Doing business in Ireland

Disclaimer: This article was accurate at the time of publishing. To obtain the most up-to-date information, please get in touch with our local experts.

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Global firms are increasingly making Ireland their chosen destination to set up operations that will reach a European market of about 500 million consumers. In our global complexity report Ireland features as one of the easiest places to do business in terms of compliance. But conducting business domestically and internationally can be a challenge without local help.

Ireland is looking to become the best small country in the world in which to do business. In 2013 it moved up from sixth position to be named as the “best country for business” in rankings carried out by renowned US financial magazine Forbes. The standings are determined by grading 145 nations on 11 different factors: property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance.

There are now more than 1,000 overseas companies with a presence in Ireland and they employ 150,000 of the nation’s 1.9 million workers.

Ireland is the only English-speaking member of the Eurozone and has thus become a favoured place for global firms to use as their European headquarters. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and hundreds of others have strategic bases in Ireland thanks to favourable corporate tax rates, an idyllic location and a healthy business environment. 

After enduring difficult economic conditions the Irish economy has stabilised. On 15 December 2013, Ireland formally exited the EU-IMF bailout programme and the world is watching this pivotal moment in the country’s economic recovery.

The economy grew by 1.4% in 2012 and is expected to improve year-on-year to reach strong levels of expansion. The country is looking to focus on international trade, which is at the heart of its growth plans; exports are on the up and foreign direct investment (FDI) is increasing rapidly.

Yet despite the appeal of the Irish economy, doing business can be a challenging task.

Having local help on board to navigate the diverse legal, accounting and regulatory environment is essential if overseas ventures are to succeed.

The challenges

Starting a business
A company founder (director, secretary, or solicitor) engaged in the company’s formation must attest (on the statutory incorporation form) that the company has complied with the relevant provisions of the Irish Companies Acts. Company registration usually takes one week when all documentation has been submitted.

Management and control of companies
At least one of the directors of an Irish company must be a resident of a Member State of the EEA. If a person’s residence in Ireland needs to be determined, for example, they must have been present in the state for a period amounting in aggregate to 183 days or more during the 12 months or 280 days over the 24 months (excluding 30 days or less in any one year) preceding the date of incorporation of the company in order to qualify as “resident”. There are some exceptions available to the company post incorporation.

Filing returns and paying taxes
Companies are also required to register with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners for various taxes including corporation tax and VAT. There are various returns to be filed with Irish Revenue at different times during the year with respect to withholding tax, dividend income, corporation tax, VAT, VIES, employer taxes and social security returns.

Trading across borders
Trading across borders takes an average of seven days when exporting and 12 days when importing. There are four documents to prepare each way, which can also take up business time.

TMF Group
We have the local knowledge to help you navigate these minefields. Whether you want to set up in Ireland or just want to streamline your Irish operations, talk to us.