Starting a Business in Ireland

Posted on 10th August 2023
starting a business in Ireland

Starting a business in Ireland can be a daunting task that involves many tough decisions. But if you’re looking for a location that offers a thriving business environment and a skilled workforce, then look no further. Ireland ticks all the right boxes having built a reputation as a hub of international business and entrepreneurship over the last 20 years.

Why Consider Setting Up a Company In Ireland?

From its favourable tax regime and governmental support initiatives to its strategic location and access to the European market, Ireland has all the necessary ingredients for success. But it’s not just about the practical advantages. Ireland also offers a vibrant culture and a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit dedicated to fostering innovation and growth.

In fact, today there are over 1,000 well-known and emerging global companies from a wide range of business sectors located across Ireland. These include 9 of the top 10 global ICT companies and 8 of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies.  Its diverse economy nurtures a range of key sectors including technology, pharmaceuticals, financial services and manufacturing.

The positive approach and commitment of successive Irish governments have played a crucial role in attracting overseas business. Enterprise Ireland, the government agency tasked with supporting Irish businesses, invests in approximately 200 startups each year, offering a wealth of opportunities to companies of all sizes.

Ireland’s corporate tax benefits:

Ireland’s business-friendly environment has attracted companies from across the globe. A key advantage of starting a business in Ireland is the corporate tax rate of 12.5%, one of the lowest tax rates in Europe. This, coupled with a range of tax incentives and exemptions, is hugely attractive to businesses. In addition, Ireland has a well-developed network of double tax agreements with over 70 countries. These are designed to help reduce the tax burden for companies operating across international borders.

Moreover, the Irish legal system protects intellectual property rights and promotes a fair and transparent business environment, backed by a stable political and judicial system.

Access to European Markets:

Ireland flag and EU flag on sign posts

One of the greatest advantages of starting a business in Ireland is that through its membership in the European Union (EU), companies can access an enormous trading area, now calculated to be a market size of over 700 million consumers.  This access allows companies to sell products and services in all 27 EU countries without facing barriers or tariffs.

A well-developed transport infrastructure along with a reliable, fast broadband service ensures that businesses have the resources and connectivity to access and grow in global markets.

Skilled Irish Workforce:

Another key advantage to setting up a company in Ireland is its highly skilled, educated workforce. Ireland has an excellent education system that produces graduates with a strong work ethic and a “can-do” approach. All qualities which are highly sought-after by employers.

Government Business Supports & Initiatives:

The Irish government is committed to supporting businesses, attracting foreign direct investment and promoting economic growth. To this end, it offers advice, information and support to businesses of all sizes. These incentives include grants, tax credits and financial supports designed to reduce costs and improve competitiveness. Moreover, the government’s focus on fostering innovation has created a number of programmes and initiatives to aid startups. This includes a well-developed network of incubators, accelerators and research centres that provide entrepreneurs with the resources they need to turn their ideas into real, viable businesses.

Startup Research Check List:

Our startup research checklist provides a handy list of the issues you need to research when deciding whether to start a business in Ireland:

  • What is the right type of company structure – limited company, unlimited company, partnership or sole trader?
  • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of each type of company structure, for example, the different tax rates, tax reliefs, obligations and administration levels associated with each type of company
  • Evaluate the costs of setting up and maintaining the company in Ireland
  • Are there legal and regulatory requirements for the business’s services or products?
  • What is the tax regime and what are its implications for the company and its employees?
  • Forecast expected salary levels including the mandatory or typical voluntary employee benefits.
  • Are there local and national supports and potential funding available to businesses through public funding or other services?
  • Assess the resources required by the company – physical, infrastructural and technical, and (of course) the qualities required from the workforce – how does Ireland fit those requirements?
  • Does location in Ireland bring advantages when considering my business’s access to key markets?
starting a business pencil drawing of a rocket on a notepad

Starting A Business in Ireland – Step-by-Step Guide

Setting up a company in Ireland is a relatively straightforward process. It is important to plan your business in detail to ensure that you get the basics right from the very beginning. So, having chosen the type of company structure that best suits your business, you should carry out the following steps:

  • Register your company with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) – for instance, a limited company must register with Companies Registration Office first. Note that CRO has very useful, detailed information about the different types of company structure on its website. Registration includes providing the company constitution and details of directors and shareholders;
  • Register your business with Revenue for tax, obtain your tax number from the Revenue Commissioners;
  • Complete any other legal and regulatory requirements;
  • Set up a bank account in the company name;
  • Write a business plan which includes cash flow projections and an assessment of financing needs; and
  • Establish a relationship with banks, insurers, suppliers etc.

Although many of these steps are relatively simple, this is often a very stressful time for business owners.  That is why it is worth hiring an experienced accountant or business advisor at this stage. With the right guidance and expertise, starting a business in Ireland can be a smooth, worry-free experience. A trusted accountant will guide you smoothly through the business launch. Moreover, advice on minimising tax and the provision of accurate financial forecasting will prove invaluable during this phase.

Additional Supports For Setting Up a Company In Ireland

When setting up a company, one of the first steps is to familiarise yourself with the Local Enterprise Office.  In Ireland, there are 31 dedicated teams across the Local Authority network.

Their role is to provide a “First Stop Shop” for anyone seeking support on starting or growing a business in Ireland.  They offer a wide range of experience and services to entrepreneurs, early-stage promoters, startups and small businesses looking to expand.

In addition to supports such as training programmes and mentoring, the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) also provide financial support in the form of feasibility study grants, business expansion grants etc.


Ireland offers a unique combination of factors that make it the perfect location for setting up your company. However, there is one other significant factor to consider – quality of life!  Work/life balance is extremely important – employee satisfaction is increased and hence productivity. This is a “win-win” situation for both employees and employers. As you can see, Ireland performs pretty well in this regard according to the OECD Better Life Index.

Our track record in the provision of international business services stretches back to 1997. During this time we have worked with international companies setting up their business in Ireland and Irish companies expanding abroad. Consequently, we have the expertise to guide you through the challenges of starting a business. Our approach is to work in partnership with you to ensure your success. If you need advice with starting a business in Ireland, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

o’donnell+co provides a full range of accounting services backed by fast, professional customer service as well as sound business and financial advice.

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