Finding information on starting a business


You can get advice on starting a business and becoming self-employed from a range of sources. This page explains where to find information on starting a business, including the organisations and agencies that can help.

You can also read about:

Websites on setting up a business

You can visit the following websites for information on starting a business:

Website: For information on: How to register a business name How to get an appropriate licence or permit for your business (for example, a Manufacturer's Licence or a Publican’s Licence) Information on setting up a business across a wide range of sectors An online ‘SME Search’ tool, which asks you 7 questions to help you find supports for your business Information and links to upcoming business events and webinars The latest news and newsletters relevant to SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in Ireland and Europe How to set up for tax as an employer How to set up a business with employees Information on the main regulations affecting your business (for example, health and safety regulations and financial regulations) Information for specific sectors (for example, guides on consumer law or food safety) -

the Enterprise Europe Network


Information on growing your business internationally Information and links to upcoming business events and webinars A database of international partners, with whom you can manufacture, distribute, co-develop and supply your products, ideas and business

Relevant Government departments and agencies

If you are becoming self-employed or starting a business, you can contact a number of Government departments and agencies for advice, including:

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) is responsible for implementing laws and policies relating to business (such as the Companies Act 2014). DETE has a role to promote and enforce fair competition in the marketplace. It also oversees the protection of workers and consumers.

You can visit DETE’s website for a range of services, including the ‘Employment Permits Online System’, supports for SMEs, and information on working remotely.

Department of Social Protection

When you start a business or become self-employed, you pay a different rate of PRSI (pay-related social insurance), called Class S PRSI. The Department of Social Protection is responsible for PRSI, and you can visit their website for information on your contributions as an employer or self-employed person.

If you are getting social welfare and want to become self-employed

The Department of Social Protection has many social welfare offices around Ireland, called Intreo centres. If you are getting a jobseeker's payment and want to set up your own business, contact your local Intreo centre for advice.

You can also read about the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, which helps people getting certain social welfare payments to become self-employed.

Revenue has information about your tax obligations. For example, you can read the Guide to Self-Assessment and the Starting and running a business guide for information on tax when becoming self-employed and setting up a business.

Revenue also has information about employing people, such as your tax obligations when you hire and pay employees, and what to do if their employment ends.

Workplace Relations Commission

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) website has information on:

  • Rights and responsibilities of employers and their employees
  • Employment equality legislation
  • Industrial relations
  • Complaint procedures

The WRC Inspection Service monitors employment conditions through its inspectors. It can also enforce compliance and seek redress for breaches of employment rights.

You can contact the WRC’s Information and Customer Service online and by phone. Or, download the WRC’s range of employment guides and booklets.

Companies Registration Office

The Companies Registration Office (CRO) has information about registering a business name, setting up a company and filing annual tax returns. You can also find information about registering a foreign company in Ireland.

Local Enterprise Offices

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) support local businesses that are starting up or in development. LEOs can also support sole traders, firms and community groups. The projects must be commercially viable (able to make a profit), or have the ability to become commercially viable. Visit the Local Enterprise website for information on:

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is responsible for the growth of Irish businesses across world markets. They offer a range of grants, vouchers and schemes, as well as advice for start-up businesses.

IDA (Ireland)

The IDA (Industrial Development Agency) Ireland is responsible for securing new investment from overseas in manufacturing and internationally-traded services sectors.

It can provide information about setting up a business in Ireland, as well as management consultancy and training for staff. IDA may also provide grants to companies who want to locate in Ireland or expand their existing operations in Ireland.


You can visit the Pobal website for information on management and support services in the areas of inclusive employment and enterprise, as well as social inclusion and equality.

The Health and Safety Authority

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) enforces occupational safety and health law. It also promotes accident prevention, while providing advice on health and safety in the workplace.

Visit the HSA website for information on:

Finding the representative body for your sector

The following organisations provide their members with advice and information about running a business:

IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) is the national umbrella organisation for business and employers. It offers support and advice to employers.

ISME (The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association) is the independent organisation for the small and medium business sector.

SFA (Small Firms Association) represents the needs of small enterprises (that is, companies with less than 50 employees).

Back for Business is a development programme which supports returning emigrants to start and develop business in Ireland. The programme is open to:

  • People who lived abroad for at least a year and have returned to Ireland in the last 3 years
  • Emigrants currently living abroad who are planning to return to Ireland in the near future

Specific economic areas

The following organisations may be able to help you if you want to start a business in their sector.

Organisation Relevant businesses or sector
Bord Bia Food, drink and horticulture companies looking for export assistance
Bord Iascaigh Mhara Companies in the seafood industry
Design & Crafts Council Ireland Companies in the design and crafts sector
Fáilte Ireland Companies in the tourism industry
Restaurants Association of Ireland Restaurants, cafés and gastropubs
Teagasc Businesses in the agri-food industry
The National Parks & Wildlife Service Zoos and businesses working with animals or wildlife
Údarás na Gaeltachta Companies located in the Gaeltacht
Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Pub and bar owners

Getting information about finance and credit

Microfinance Ireland provides loans to small businesses with no more than 10 employees, including sole traders and start-ups.

Difficulties accessing credit

The Central Bank has published a revised Code of Conduct for Business Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (pdf).

If you have a small or medium business and your application for credit is refused by one of the participating banks, you can apply to the Credit Review Office to have your case reviewed.

The Credit Guarantee Scheme encourages additional lending to small and medium businesses who are commercially viable but have difficulty accessing credit. Under the Scheme, eligible applicants will be helped to get a loan and build up favourable credit history. Find out more in the Scheme’s information booklet.

You can also read the Customer Frequently Asked Questions (pdf).

Further information on starting a business

If your business is having difficulties and you have fewer than 10 employees, you can apply to the Small Business Advice Programme for free advice.

The Chartered Accountants Voluntary Advice service (CAVA) can give free advice and assistance on your business affairs such as bookkeeping, business debts, VAT or payroll issues. Call (01) 6377218 or email

You can also contact your local Citizens Information Centre or local MABS office.

Page edited: 6 September 2021