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Setting up a business in Ireland

30 October 2009
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 01 November 2009

An overview of the process of starting a new business in Ireland.


Legal requirements

To set up a business in Ireland, entrepreneurs need to choose between several company types:

Private company limited by shares where liability is limited to the amount unpaid on the shares held by its members;

Private company limited by guarantee having a share capital where liability is limited to the amount the members have undertaken to contribute to the assets of the company;

Unlimited company - Public/Private where liability of the members is unlimited;

Public Limited Company where liability is limited by shares - it must have at least seven members and a minimum nominal capital of €38,092;

Public Company Limited by Guarantee and not having a Share Capital where liability is limited to the amount its members have undertaken to contribute to the assets of the company, in the event of its being wound up;

Undertakings for collective investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) - these are Public Limited Companies formed under EC Regulation and the Companies Acts (1963- 2005). Their sole object is collective investment in transferable securities of capital raised from the public and which operation on the principle of risk-spreading;

European Economic Interest Groupings (EEIC) - these are mechanisms through which business within the EU can engage in cross-border commerce. The purpose of an EEIG is to facilitate or develop the economic activities of its members;

European Company - more formally known by its Latin name 'Societas Europeae' this company can operate on a Europe-wide basis and be governed by EU law directly applicable in all member countries.

Company types

As well as smooth start-up procedures, any successful new business requires a sound commercial strategy and secure financing.

Access to finance — Ireland

Administrative procedures

Conditions in Ireland are favourable to budding entrepreneurs who can set up shop in only five days at an average cost of €50 for a private limited company.

Information leaflet on company incorporation

While Ireland has not yet established a fully functional one-stop-shop for start-ups, it does have a single online access point for businesses. This website called Business access to state information and services (BASIS) is run by Ireland's department of enterprise, trade & employment and delivers comprehensive government information and services to businesses. There is also a one-stop shop for start-ups in the Shannon region.

One-stop-shop for the Shannon region

A nation-wide one-stop shop that would allow entrepreneurs interested in doing business in the services sector to carry out all the necessary procedures - including registration, tax, VAT and social security - at once and at one administrative point should be in place by 29 December 2009. This will offer service sector start-ups a single person of contact to help with formalities and will make it possible for entrepreneurs to step up shop at a distance, online.

In Ireland, it is the Companies Registration Office which is responsible for the incorporation of companies and the registration of business names. It enforces the Companies Acts in relation to the filing obligations of companies and makes information available for public inspection. Any person may form an incorporated company through the Companies Registration Office by subscribing his/her name to a Memorandum of Association and by complying with the requirements of the Companies Acts.

Companies Registration Office

Company law

Transposition of EU company law into Irish law

Before applying to register an entity with the Companies Registration Office, entrepreneurs must first register the name of their business if it differs from their own name. Once this is done, the registration forms must be filled out and sent within one month of the adoption of the business name. The registrar issues a registration certificate for each business name registered.

Registration methods

The Companies Registration Office allows entrepreneurs to register online and to track the progress of the registration process. Three main forms must be submitted in order to form a company, these are: the memorandum of association; articles of association; form A1.

Downloadable forms

The registration process will vary slightly depending on the type of company to be set up.


Enterprise Ireland is the government agency responsible for the development and promotion of Ireland's business sector. It has five main areas of activity: achieving export sales; investing in research and innovation; competing through productivity; starting up & scaling up; driving regional enterprise.

Enterprise Ireland

EI assistance for international companies

Irish success stories

Starting a business in Ireland

This website serves as a guide for start-ups, covering issues such as getting into business and implementing a business plan.

Starting a Business in Ireland

Assistance section

Business access to state information and services (BASIS) delivers government information and services to businesses online. The information is structured around the lifecycle of a business, such as starting up and employing staff.


Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment


Seed & Venture Capital Programme

The 2007-2012 seed and venture capital programme was launched to improve access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises. Enterprise Ireland is investing €175 million under this programme.

Seed & Venture Capital Programme 2007 report

Transform Programme

The Transform Ideas Into Businesses Programme is a one year business incubation programme funded by the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation and run by Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland. It provides ambitious entrepreneurs, with an idea for an export-focused business, with the necessary business skills, expertise, contacts, networks and facilities to establish successful businesses.

Transform Programme

Personalised help and advice

The Enterprise Europe Network provides businesses with information and advice through its local partners.

Enterprise Europe Network – contact points – Ireland

SOLVIT helps businesses deal with problems that arise when national authorities wrongly apply EU market rules.

SOLVIT – contact points – Ireland

Source: European Commission

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