Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
Setting up a business in Ireland can be done in several ways, but all of them require registration of some sort. The level of registration and general legal admin depends on factors such as the size of your business and number of legal owners or shareholders.
Why Should I Register my Business?
Starting a business in Ireland is now a popular choice for entrepreneurs, with start-up companies being a common sideliner for those in full-time work, or a way to escape the corporate office for the 331,600 self-employed. With increasing numbers of people interested in how to start a business, it’s arguably even more important to know how to register a business – that is, making sure you’re setting up a business in a legal way.
Companies must be registered in order to be legally recognised as a business in Ireland. At the very least you will need to register with Revenue to ensure you are paying your taxes to the correct amount and deadline. And you must have a Companies Registration Office (CRO) number. Other forms of registration for licences may be required depending on the size of your business, or should be considered as you grow. These could include registering as an employer, registering as an at-home business or branching out into street trading.
What Types of Business Need to Register?
Every new business in Ireland must register, though the process may vary depending on what type of business you have. Here we will explain the features and responsibilities of different business structures. Remember, this information is for educational purposes only; you should consult an expert to meet your specific needs.
How to register as a sole trader
The most common form of small company registration is as a “sole trader”. Sole traders get to keep all business profits following tax, but remain personally responsible for any loss of profit the business may incur. Sole traders also count as self-employed, and must register as such, while ensuring that they pay tax and Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI). If you register as a sole trader, you must do the following:
- Record your expenses and sales
- Pay income tax on your profit and the PRSI rates applicable to you
- Register for value-added tax (VAT) (mandatory for turnover over €75,000 for goods or €37,500 for services), though you can voluntarily register if your turnover is below this, allowing you to reclaim VAT on your purchases)
- You need to register the name you select if it differs from your own surname.
How to register as a general partnership
A general partnership structure is similar to a sole trader set-up, but is shared between several people. There has to be at least two and a maximum of 20 partners, though occasionally there are exceptions ranging up to 50. To form a general partnership, these conditions must be met:
- The partnership’s trade name must contain the name of at least one member of the business.
- If any partners decline to use their names, the members must register a name with the Trade Register.
- The agreement must have information about each member’s contribution to the business.
- The agreement can also contain other clauses related to managing the business.
Each partner receives a different tax registration code and is taxed individually on their incomes. They must also register and pay social insurance.
These are similar to general partnerships but can be operated with a minimum of one partner who has unlimited liability, and one or more owners whose partnership liability must not exceed their financial investment. While general partners are legally responsible for meeting debts and other requirements, partners with limited liability bring a stipulated sum of financial investment. They are exempt from the partnership’s debts that exceed the contributed amount. Limited partnerships must not feature more than 20 people, unless they are in the business of banking, where 10 is the limit.
How to register as a limited company
A limited company exists as a separate legal entity to the individuals who own and run it. As such, finances of the business are not tied to the personal finances of owners or partners. Setting up a limited company requires ‘incorporation’ i.e. having the business registered with CRO. Limited companies must:
- Appoint at least one director.
- Choose a company secretary – if you have only one director, you must find a separate secretary. If you have two or more directors, one of these can act as secretary.
- Pick a company name – limited company names must end in “Limited” or “Ltd” and not duplicate or closely resemble the name of another company.
- Decide on shareholders – there must be at least one.
- Decide how many shares to release – the division of these determines the legal ownership of the company.
- Have a registered office address and business address – the former must be registered in Ireland. The latter is where business mail including invoices are sent.
- Decide on a company name – be aware that CRO are strict on names. They must be unique and distinguishable against other registered names.
- Prepare and sign incorporation documents.
Get your business started with Square
Congratulations if you are one of the thousands of ambitious entrepreneurs who start up exciting new companies each year. But after you come up with a great idea and register a business, what comes next?
Square can offer a helping hand as your business evolves from fledgling start-up to booming success story, supporting your growth while keeping day-to-day operations running smoothly.
Our all-in-one card machine will help you collect payments efficiently right from the start. You will be able to cater for your customers, whether they want to pay using chip and PIN, mobile or contactless cards, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Square’s Point of Sale software will also get you up and running quickly. If you are new to the business world, it can bring you up to speed by managing your sales, payments, records and inventory. It is easy to set up and customise to your company’s needs.
And as your business expands, Square Online can instantly boost your digital presence with a free online store. Companies can start selling over the internet by building a website with us – and even offer local delivery and click-and-collect services.