If you’re a business owner looking to broaden your horizons, have you ever considered the possibility of expanding your operations to Ireland? With its favorable tax policies, highly educated workforce, and strategic location, Ireland has become an increasingly popular destination for companies seeking to establish a presence in Europe.

This guide will focus on the unique aspects of starting or relocating your business in Ireland. Whether you’re a newcomer in the entrepreneurial world or an experienced business owner seeking new opportunities, we’re here to provide the insights you need.

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Difference between Irish vs. UK company setup

Documents

  • In Ireland, complete Form A1 and the constitution and submit them to the Companies Registration Office (CRO).
  • UK: prepare and submit the application, the memorandum of association, and articles of association online to Companies House.

Costs

  • Ireland: €50 CRO filing fee.
  • UK: £12 Companies House filing fee.

Timescale

  • Ireland: 3-4 working days from when the CRO receives your completed application.
  • UK: usually 24 hours.

Irish Companies Registration Office (CRO)

The Companies Registration Office (CRO) is the Irish government body that looks after the public statutory information on companies and business names in Ireland. 

The core functions of the CRO are to incorporate new Irish companies, register business names, and receive and register post-incorporation documents. They also enforce the Companies Act 2014 concerning the filing obligations of companies and make company information available to the public.

To view information about Irish companies on the CRO website costs €2.50 per document. You need to purchase the documents you want to view. For example, to view information about Irish company Directors or view their account details. Some websites, such as Solocheck.ie, give you some information for free.

UK Companies House

The Companies House is the UK government department that provides digital services to help you search or file company details. They incorporate new UK companies and make information available to the public.

You can go to the Companies House website for free to view information about UK companies. Information about the company Directors and account details is free for the public to view and download using their ‘get information about a company‘ feature.

Why set up a company in Ireland?

Before we get into the differences between Irish and UK company sets, here are a few reasons to choose Ireland as your country of incorporation:

Good tax incentives

Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU)

  • Part of the EU single market and the Eurozone.
  • Extensive tax treaty network.
  • Companies operating in Ireland have access to a labour pool of almost 250 million people from across the EU (IDA Ireland).

A young, well-educated workforce

  • The share of 30-34-year-olds in Ireland with a third-level education is 53.5% vs. an EU average of 40%.
  • Almost 30% of these students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) courses (IDA Ireland).

Forward-looking economy

  • Future Jobs Ireland – Ireland’s framework focuses on enhancing the resilience of the Irish economy.
  • Skillnet Ireland is Ireland’s business support agency that helps maintain a highly skilled workforce.
  • Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland are Irish government bodies that help support companies in Ireland by offering funding, mentoring, and training for entrepreneurs.

Costs involved with setting up a company in Ireland

Along with the CRO filing fee of €50, other costs may be involved in setting up a company in Ireland.

For example, you could outsource your company formation to a qualified accountant. Consider paying a corporate body such as Accountant Online to be your company secretary if you are the sole director. This can be particularly beneficial when navigating the intricacies of the annual general meeting and ensuring all protocols are followed.

In this scenario, exploring the benefits of a company secretary service can offer expert guidance and ease the formation process, saving you time and effort.

You may need to pay for a Virtual Address if you don’t have an Irish address to use as your Registered and Business Address. You might also be interested if you want to keep your home address private. Finally, you may need to pay for a Company seal, a legal requirement for Irish businesses.

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How to choose a company name?

Choosing the right name for your new company can seem straightforward. But both Irish and UK companies have guidelines you need to follow.

There are not many differences between Irish company name guidelines and UK company name guidelines.

Both jurisdictions require that company names end in ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’.

  • If your company name is Irish in Ireland, you can use the Irish equivalents of ‘Teoranta’ or ‘Teo’.
  • In the UK, if your company is incorporated in Wales, you can use the Welsh equivalents’ Cyfyngedig’ or ‘Cyf’.

Who can be a director?

The legal age to be a director of a Limited Company is 18 for Irish Limited Companies and 16 for UK Limited Companies.

Both jurisdictions require at least one director, and you do not have to live in the country you are setting up to incorporate a company there.

However, to set up an Irish company, you must have at least one director in the European Economic Area (EEA). If no directors reside in Ireland or the EEA, you must purchase a Section 137 for non-EEA resident Directors.

Anyone can set up a company in the UK if they are over 16 and not disqualified from being a director.

The director’s details are available on the public register.

These details include your name, date of birth, occupation, nationality and residential address.

It’s good to note that directors in both jurisdictions can hide their residential addresses from the public register, but different steps are involved.

Hiding your residential address in Irish Limited Companies

If you want to hide your residential address in Ireland, you need to complete Form T1. The form must be accompanied by a supporting statement from an officer of the Garda Síochána (Irish police), not below the rank of a Chief Superintendent.

The supporting statement will be granted if you only have reasons for personal safety or security. This means you must have a valid reason for hiding your private address from the Irish public register. For example, if you are an activist, you need security against protestors coming to your home.

If you need help determining whether you qualify for this exemption, contact your local Garda station and give them your information.

It’s also important to know that if you do decide to go down this route, completing this form will only hide your information from the point after the form was submitted to the CRO. So, if you need to have your address hidden, you should start this process from incorporation. Get in touch with us if you need help with these forms.

However, as mentioned previously, you usually need to pay a fee of €2.50 per document to view any information about Irish companies.

Hiding your residential address in UK Limited Companies

If you want to hide your private address from the public register in the UK, you need to complete a Form SR01 and pay £55.

The director needs to know which documents their address is displayed on and send in a separate Form SR01 for each document they want to be changed. The fee of £55 is per document to be changed.

This means directors of UK companies can hide their residential addresses from the public register post-incorporation.

However, if your residential address is your company’s registered address, you cannot hide your address. But you can outsource your registered address or use a PO box in the UK as your registered address (more on this later).

Do you need a company secretary?

The difference between Irish and UK companies is that Irish companies need to have a company secretary appointed, whereas UK Limited Companies do not.

You need a separate company secretary if your Irish company only has one director. One director of companies commonly outsources this role and avails of Company Secretarial Services in Ireland. This is because it is crucial to the company’s function, duties, and responsibilities.

If your company has two directors, one can be the company secretary. But again, directors have responsibilities, so outsourcing your company secretary may be your best option.

You don’t need a company secretary in the UK, but you can appoint one to take on some of the director’s responsibilities.

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How many shareholders do I need?

You can have 1 to 99 shareholders in a Limited Company in Ireland.

You need at least one shareholder in the UK, and there’s no maximum number of shareholders.

The shareholders in a company can be the directors and/or company secretary and/or anyone else associated with the company.

Selling shares is also called issuing shares or issued shares. They refer to the pieces of your company you have given away, usually in exchange for cash to fund the company.

In other words, when you buy shares in a company, you own a part of that company.

Each company will have a different number of issued shares at different prices, and each shareholder may have other rights.

The different types of shares are called ‘share class’. The most common type of shares are ordinary shares, and we use ordinary shares as a standard in our Irish Company Formation.

The rights of the shareholder are disclosed in the Constitution (Irish companies), Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association (UK companies).

What company address should I use?

The main difference between Irish and UK companies in terms of their company address is that UK companies can use a Post Office (PO) box as their company address.

UK companies can use a PO box if you still include a physical address and a postcode on the company setup application.

Irish companies need to have a registered office address and a business address. Both addresses can differ, but you need to identify both when setting up in Ireland.

Virtual Office in Ireland

You cannot use a PO box when setting up a company in Ireland because people can visit the registered office to inspect certain documents by hand.

The business address is where your business correspondence can be found – for example, bank statements, invoices, etc.

Although you can’t use a PO box, you can outsource your company address to a mail-forwarding service provider, such as Accountant Online. We have a team of real people who open and digitally forward all your posts on the same day they are received.

We are a Registered Office Agent (ROA); therefore, we can handle all your mail requirements with the CRO. Find out more about our Virtual Office Service if you would like to know more about outsourcing your address needs in Ireland.

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What are the rules of the company?

Irish companies are incorporated under the Companies Act 2014 and must have one document constitution.

UK companies are incorporated under the Companies Act 2006 and must have a memorandum of association and articles of association.

The memorandum of association is a legal statement signed by all shareholders agreeing to form the company.

The articles of association are the written rules about how the company should be run and are signed by the shareholders, Directors and the Company Secretary.

The constitution for Irish companies is the combined memorandum of association and articles of association. All the shareholders need to sign the constitution. The Directors and Company Secretary do not need to sign the constitution unless they are also shareholders.

What other information do I need to set up the company?

Personal information

When setting up a company in the UK, you must give at least three pieces of personal information about the Directors and shareholders. This can include:

  • town of birth
  • mother’s maiden name
  • father’s first name
  • telephone number
  • national insurance number
  • passport number

When setting up a company in Ireland, you need to provide your Personal Public Service (PPS) number or equivalent Verified Identity Number (VIN) or Central Registrar of Beneficial Owners (RBO) number.

If you use Company Formation Services, you must carry out Know-Your-Customer procedures. We ask all directors and shareholders to complete online ID verification. This information is for our internal records and is not shared with the CRO or the public.

Amidst the intricacies of establishing companies in Ireland and the UK, entrepreneurs should also familiarise themselves with the voluntary strike-off process in Ireland. Such insights give business owners a holistic view, preparing them for all potential business transitions.

Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) / People with Significant Control (PSC)

When setting up a company, another company can be a shareholder of the new company.

If this is the case, you will need to share the details of the person with ultimate control over the company.

In the UK, control refers to anyone with voting rights or more than 25% of the shares. In Ireland, control refers to over 80% ownership.

If the company has 99 shareholders who are all individuals with equal ownership, we will need to know who has the deciding vote in the company—for example, CEO or chairman.

In Ireland, you register the UBO in the Register of Beneficial Owners (RBO) and the UK, you register the PSC with Companies House.

How do I register for tax?

Tax registration in Ireland is done through a Form TR1 after your company has registered with the CRO.

One crucial point to remember is that tax registration doesn’t happen automatically. You’re not automatically registered for any specific tax until you’ve taken the necessary steps to submit the required paperwork to the Revenue authorities.

You can register UK companies for Corporation Tax and as an employer at the same time as registering the company.

We understand that tackling tax registration can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially when you’re navigating a new business landscape. If you’re seeking assistance to make this process more manageable and streamlined, our dedicated team is here to support you every step of the way. We have the expertise and experience to guide you through the intricacies of tax registration in Ireland.

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Next steps

As you consider the advantages of expanding your business to Ireland, remember it’s important to understand the legal requirements and tax obligations. Ireland offers a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, a skilled workforce, and a business-friendly environment that can nurture your growth.

And when facing the intricacies of tax registration or any other aspect of your expansion, we’re here to support you, whether you’re taking your first steps in the business world or a seasoned entrepreneur.

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