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Setting Up a Company In Ireland As a Non-Irish Citizen

Are you looking to establish a company in Ireland, but you are not an Irish citizen? The rewards of expanding into the Irish economy can be numerous, but it is important to ensure you comply with the country’s laws.

IAS can provide support to set up your new enterprise in Ireland and advise on various legal issues. Contact us on +353 061 518 025 or use our online chat.

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    Overview of Setting Up a Company in Ireland

    Starting a new company can be a daunting experience, especially if you are planning to operate in a country that is not your national home.

    However, Ireland is an attractive location for many international business people and can bring many advantages for those looking to expand their customer basis or set up a new firm from scratch.

    In many cases, it is beneficial to hire an immigration expert to ensure that a new enterprise complies with Irish laws and that you have the correct permissions to work in Ireland.

    Contact IAS for more information on the legal process for starting and establishing a successful business in Ireland.

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    Why Open a Company In Ireland?

    There are a number of benefits to creating a business in Ireland, making it attractive for entrepreneurs from around the world.

    In particular, overseas investors may find the favourable tax rates a major draw. Ireland currently has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the European Union, with a standard rate of 12.5 per cent.

    This can play an important role for start-up businesses looking to maximise returns and reduce taxation costs in those early years of operation.

    There are many incentives for research and development (R&D) activities, including tax credits and grants aimed at fostering innovation and technology-driven growth available in Ireland.

    Ireland also offers a relatively business-friendly regulatory system with a reputation for minimal red tape, especially when setting up a new company or organisation.

    However, this does not mean there are not key legal processes that must be followed by all companies operating in the country.

    Many start-up businesses also choose Ireland as a base for their operations because of the country’s educated and skilled workforce.

    In particular, Ireland has invested heavily in innovation and technology in recent years. Hence, there is a wealth of experienced and talented workers that could help provide the necessary knowledge for a new company.

    The location of Ireland is also a major advantage for businesses. As well as being a member of the European Union, the country is geographically well-located with established trading routes to the rest of Europe, Asia, the US and Africa.

    Ireland boasts several international ports and airports, which could help with company logistics.

    Apart from day-to-day business activities, Ireland also offers a high quality of life, with good healthcare and education, that makes it attractive for anyone looking to begin a new adventure.

    Make sure you meet all legislative requirements concerning your business in Ireland. Speak with our advisors today. Contact us

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      How To Open a Company In Ireland As a Non-Irish Citizen


      How you set up a company in Ireland will depend on the form your business will take and your current nationality.

      In addition, if your company has already been formed and you are just looking to set up a new branch or division then this will change the process that is required.

      If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you do not need permission to set up a business in Ireland.

      However, if you are a third-country national looking to create a new business in Ireland then you will likely need to apply for permission to do so via certain pathways, such as the Irish Immigrant Investor Programme or Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme.

      Different Types of Companies In Ireland

      When setting up a new enterprise it is vital to consider what format your business will take as this can have far-reaching significance when operating in Ireland. You should pick the company structure that most meets and matches the needs of the business.

      The most common types of companies that can be established in Ireland are:

      • Private Company Limited by Shares (LTD)
      • Designated Activity Company (DAC)
      • Public Limited Company (PLC)
      • Limited Partnership (LP)
      • Branch Office
      • Sole Trader
      • Partnership

      Private Company Limited by Shares (LTD)

      The most common type of company in Ireland is a Private Company Limited by Shares, also known as an LTD company.

      The benefit of this structure is that it limits the liability of shareholders and does not have a restriction on the number of shareholders. Opting for an LTD company also means there is no share capital requirement.

      When setting up an LTD it is important to be aware of the financial requirements, including filing annual finance statements with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) in Ireland.

      Designated Activity Company (DAC)

      A Designated Activity Company (DAC), previously known as a Private Limited Company, is for companies with some restrictions on their activities outlined in the company constitution.

      Each DAC must have two directors and an appointed secretary and file annual financial statements with the CRO. A key advantage of a DAC structure is that different classes of shares can be issued, and shareholders have limited liability.

      Public Limited Company (PLC)

      A Public Limited Company (PLC) can offer shares to the public and can be listed on a stock exchange. Each PLC must have a minimum share capital of 25,000 euros and at least two company directors.

      However, PLCs in Ireland are subject to an increased level of regulatory requirements with a higher amount of reporting compliance. If you wish to set up a PLC then you may wish to seek advice from a lawyer to ensure your new company meets the required obligations.

      Limited Partnership (LP)

      A Limited Partnership (LP) is often the choice for those setting up investment funds or real estate ventures. This structure means one partner will have unlimited liability, while one or more limited partners will have their liability limited to the amount of their investment.

      All LPs in Ireland must register with the CRO and there has been a strong growth in the number of LPs created in Ireland, especially following the UK leaving the European Union.

      Branch Office

      When an overseas company sets up an office in Ireland to offer products or services within the country this is referred to as a branch office structure. Each branch created must register with the CRO and follow all Irish business and tax laws.

      Sole Trader

      Often seen as the most straightforward business structure, a sole trader is an individual who creates a company under their own name or a registered business name.

      The owner is personally responsible for all debts and obligations. A sole trader must register for income tax and may need to pay VAT if turnover reaches a certain level.


      A partnership structure consists of at least two individuals who operate a business jointly. Each partnership should be created under an agreement that outlines the responsibility of each partner as well as details of the profit-sharing arrangements. All partners are personally liable for any arising debts and all legal obligations.

      It can be a challenge starting a new business and you could face even more difficulties if you are launching a new enterprise as a non-Irish citizen. Therefore, you may want to consult with an immigration expert to ensure you comply with all the requirements.

      Applying to Start a Business in Ireland as a Non-Irish Citizen


      If looking to start a business in Ireland the first step is to establish if you will need permission to live and work there. Irish immigration allows citizens from the EU, EA and UK plus Swiss nationals to enter the country freely without needing a visa.

      However, all other foreign nationals should ensure they have the correct entry permissions before travelling to Ireland to set up a new company.
      In such a case, a non-Irish citizen must apply and be granted permission via the Immigrant Investor Programme or the Start-up Entrepreneur pathway.

      Immigrant Investor Programme

      The Irish Government closed the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) to further applications on 15 February 2023. If you were planning to apply then reach out to IAS for advice on what your next steps could be to create a business in Ireland.

      The route was designed to attract overseas investors and entrepreneurs to Ireland to help boost the country’s economy and job market. All applicants must meet a number of conditions, including creating an organisation that will lead to job opportunities and benefit Ireland as a whole.

      For those applying via the Immigrant Investor Programme route, they must invest via at least one of the following options:

      • Endowment – make a minimum investment of €1 million in a project benefiting the arts, sports, health, culture, or education.
      • Enterprise Investment – contribute at least €1 million to an Irish enterprise for a minimum of three years, leading to the creation or maintenance of at least ten jobs.
      • Investment Fund – invest at least €1 million in an approved investment fund for at least three years.
      • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) – requires a minimum investment of €2 million in any Irish REIT listed on the Irish Stock Exchange for a minimum of three years.
      • Mixed Investment – this can be a combination of any of the previous options with a minimum total investment of €1 million.

      If approved for the Immigrant Investor Programme, the applicant can bring dependents to Ireland. A spouse/partner and children under the age of 18 are granted residency rights initially for two years. However, the permission can be extended every two years as long as the investment remains in place and meets all the requirements of the programme.

      Although the Immigrant Investor Programme does not automatically serve as a route to Irish citizenship beyond such residency rights, many holders of the permission and their family members do become eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalisation after meeting residency requirements and other criteria.

      Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)

      Another alternative for an overseas national looking to establish a new business in Ireland is the Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP). The Irish government created this route to attract foreign entrepreneurs looking to create an innovative company that would boost job creation in the region.

      Anyone planning to apply via the STEP route will need to prove they have an innovative business idea and that at least 50,000 euros will be used to create the new company.

      Each proposed enterprise must meet the requirements to be classed as a High Potential Start-Up, so the applicant will need to demonstrate the following:

      • Will introduce a new product or service to worldwide markets.
      • Able to create at least ten jobs in Ireland and achieve at least 1 million euros within three to four years.
      • Based and controlled in Ireland as well as being operated by an experienced and knowledgeable team.
      • Linked to manufacturing or internationally demanded services.

      Businesses within the retail, catering or personal services industries do not qualify and will result in applicants being rejected.

      Once approved for the STEP route, applicants are granted residence permission for two years. They can also bring their immediate dependents with them to Ireland. This applies to partners/spouses and unmarried children 18 and under. There are some exceptions for older children and you should seek legal advice to help if you wish to relocate with other family members.

      It is possible to extend the initial residence permission for an additional three years to a total of five years. After this period, STEP members can apply for long-term residence in Ireland and eventually citizenship if they wish.

      Apply to the STEP Route

      The first step to applying for the STEP route is to ensure your business idea qualifies as a high-potential enterprise. You will also need a comprehensive business plan available for the Irish immigration services.

      The plan must contain proposed details such as your business objectives, market analysis, target customers, products or services, marketing strategy, operational plan, and financial projections. Overall, the business plan should demonstrate the viability and potential for growth of your startup.

      As well as the business plan, you will be required to submit a range of supporting paperwork including:

      • Valid passport
      • Evidence of qualifications and experience including a CV and education certificates
      • Proof of financial resources to demonstrate you can support the business during the start-up phase. This can be in the form of bank statements, investment statements or proof of asset ownership
      • A clean criminal record check and, if applicable, references from former employers
      • Proof of health insurance for the applicant and any accompanying dependents
      • Completed application forms
      • Recent colour passport photos

      You will also need to pay the 350 euros fee for the application. This may be non-refundable if your application is rejected, so you should ensure you have completed the application correctly and submitted all required paperwork.

      Contact us on +353 061 518 025 or use our online chat if you need further advice on the STEP initiative.

      Our team of business immigration lawyers can help with setting up your business in Ireland. Contact Us

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        Hiring / Bringing Staff to Ireland

        As your business develops, you will likely expand, which usually involves recruiting new or additional staff members.

        If you already have a company overseas, you may wish to send some of your employees there to Ireland. This could be as a temporary posting to create a new branch or office, conduct market research, or oversee a certain project.

        UK-settled workers have the right to work and live in Ireland without the need for an additional visa under the Common Travel Area arrangement. Non-EU nationals who have the right to live and work in the UK can also be sent to Ireland by their employer.

        If you are planning to recruit non-UK, non-EU or non-EEA workers then it is likely you will need to obtain the correct work permits or visas to ensure all staff are legally allowed to be employed in Ireland.

        The exact nationality of the candidates and the nature of their roles, will determine which permit or visa is the most suitable.

        Corporate buildings by waterfront in Dublin, Ireland

        Setting Up a Company In Ireland From UK

        If you are a UK citizen it is possible to set up a company in Ireland from the UK. Once you have chosen the correct business structure, who will need to register the company name.

        This is done via the Companies Registration Office (CRO) in Ireland. Your chosen name must be unique and not already registered with the CRO.

        You must determine who will serve as directors and shareholders of your Irish company. In Ireland, a private company must have at least one director and one shareholder. Directors must be individuals over the age of 18 and not disqualified from holding the position.

        The next step is to compile all the necessary company documents, including the memorandum and articles of association. These documents outline the company’s constitution, rules, and regulations governing its operation and management.

        You must then register with the CRO. You will need to do this online or via the post and pay the appropriate fee and submit the correct documentation.

        A key step to setting up your new business in Ireland is to ensure you register with the country’s Revenue Commissions as part of complying with all the necessary legal and regulatory requirements.

        Further obligations include keeping up-to-date records, filing annual returns and following all Irish immigration requirements.

        If you are unclear or require further help with ensuring your new firm is compliant with all legal legislation then reach out to IAS and our team of advisors can answer any questions you may have.

        How Can IAS Help?

        Starting a new business in a new country can be challenging, but at IAS we can provide support on how to turn your plans into a reality.

        Whether you are opting for a partnership or establishing a limited company in Ireland, our team of experts can offer advice on the best way to maximise success.

        As well as the initial setup process, we can help in recruiting overseas staff as your business starts to grow and develop. We also offer guidance in meeting the day-to-day compliance required for all businesses operating in Ireland.

        Get in touch with IAS today at +353 061 518 025, or contact us via our online chat.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  Yes, having an Irish bank account is typically necessary for working and managing finances in Ireland. While it may be possible for some employers to pay wages into non-Irish bank accounts, having a local bank account offers several advantages, such as convenience and lower day-to-day fees.

                  Yes, it is possible to transfer a UK limited company to another country, but the process and feasibility depend on several factors, including the laws and regulations of both the UK and the destination country. You should contact an immigration expert for further information on specific requirements.

                  Using a personal bank account for business in Ireland is not usually recommended due to tax regulations and business compliance rules.

                  All Irish registered companies are legally required to have an Irish address and PO Box addresses are not permitted. The registered address does not have to be the same as your company’s office.

                  There are many benefits to setting up a company in Ireland, including a low 12.5 per cent rate of corporate tax. In addition, there is an attractive 25 per cent Research and Development tax credit over a three-year period for qualifying businesses.