Global Business GuideIreland

From Global Connections

This is one of a series of Global Business Guides designed for businesses wishing to expand into another country/territory. This Global Business Guide was produced in January 2016. The materials contained in this document provide a snapshot at that time and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.


Ireland was ranked 11th in the world for foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, according to UNCTAD's 2015 World Investment Report. Ireland's FDI strategy for 2015 – 2019 has set a number of new targets, including winning 900 new investments for Ireland and creating 80,000 jobs.

Ireland ranked 17th in the World Bank's 2016 Doing Business rankings up two places from 19th in 2015. The rankings identified a number of reforms enacted by the government with regards to the ease of doing business. Ireland strengthened minority investor protections by introducing provisions stipulating that directors can be held liable for breach of their fiduciary duties. However, it made paying taxes more costly and complicated for companies by increasing landfill levies and by requiring additional financial statements to be submitted with the income tax return.

Key facts about starting a business in Ireland:

  • It takes approximately four days and six procedures to start a new business in Ireland; this process is detailed in the Doing Business in chapter
  • Visa applications are generally processed within eight weeks from the date on which an application is lodged; employment regulations are discussed in detail in the Labour chapter
  • Ireland was ranked 12th in a comparison of 36 countries' intellectual property systems that assesses cost, speed, quality of judges/tribunals, quality of advice and the fairness and predictability of decisions; intellectual property rights are discussed in the Legal overview chapter
  • Companies applying for a listing on the Irish Stock Exchange must have, amongst other requirements, published audited accounts for at least three years; this is discussed further in the Finance chapter

While establishing a business and investing in Ireland is a transparent and straightforward process, it is important to understand the nuances of any local regime. The manner in which people conduct business in Ireland may differ from the home countries of investors. Furthermore, variations on these distinctions may exist in different regions of Ireland and the industry in which a company operates.

While Irish Gaelic is the first official language of Ireland, English (the second official language) is the language most commonly used and is the lingua franca of business.

Dress codes in the workplace are typically conservative; nevertheless, this will vary according to industry. Punctuality is expected when doing business in Ireland. A handshake is the typical greeting for a new introduction and business cards will be exchanged after initial introductions. Gift giving is not common as part of Irish business etiquette.

Those looking to establish a business in Ireland will often look to countries across Europe as alternative options. While membership of the EU ensures parity in many aspects of the legal, tax and audit regimes, Ireland can be differentiated on the following factors:

  • Forbes Magazine recently voted Ireland the best country in the world in which to do business by measuring 11 different factors; further discussed in the Trade chapter
  • Following growth rate of 6.9 per cent in 2015, Ireland continues to be the fastest-growing economy in Europe
  • Ireland has the lowest corporate income tax in Europe
  • Ireland has the youngest population in Europe with 40 per cent of the population under 29 years old
  • Inflation has been below the EU average since 2008
  • Ireland's ICT sector, and its associated infrastructure, is world-renowned with nine of out the world's top 10 ICT companies located in the country; further details in the Infrastructure chapter

Despite the many benefits of investing in Ireland, foreign investors should remain aware of potential challenges. The domestic market is relatively small and is characterised by high competition. Foreign investors may find that the cost of doing business is relatively expensive when compared to other EU destinations. Furthermore, despite the country's low corporate taxes, personal income tax rates are relatively high.

This guide has been developed to provide businesses with an overview of Ireland, its legal regime, start-up and market entry considerations, tax and customs requirements and a general summary of the factors that may affect the decision to do business in Ireland. However, the information contained in this document is generic in nature and you should not act or rely on it without obtaining specific professional advice.

Please note that the Global Business Guides may only be available in English.

Useful Links

1 Companies Registration Office
2 The Office of the Revenue Commissioners
3 Data Protection Commissioner
4 Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
5 Patents Office
6 IDA Ireland
7 Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation



1 FDI Statistics
2 Ireland FDI Strategy
3 Doing Business Rankings
4 Ireland Employment Visa applications
5 IP Index
6 Ireland Economic Growth
7 Population Statistics
8 ICT companies


Download Global Business Guide - Ireland (3.57MB, PDF)


This document is issued by by HSBC Bank plc, Ireland Branch (the Bank). This guide is a joint project with Grant Thornton. It is not intended as an offer or solicitation for business to anyone in any jurisdiction. It is not intended for distribution to anyone located in or resident in jurisdictions which restrict the distribution of this document. It shall not be copied, reproduced, transmitted or further distributed by any recipient. The information contained in this document is of a general nature only. It is not meant to be comprehensive and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this document without obtaining specific professional advice. Whilst every care has been taken in preparing this document, the Bank and Grant Thornton makes no guarantee, representation or warranty (express or implied) as to its accuracy or completeness, and under no circumstances will the Bank or Grant Thornton be liable for any loss caused by reliance on any opinion or statement made in this document. Except as specifically indicated, the expressions of opinion are those of the Bank and are subject to change without notice. The materials contained in this document were assembled in January 2016 and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.

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