Coming to set up a business or invest in Ireland
If you are an EEA or Swiss national you are entitled to come and work in Ireland either as an employed or a self-employed person. EEA and Swiss nationals do not need permission to establish a business in Ireland and they do not require a visa to visit, travel to, live or work in Ireland.
UK citizens have the right to work within Ireland, including on a self-employed basis. Find out more in our document on the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the United Kingdom. You can read more about ‘Residence rights of UK citizens’.
If you are coming from outside Ireland to set up a business you will need information on a number of topics such as tax and legal requirements – see ‘Information and supports’ below.
Schemes for self-employed non-EEAnationals
Immigrant Investor Programme
The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) closed to new applicants at the end of 15 February 2023. You can read 'frequently asked questions' on the closure of the scheme and what the winding down of the IIP means for existing projects and investors .
The Programme provided a range of investment options which allowed approved non-EEA investors and their immediate family enter Ireland on multi-entry visas and remain here for up to 5 years with the possibility of ongoing renewal.
Start-up Entrepreneur Programme
The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) allows a non-EEA national with an innovative business idea and minimum funding of €50,000 to come and set up a business in Ireland. The aim of the Programme is to support High Potential Start-Ups which are defined as start-up ventures that are:
- Introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets
- Involved in manufacturing or internationally traded services
- Capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up
- Led by an experienced management team
- Headquartered and controlled in Ireland
- Less than 5 years old
The STEP scheme does not apply to retail, catering, personal services or similar businesses. No initial job creation targets will be set as it is recognised that such businesses can take some time to get off the ground. There is detailed information in the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme Guidelines.
Successful applicants for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme and their immediate families will be granted residence permission for 2 years initially. Their immediate family means their spouse, civil partner or partner and dependent children aged under 18. In certain cases, children between the ages of 18 and 24 will be considered for residence under the programme. This permission can be renewed for a further 3 years. After these first 5 years, the investor or entrepreneur can apply for long-term residence. If required they will be granted multiple entry visas for the same duration.
Information and supports
If you are coming from outside Ireland to set up a business you will need information on a number of topics such as tax and legal requirements. You can find information about starting a business and being self-employed on this website, including details of legal structures and potential liabilities. You can read about the organisations, websites and publications that can help you in our document, Sources of information on starting a business.
Businessregulation.ie is a portal to help you identify the main regulations which affect your business. If you are self-employed and your income is reduced you can find out more in our document on self employment and unemployment.
IDA (Irish Development Authority) Ireland is an Irish government agency with responsibility for securing new investment from overseas in manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. It can provide information about setting up a business in Ireland and may provide grants to companies wishing to locate in Ireland or expand their existing operations in Ireland.
Enterprise Ireland is an Irish government agency which is responsible for the development of Irish industry. It provides advice and financial support to High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) businesses. You can find information about starting a business in Ireland on its website.
Local Enterprise Offices provide supports such as advice and grants to local businesses (10 or fewer employees) that are starting up or in development. You can find information about their training programmes and start your own business courses as well as mentoring and financial supports on localenterprise.ie.
How to apply
To apply for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme you complete the start -up entrepreneur application form (pdf) and pay a non-refundable application fee of €350. You can get full details on the STEP from ISD.
The application forms and guidelines as well as a sample business plan template are available on the ISD website. You will need the following documentation to complete the application:
- Your passport and those of your spouse/partner and dependants (if applicable)
- Evidence of family relationships (if applicable)
- Evidence of funds
- Evidence of investment or details of start-up
- Police report or character report from risk management consultancy for yourself and for your spouse or partner (if applicable)
More information about the investor and entrepreneur programmes is available on irishimmigration.ie.
Contact the Companies Registration Office to register your business - see 'Where to apply' below. You can register and file your documents such as your annual returns online with CRO using CORE (Companies Online Registration Environment).
You can contact your Local Enterprise Office to find out the supports available for setting up a business in Ireland - see 'Where to apply' below.
You can find out about registering for tax from your tax office – see ‘Where to apply’ below.
Where to apply
Contact your tax office
Contact your Local Enterprise Office
Contact your local development company (pdf)