How to do business in Ireland

Legal considerations

As a common law jurisdiction and a European Union member, Irish law closely mirrors UK law. However you should still seek professional legal advice.

The Irish Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation provides full details of start-up and sector-specific regulations, as well as a new guide to help SMEs find out which Government financial supports may be available. See:


Standards and technical regulations

Products and packaging should meet EU standards.

Local standards and technical regulations may apply. You should seek legal advice or guidance from the appropriate regulatory agency in Ireland. These include the:

  • National Standards Authority of Ireland which provides information on general certification and standards. See:

  • Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland provides details of regulations in the financial sector. See:

  • Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). See:

  • Commission for Communications Regulation which provides details of regulations in the telecommunication sector. See:

  • Environmental Protection Agency. See:

  • Food Safety Authority of Ireland. See:

  • Health and Safety Authority of Ireland. See:

  • Irish Medicines Board which provides information on regulations for medicinal products (Health Products Regulatory Authority). See:

  • National Consumer Agency which regulates on general consumer law. See:

EU standards mostly apply with regard to packaging. However, dependant on the business sector there may be local considerations. You should check by:

[Source: UK Trade & Investment/ (Feb 2016)]


Intellectual Property (IP)

Trademarks, designs, patents and copyright are the principal forms of Intellectual Property (IP) protection available to companies and individuals.

Having the right type of intellectual property protection helps you to stop people stealing or copying:

  • the names of your products or brands

  • your inventions

  • the design or look of your products

  • things you write, make or produce

Copyright, patents, designs and trademarks are all types of intellectual property protection. You get some types of protection automatically, others you have to apply for.

You own intellectual property if you:

  • created it (and it meets the requirements for copyright, a patent or a design)

  • bought intellectual property rights from the creator or a previous owner

  • have a brand that could be a trade mark, e.g. a well-known product name

You usually won’t own the intellectual property for something you created as part of your work while you were employed by someone else.

Intellectual property can:

  • have more than one owner

  • belong to people or businesses

  • be sold or transferred

However, IP law – especially for patent protection – is not yet totally harmonised within the EU. The Irish Patents Office has responsibility for IP legislation in Ireland. You should seek professional legal advice with regard to issues around IP. See:

Contact the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the official UK government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trademarks and copyright, for further information or advice:

[Source: UK Trade & Investment/IPO/ (Feb 2016)]


Tax and customs considerations

The Irish Office of the Revenue Commissioners is responsible for tax and customs matters in Ireland. See:

Value Added Tax (VAT)
Most goods or services supplied in Ireland are subject to VAT. VAT is charged at a number of different rates. These include:

  • standard rate at 23%

  • 13.5% rate, applying to a number of labour intensive services

  • 9% to tourism goods and services

  • 4.8% to livestock

  • 0% for services supplied in the public interest, e.g. foods, medicines, children’s clothes, childcare and education

Check with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regarding VAT refund of business expenses incurred in Ireland. See:

Check with the Irish Revenue Office regarding VAT rates for your products. See:

Company tax
Ireland’s 12.5% corporate tax rate on trading income is one of the lowest ‘onshore’ statutory corporate tax rates in the world.

A tax rate of 25% applies to non-trading income (passive income) such as:

  • investment income

  • rental income

  • net profits from foreign trades

  • income from certain land dealings and oil, gas and mineral exploitations

The extent of a company’s liability to Irish corporation tax depends on its tax residence. Irish resident companies are liable to corporation tax on their worldwide income and capital gains. A company is tax resident in Ireland if its central management and control is located in Ireland, or it is incorporated in Ireland, but there are exceptions for certain Irish companies.

Companies not resident in Ireland, but with an Irish branch, are liable to corporation tax on:

  • profits connected with the business of that branch

  • any capital gains from the disposal of assets used by or held

  • for the purposes of the branch in Ireland

Companies not resident in Ireland which do not have an Irish branch are potentially liable to:

  • income tax on Irish source income

  • capital gains tax from disposal of specified Irish assets, e.g. Irish land, buildings, certain Irish shares

Income tax
Income tax is generally chargeable on all income made in Ireland, and on income for services performed in Ireland. Tax on other income and gains depends on the residence and domicile of the individual.

The most common form of income tax is Pay As You Earn (PAYE), which is a salary withholding tax deducted by employers from an employee’s pay. People who are self-employed or receive income from non-PAYE sources use the self-assessment system.

Personal income tax rates depend on marital status. See the Irish Citizens Information site:

There are a wide range of tax-deductible expenses. These include pension contributions and tax credits, such as the employee credit.

The internal market of the European Union (EU) is a single market in which the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons is assured, and in which citizens are free to live, work, study and do business.

Since its creation in 1993, the single market has opened itself more to competition, created jobs, and reduced many trade barriers. The Single Market Act (see: was put forward in two parts, in 2011 and 2012, containing proposals to further exploit the opportunities afforded by the single market, in order to boost employment and improve confidence in European business.

Therefore as a single market allowing the free movement of goods and services, no import duties are applicable.

Information on customs and duties in Ireland is available from the Irish Office of the Revenue Commissioners. See:

[Source: UK Trade & Investment/HMRC/ (Feb 2016)]


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