Starting a new business is exciting, but it can be daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the process - and particularly if it’s in a new country. While The Emerald Isle is a friendly place for businesses, that doesn’t mean you can waltz through the formation process. Here are the 8 steps you’ll need to take in order to start a business in Ireland.
1. Write a business plan
The first step when starting a business anywhere, a business plan is the most important document you will ever write. It should include:
- Your pitch (i.e. what makes your business different)
- Your plans in the short, medium and long term
- Your niche market in Ireland and potential audience
- Your skills and experience
- Your preferred suppliers and contacts in Ireland
Your business plan should be a comprehensive document of all your goals, and everything you’re planning to achieve in Ireland in the future. A business plan is essential – not only to help you focus on your business mission – but also as a document that can be shown to a bank manager when trying to open a business bank account in Ireland. Banks need to see you’re serious about staying the course in the country so make sure you do your research about potential Irish customers and the Irish trade markets. It can also help if you find yourself on uncertain ground somewhere down the line in your first years of starting a business in Ireland. You can revert back to your business plan, which will help you see where you went off course and then help set you back on track.
2. Write your by-laws
By-laws consist of a Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association, which lay out your business structure and other information in detailed fashion. This will include some idea of your business type and its objectives, although this can be vague as long as you are not registering as a Designated Activity Company (DAC).
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As these are legal documents, they will need to be registered with either a lawyer or a company formation agent (the cheaper option!). It is possible to follow templates for both of these documents, but again, you may wish to seek help in writing them to ensure they are compliant.
3. Choose a location
This is both the most fun and most serious decision you’re going to make: where to set up your business! Dublin is a popular choice and has a great startup ecosystem, but like most European capitals, it’s fairly expensive.
Cork, Galway and Limerick are other popular choices with their own strengths and weaknesses. Consider the logistics available to you, internet speed and other amenities, and the availability of talent - local universities are a great source for employees.
Related article: The differences between starting a business in the UK and Ireland
Once you’ve found a location and a property, you’ll need to register your business address. This could be an office, warehouse, retail space, or anywhere else your business might be based. You could also use a registered address service to acquire an address without having a physical presence in the country.
4. Pick a company structure
Ireland is an extremely business friendly country, and there are few restrictions on setting up businesses, imports or foreign investment. You will however need to decide on the company structure you plan to incorporate under. The three most popular choices are:
- Private Limited Company (LTD)
The most popular choice and perfect for most small businesses. LTDs have no minimum threshold for share capital, but can have shareholders without needing an annual general meeting (AGM). They can be run by a single director as long as they are from inside the European Economic Area (EEA).
- Public Limited Company (PLC)
A popular choice for businesses looking to expand rapidly, PLCs can have unlimited shareholders, all of whom can be based overseas. PLCs must have at least two directors, must hold an AGM and must start with at least 25,000 euros in share capital.
Partnerships are a flexible category of company structure for individuals looking to go into business with a partner. The business can have limited liability, limited liability with tax relief, or unlimited liability depending on your preference and the nature of your business.
5. File with the CRO (Companies Registration Office)
This is the part where you actually register your company, and receive your Certificate of Incorporation! Your filing in Ireland should include:
- Your bylaws
- A list of directors and employees
- Details on your share capital
- Your registered office
- A description of your business activities
For a 25 euro deposit you can reserve your business name, although you will want to check that it is available at a much earlier stage. This stage of the process can take as little as three days, barring any hiccups.
6. Open a business bank account
Next, you’ll need to open a business bank account. While Ireland allows both residents and non-residents to open bank accounts, there is some due diligence involved. Limited companies need to provide a signed mandate from each director, while the owners of a Partnership will each need to provide relevant documents.
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In addition, you’ll also need to provide a signed Certificate of Incorporation, signed copies of your by-laws, social security forms, proof of identity, proof of economic ties to Ireland, and in some cases, both proof of character and a legal opinion.
7. Obtain a company seal
All businesses in Ireland require an official company seal. This doesn’t quite carry the weight of heraldry - instead, your seal is used to stamp documents, to prove that they’ve been approved by your Board of Directors.
Another requirement to consider here is the keeping of Statutory Records and Registers. These will record all of the legal and statutory matters relating to your business, including signed records of the minutes from all your meetings.
8. Register for taxes with the Revenue Commissioners
There are three taxes you will need to register for before you can legally operate as a business in Ireland:
- Corporation tax
- Social insurance
- Value Added Tax (VAT)
Once you’re on the Revenue Commissioners, they will automatically register you for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax, as well as and Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. Finally, you will be given a Tax Identification Number, allowing you to report your end-of-year taxes online.
For help with opening a business in Ireland including how to open an Irish business bank account, how to register a business name or address in Irelandor any other issues you may have including VAT services and tax advice, please contact us on 0033 (0)1 53 57 49 10 or email us from our contact page and we’d be delighted to help you.
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