Starting a business

Introduction

If you are thinking about starting a business, there are supports available to help you with planning, getting set up and funding and finance.

You should consider the regulations that apply (for example, in relation to paying tax and hiring employees), and the range of financial supports available to you.

Whether you are currently employed, unemployed, or coming from outside Ireland to set up a business, this page covers some of these important topics.

Read more about becoming self-employed, or visit our page about sources of information on starting a business.

You can also visit your Local Enterprise Office for advice on how to start, grow and develop your business. There are 31 Local Enterprise Offices in Ireland who work with micro-enterprises and sole traders. Enterprise Ireland gives support and advice to larger start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). See more below on ‘Where to get advice on starting a business’.

If you are a foreign national

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

If you are a non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss national and you want to open a business or invest in Ireland, you can apply for permission under the Immigration Investor Programme and Start Up Entrepreneur Programme.

Read more about coming to set up a business or invest in Ireland.

Budget 2023

It was announced in Budget 2023 that the Earned Income Tax Credit will increase by €75 to €1,775 for 2023.

Deciding on the legal structure of your business

The type of legal structure you choose depends on the kind of business you are running, who you will do business with, and your attitude to risk.

You should get advice from a solicitor or accountant when considering the structure for your business. Get contact details for solicitors in Ireland on the Law Society website.

You can set up your business as:

  • A sole trader
  • A partnership
  • A limited company

Sole trader

If you choose to be a sole trader, you are ‘self-employed’ and you do not have a business partner. You are personally responsible for the business.

Your main legal duty is to register as a self-employed person with Revenue (see the section on ‘Tax and PRSI’ below). If you want to use a business name, you must register your business name with the Companies Registration Office (CRO).

While it is relatively simple to set up as a sole trader, your personal assets could be used to pay your creditors if your business fails.

Partnership

A partnership is where you set up your business with 1 or more people (known as ‘partners’). Each partner is jointly responsible for running the business, and each partner must pay income tax, PRSI and USC on their share of the profits.

If the business fails, all partners are jointly responsible for the debt.

Your partnership agreement should be drawn up by a solicitor.

Limited company

If you set up your business as a limited company, you and your business are seen as separate entities. In general, this means that if the company gets into debt, the creditors only have a claim on the assets of the company (not your personal assets).

To set up a limited company, you must register with the Companies Registration Office (CRO). Your company must then return reports and accounts to the CRO each year. Register your business name and file your company returns online using the CRO’s CORE (Companies Online Registration Environment).

Different types of companies

Under the Companies Act 2014, private companies limited by shares can be registered as either:

  • An LTD (private company limited by shares)
  • A DAC (Designated Activity Company)

Read more about the requirements for different types of companies on the CRO website.

How to get funding

If you are starting a business, you can apply for funding and grants from a range of sources. For example:

Microfinance Ireland

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

The loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 are for commercially viable business proposals. Register your interest in getting a small business loan using the online form on microfinancereland.ie.

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs)

Your Local Enterprise Office offers a range of financial supports, depending on your business needs. For example:

Your business need:

Financial support from Enterprise Ireland:

Researching the market demand for your product or service, and examining its sustainability
Getting your small business started
Expanding your start-up business after 18 months
Exploring and developing new market opportunities
Getting your business set up online

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland helps Irish businesses to start-up and expand. It offers a range of financial supports, depending on your business needs. For example:

Your business need:

Financial support from Enterprise Ireland:

Getting your business set up online
Accelerating the growth of your start-up
Making your business eco-friendly

SEAI

You can also apply to the SEAI for business grants, specifically to reduce your business’ carbon footprint. For example:

Your business need:

Financial support from Enterprise Ireland:

Switch your company car(s) to electric vehicles
Improve the energy efficiency of your premises

Read more about the supports for businesses going green.

Government funding for employers

The Government has a number of financial schemes to help employers. Depending on your circumstances and the type of employees you hire, you may be eligible for:

Get more information about funding from your Local Enterprise Office or your local Intreo centre.

You may also be eligible for tax relief – see ‘Tax, PRSI and employing staff’ below.

If you are currently unemployed

If you are currently unemployed and want to start a business, you may be eligible for the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) or the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance (STEA).

You may also get extra supports under these schemes, such as grants for training, market research and business plans, as well as access to loans to buy equipment. Contact your local Intreo centre for more information.

If you have credit difficulties

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.

To be eligible for a review, your application must be in writing. Download the application form for a credit review (pdf) from the Credit Review Office website.

The fee for the review ranges from €100 to €250, depending on the value of the loan.

Get free financial advice

If you are having difficulties with your creditors, you can get free advice and assistance on your business affairs from the Chartered Accountants Voluntary Advice service (CAVA).

Contact your local Citizens Information Service or Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) to see if they offer the CAVA service.

Read the online brochure about the services offered by CAVA (pdf).

Tax, PRSI and employing staff

Paying tax and getting tax relief

How your business is taxed depends on whether it is a ‘limited company’ (see ‘Deciding on the legal structure of your business’ above).

If your business is a company, then it is liable for corporation tax. If your business is not a company, you are considered to be a ‘sole trader’ and you pay tax under the self-assessment system.

Read more about tax for self-employed people, or visit Revenue's website for information on registering for tax.

Earned Income tax credit

In 2022, self-employed people can claim an Earned Income tax credit of €1,700. This tax credit is also available for business owners or managers who are not eligible for a PAYE credit on their salary income.

If a taxpayer also qualifies for the PAYE tax credit, the combined value of these 2 tax credits cannot exceed €1,700.

SURE tax refund

The Start Up Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE) is a tax refund scheme that allows eligible people to get a refund of up to 41% of the capital they invest in starting a business.

Under the SURE scheme, you may be entitled to a refund of PAYE income tax that you paid over the 6 years before the year in which you invest.

See Revenue's website for more details on the SURE scheme. You can use the online calculator on sure.gov.ie to estimate your potential refund.

Start-up companies

New companies may get tax relief on the first 3 years of corporation tax. The value of the relief will be linked to the amount of employers’ PRSI paid by a company in an accounting period, up to a maximum of €5,000 per employee.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) relief

If you sell your business on or after 1 January 2017, a lower rate of Capital Gains Tax (10%) will apply to the net chargeable gains arising from the sale of all (or part) of your business, up to a lifetime limit of €1 million.

Read more about capital gains for companies on the Revenue website.

Paying PRSI

If you are self-employed, you pay Class S social insurance contributions. You can read more about PRSI for the Self-Employed (pdf) from the Department of Social Protection.

Employing staff

If you are starting a business and decide to recruit staff, you must register for PAYE and PRSI with Revenue.

You can find information about employers' obligations in Ireland. You can also read the Workplace Relations Commission’s (WRC’s) guide for employers who are starting a new business with a paid employee (pdf).

Or, visit our pages about:

Where to get advice on starting a business

Local Enterprise Office

If you need help planning your business, or need advice about how to get started, contact your Local Enterprise Office.

Local Enterprise Offices support businesses that are starting up or in development. They can help you to stimulate economic activity at a local level and promote your microenterprise (with 10 or fewer employees).

Visit the Local Enterprise website for information on:

New Frontiers

You can also apply to New Frontiers, which is a national development programme for early-stage entrepreneurs. The programme involves practical and interactive workshops, as well as one-to-one mentoring.

It is delivered locally by third-level institutions across the country (including Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities), and it is funded by Enterprise Ireland.

More information

Find more sources of information on starting a business, as well as information about becoming self-employed and closing or selling a business.

You can also see the range of supports for making your business eco-friendly.

For information about different business structures, visit the Companies Registration Office (CRO) website.

Or, if you need information about employing staff and employment rights, contact the Workplace Relations Commission’s (WRC’s) information and customer service.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland,
East Point Business Park
The Plaza
Dublin 3
D03 E5R6

Tel: 01 727 2000

Companies Registration Office

Bloom House,
Gloucester Place Lower,
Dublin 1,
D01 C8P4

Opening Hours: 10am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 4pm, Monday-Friday
Tel: (01) 804 5200
Locall: 0818 452 000
Fax: (01) 804 5222

Workplace Relations Commission - Information and Customer Service

O'Brien Road
Carlow
R93 E920

Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 0818 80 80 90
Page edited: 28 September 2022