person who has the authority to use it. Often the seal is used alongside the signatures of the directors/shareholders/official officers.

A company common seal often has a few different ways of being described such as a; company seal, corporate seal or official seal. In the past these company common seals were a legal requirement. Especially if a company entered into a deed. Hence a deed was also called a contract under seal. With the introduction of the Companies Act 1993 a company common seal is no longer a requirement.

common seal rubber stamp

Common seal rubber stamp

  • Common seal rubber stamp sold with ink pad.
  • Traditional style wooden handle made in NZ.
  • Imprint size 38.8mm diameter maximum
  • Business logo can be used (vector file in pdf file).
  • Ask us for other ink colour options.

Why would I still need a company common seal rubber stamp?

Here at Self-Inking Stamps we get asked to make company seals for international trade. While New Zealand does not require a company common seal many countries overseas still require a common seal on the documentation for international trade. Most of the regions which we get feedback on are for; China, India, and other countries from Asia through to the Middle East.

We get very panicked customers contacting us urgently requiring a company common seal rubber stamp for their documents to make sure a contract can be completed. This is generally for international trade. Often even to load on board their products on a ship, their goods required all official documents to be presented with a company common seal. This creates a real urgency as the company common seal requirement could stop a major transaction for their business trade.

Can we make a rubber stamp in a day?

Well, most of the time yes, we can make a company common seal rubber stamp in less than a day.

company seal for contract

What information would a company seal contain?

There are no guidelines in New Zealand for company seal. Our advice is making it easy for the person on the receiving end to search. Companies are searchable on the internet at the New Zealand Companies Register. There are three items to identify the company, the name (full name), the number (registered number) and the NZBN (New Zealand business number).

Here anyone can search and establish if this is an actual company and is still operating. Plus, whom are directors and shareholders and contact details. The person searching can check the rubber stamp mark against these records and feel comfortable to trade with you.

We recommend the entire company name is used. Plus, the registration number. The NZBN number is often very long and just for space in the stamp design the registration number being shorter will fit better.

So, there you have it the only two items required, name and registration number. Everything else is your choice. See below for how to design your company seal.

What is a common seal?

For an incorporated society a common seal is a legal requirement in 2023. This rubber stamp mark is still required from the first meeting of your incorporated society. It is used if the society signs serious contracts like land purchasing. This is evidence that the society agrees to honour this commitment.

There are three requirements:

  1. The full name of the Society
  2. The number of the society
  3. The words common seal

Other than those three requirements above there are no other rules as to what this must look like.

How to design a common seal.

As there are no design requirements the world is your oyster. Anything goes. However, as the stamp mark will be around 40mm in size there are some requirements from the function of a rubber stamp that must be included in the design.

For a stamp there are some minimum sizes that are important.

Any font should be above 6.5 point in font size. While we do operate our laser engraving machine at higher than required dpi to achieve incredible detail the ink on rubber to ink on paper process still may not keep up. At 1,000 dpi engraving detail we have had fonts as small as 4 and 5 points actually work – we do not recommend that. I would call that risky and experimental. And then get super excited when it works.

We always discuss this with you at the time of design and before manufacture so you can make informed choices. However, a seal has legal requirements, and we believe you must be able to read the details. When the fonts get small the centres of the letters will often go solid. The ink can create a little bubble over hooped letters as the stamp leaves the ink pad source and transfer to the paper like that. It makes it aesthetically awful and can make it hard to read.

avoid stamp text blobs in small fonts

The other really important functional items for a stamp are line thickness. This also is in the reverse for gaps between lines or characters. Like above with the solid centres ink can bleed across small gaps between ink marks and obliterate that space that should be there.

Our rule of thumb is kept line thickness/gaps to no less than 0.2mm. Yes, that is how fine our machine can operate and get clarity of your design.

This also applies to the specific font you might like to use. We find the best stamp marks come from fonts with an even thickness anywhere on the letter. Like Arial or Calibri. If the font has one side thinner than the other there can be problems. Serif types of fonts are usual in this instance. The little serifs and the thin side of the letter can go less than 0.2mm in width at small font sizes.

How does that affect your stamp mark?

Often when thinner than 0.2mm the rubber can be marginally shorter due to the heat of the laser beam vaporising the rubber. This means when pushing on the paper that small part may not make contact and no ink transfers. Also, the area can be so thin not much ink gets onto the rubber and transfers to the paper.

In the design process we inspect the image required. If I see a line or letter than does not quite look thick enough then I zoom in. Often around 5,000% size and get an actual measurement. Is it thicker than 0.2mm?

At this point we can override the font or a vector image and add thickness to that part to get that minimum requirement. This all takes time in your stamp design which we do just to make sure your stamp will mark clearly like the design proof sheet we send to you for checking. This has usually all been done before you see that final design.

Can I use my logo in our common seal?

Yes, you can use a logo. Often these will work. It does take time to make sure we have a fully engravable vector image to use for the laser engraving process of the stamp rubber. As above line thickness is critical to a stamp mark being successful. An intricate logo shrunk down to around 30mm across can obliterate a highly detailed logo. Also, taglines underneath the graphic parts can go less than the 6.5-point size and also be obliterated.

Yes, we can remove those details and get a sort of summarised logo into the design. Often, we will change parts of the logo just to get a successful stamp mark. Sometimes we have to charge for this graphic design work if it is going to take too long to do in comparison to the usual time for a stamp of this value.

Can I use any ink colour?

Yes, you can. Things to consider are paper colour to ink colour. Will it stand out? Will the document be faxed and still be clear and readable? Okay I have not used a fax machine in about a decade now, but some are still using these. Likewise scanning to check that important mark is readable.

Often there are five standard ink colours for a stamp or ink pad. Black, Blue, Red, Green and Violet. If you require a colour that is not a standard colour, depending on the model, we can make an ink pad for you from our multi-colour stamp system. We have eleven extra colours from our multi-colour stamp system any of those colours are available for your common seal stamp design. Custom made ink pads do add cost to your custom-made rubber stamp.

Do you have any standard designs at Self-Inking Stamps?

With all the designs we have made over the years we have a few common design types that have been requested. When searching for a common seal in our website on each product are those 10 most common designs.

These are also accessible on our Help Guides page in the menu of the website.

Which common seal stamp to buy?

Here at self-inking stamps, we have currently four different versions of a common seal stamp.

There is the old type of custom hand stamp with a separate ink pad plus self-inking.

In the products there are two of the custom hand stamps, one with an ink pad and one without if you already have an ink pad.

common seal wooden handle

The two self-inking stamp types are specially chosen. Both can mark at around the 40mm size mark on paper. The one using the Shiny S542 is the most economical to buy stamp at the required size. Terrific stamp this and one of my favourites. It can produce any shape of image including the square body shape and the round common seal shape.

common seal s542

The second one is chosen as it is the right size plus has a special feature. It can be squashed down to the bottom like when stamping and then locked. A cap comes with the stamp and is clipped onto the end. This cap then stops ink transferring to everything that it touches. The helpful part is it is also now smaller and for travellers is easier to store in baggage. Very handy.

trodat 4642 round 2 1

Can a common seal be used on gloss paper?

The standard ink for a common seal is water based. This is perfect for copy paper. Or porous surfaces like cardboard and wood. But on gloss surfaces and plastic the water-based inks will not dry or stick. A solvent based ink will be required. Contact us to discuss the alternatives we have available.

What happens when the self-inking stamp runs out of ink?

Any self-inking stamp has two replaceable parts.

The standard ink in a self-inking stamp lasts for years. This ink often has special additives to ensure it does not dry out and can even absorb water from the atmosphere to keep it moist in certain situations. Amazing stuff. Often stamps come in here which are ten to fifteen years old and still stamping away happily. The stamp ink pad is usually capable of a few thousand prints before running out. For a common seal stamp that is pretty much its entire lifetime. They just are not used that much.

We do stock all the ink pads for these stamps or can get special ones in within a few days for you.

Likewise as we custom make rubber dies for the stamps we can also supply replacement rubber die for your common seal if you have a change. That might be that the company name may change for a merger. Or you have moved and need to change the name. This is possible. Contact us and we can then identify the stamp model and see if we can make a new die specifically for that model of stamp.

How long does it take to make a common seal?

For stamp timeline we generally have the following:

  1. One day for a proof, or a re-proof
  2. After acceptance of the design proof less than a day to manufacture
  3. After payment is received on the next courier for next working day delivery (Schools are not required to pay before shipment)

Most orders take three days to having it in your hands and going crazy with excitement stamping everything in sight. All right only some people get that excited. Even less so with a common seal.

However, we do get asked regularly how fast we can make a common seal. Often, we turn these urgent ones around within one day. If you contact us early in the day and pick up from the letterbox as you travel home from work this is possible to do. Not every day is this possible, but we do try to help as often as we can.

If you are unsure about how to order a common seal and need some guidance we are here to help. With many years of custom stamp manufacturing, we have seen many scenarios before and can give you guidance to the perfect custom-made stamp for your situation.

We are here to help with your questions.

Just ask us. If we have not made one before we can make one just for you. We custom make rubber stamps all day long. Why not get one to save you time in repetitive work, help your workflow, and reduce errors.

Or stay up to date with our latest news and promotions on our FacebookLinkedInTwitterGoogle and Instagram pages.

Customer Testimonials

They were so helpful, gave clear easy instruction which made ordering very quick & easy. All done with such speedy service. Highly recommended. Thank you.

Jenny Adams

Thanks to Antoinette for her wonderful, helpful and friendly assistance, and the designers for quickly producing and editing proof’s as requested. Great service and pricing. Delivery was superfast! 10/10 – thanks team!

Jasmine Milton

Thank you Antionette and Trent for going above and beyond on a last-minute project for me. Great people and great work!

Simone Ward

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