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Setting a business in Ireland

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Ireland promotes business growth and entrepreneurship with three different schemes for setting up your own business within its borders. If it has always been your dream to set up your business, then Ireland might be the place for you. The country is experiencing big economical growth and Ireland's tax system has very good rates for businesses.

If you are a European Economic Area or Swiss national, then you have no restrictions on coming to Ireland and setting up your own business or becoming self-employed. Simply move over and get started! However, non-EEA citizens must first seek the appropriate permissions to relocate to the country for their business purposes. There are three government schemes for which you can apply to be granted an entrepreneurial work visa, and the one you choose will depend on your situation and type of business.

The immigrant investor programme is the first option. If you are able to make an investment with your personal funds that benefits Ireland, its job market, and public interests, then you may qualify for this programme. This investment allows you and your immediate family members a 5 year multi-entry visa with renewal. The types of investments that qualify include:

  • Endowment – A €500,000 endowment to the arts, sports, health, culture, or education. Can be decreased to €400,000 if you join up with 4 other investors and each make the €400,000 contribution
  • Enterprise Investment – A €1 million aggregate investment over three years into an Irish business, either new or existing
  • Investment Fund – Contributing €1 million or more to a fund that invests in Irish business projects
  • Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) – At least €2 million on any stock exchange listed REIT.

As of July 2016, the other two investment types called immigrant investor bonds and mixed investment have been suspended, but they may be reinstated at the government’s discretion. To apply for this programme you must fill in the application form and pay a non-refundable fee of €1,500.

A second option called the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) is for start-up companies with high potential to be able to set up and grow within Ireland. To qualify for this scheme you must:

  • Have €50,000 worth of start up capital
  • Have a new and/or innovative business idea suitable for international markets
  • Be able to create 10 new jobs within Ireland and €1 million in revenue within the first 3-4 years
  • Have a business less than 6 years old
  • Commit to headquartering your business in Ireland
  • Have an experienced management team

To apply you must fill in an application form and submit a non-refundable fee of €350. You must also provide a valid passport, proof of funds, evidence of investment and business plan, evidence of family relationships if applicable, and a police report for you and any immediate family. If accepted, you will receive an initial 2 year visa for you and any immediate family members. As of 2014, non-EEA graduates who attended an Irish institution and received an advanced STEM degree can receive a 12 month permission on this scheme, as will those who have come to Ireland as part of an innovation incubator or bootcamp.

Any other type of business, such as a retail, catering, or personal services business, must receive written business permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality. To receive permission you must:

  • Have €300,000 investment of your own money
  • Create at least 2 jobs for EEA nationals, or maintain their employment in an existing business
  • Add to the economy
  • Have a viable trade that can support yourself, and any dependents you may have, without additional employment or public benefit assistance

The investment requirement is waived for writers, artists, and crafts people, however they must prove they are recognised in their fields, and that they can support themselves. At the present, this scheme is suspended and permissions submitted after 16 March 2016 are not being considered. However, keep checking as the government may reinstate this programme at any time.

 Useful links:

Public Service Information
Companies Registration Office
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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There are various ways to find work if you are already living and settled in Ireland with work permission.
Dublin is Ireland’s most international city, and boasts a huge economy for foreign workers. There are a number of international companies based there.
The city of Cork has a developed economy which is based on several sectors, namely the pharmaceutical and tech industry.
With a booming economy, the Irish labour market is quite dynamic, offering opportunities across many industries to those that would like to work in Ireland

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