• Access and hire global talent & deploy them anywhere in the world
  • Remove restriction from only hiring from local markets
  • Enter any international market without the requirement of opening a local entity

Expanding into Ireland – which is characterised by a well-educated, ambitious, and adaptable workforce, multifaceted employment and tax laws, an extensive infrastructure network linking to Europe and beyond, and leading sectors in pharmaceutical and medical technology, software, ICT, financial services, trade, agriculture, mining, and fishing – can bring excitement to the possibilities, but also significant stress to ensuring the entity with the country’s rigid legal structures and laws. Ensuring compliance without sufficient knowledge of the country’s laws also adds stress to getting your new entity off the ground and ready to test new markets. Going at it without the proper support can increase the costs, time and risks involved.

Global expansion is a step for any business, regardless of your goal. The opportunities that can come with an expansion can be both incredibly exciting as well as intimidating and confusing, especially when you consider all of the registration procedures that need to be done and the documentation required. This can be worked through efficiently and cost-effectively with the support of an international Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) such as Bradford Jacobs, especially through our Employer of Record (EOR) framework. This can be best utilised when businesses are just beginning their expansion process and require more information before committing to incorporating an entity and fully establishing themselves in the Irish market.

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Ireland – The Economy

The economy of the Republic of Ireland is a highly developed knowledge economy focused on services in high-tech, life sciences, financial services, and agribusiness, including agri-food. Ireland is an open economy (5th on the Index of Economic Freedom) and ranks first for high-value foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. In the global GDP per capita tables, Ireland ranks 4th of 186 in the IMF table and 4th of 187 in the World Bank ranking.

Foreign-owned multinationals continue to contribute significantly to Ireland’s economy, making up 14 of the top 20 Irish firms (by turnover), employing 23% of the private sector labour force and paying 80% of the collected corporation tax.

As of mid-2019, economic growth in Ireland was predicted to decline, especially in the event of a disorderly Brexit.

One of Europe’s major financial hubs is centred on Dublin. Ireland ranks among the top ten wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita. However, this has been partly ascribed to distortions caused by the tax inversion practices of various multinationals operating in Ireland. In 2017, the Central Bank of Ireland enacted a modified gross national income (GNI*) as the standard deviation was considered too materially distorted to measure or represented the Irish economy accurately.

After joining the EC (the European Communities, the predecessor of the European Union), the country’s government enacted a series of liberal economic policies that resulted in economic growth between 1995 and 2007, now known as the Celtic Tiger period, before its subsequent reversal during the Great Recession.

Ireland’s quality of life is ranked among the highest in the world. The country performs well in several national performance metrics, including healthcare, economic freedom, and freedom of the press. Ireland is a member of the European Union and a founding member of the Council of Europe and the OECD. The Irish government has followed a policy of military neutrality through non-alignment since immediately before World War II, and the country is consequently not a member of NATO. However, it is a member of the Partnership for Peace and aspects of PESCO.

Small and Medium-sized Companies

SMEs in Ireland are defined as enterprises with fewer than 250 persons engaged. SMEs are further split into micro-enterprises with fewer than ten persons employed, other small enterprises with between 10 and 49 persons and medium-sized enterprises with between 50 and 249 persons.

99.8% of all enterprises in Ireland stand within the SME bracket. Thus, SMEs are particularly important for Ireland’s labour market. They account for 70.1% of total employment in the ‘non-financial business economy’, exceeding the EU average of 66.6%.

In contrast, the contribution of SMEs to total value added is only 41.5%, 15 percentage points below the EU average. This reflects the more significant role large firms play in Ireland in generating value added. The number of people employed by Irish SMEs corresponds precisely to the EU average of 3.9.

SME productivity, measured as value added per person employed, averages €88,900. This is approximately double the EU average, mainly thanks to the widespread presence of foreign firms, which have, on average, higher productivity (in 2016, double compared to Irish-owned companies, if all companies are considered) and, among SMEs, specifically influence micro firm productivity.

SMEs have also displayed a strong e-commerce performance in the last few years, according to The Digital Economy and Society Index by the European Commission – 32% of SMEs sell online, and 18% sell across borders, well above the EU averages of 17% and 8%, respectively. 

27% of SME total turnover originates from online sales, more than double the EU average of 12%. Irish companies also rank high in the use of social media (44%), cloud services (41%) and big data (23%).

Start a business in Ireland
The Republic of Ireland
No. of Provinces/Counties
The Republic of Ireland is divided into 4 Provinces: Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

Each Province is divided into Counties. The Republic of Ireland comprises 26 counties (6 of the 9 Ulster Counties form Northern Ireland).
Principal Cities (approx. population)
Dublin (1.2m), Cork (208k), Limerick (94k), Galway (80k), and Waterford (53k).
Gaelic and English.
Local Currency
Euro (EUR)
Major Religion(s)
Christianity (85.1% - of which 78.3% Roman Catholic; 2.6% Church of Ireland; 4.2% others) - No religion (10.1%).
Date Format
Time Zone
UTC (GMT) in winter.

IST (UTC+1) in summer.
Country Dial Code
Population (2023 est.)
5.2 million
Border Countries
The Republic of Ireland shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Tax Year
1 January – 31 December (calendar year)
VAT Rates (2023)
VAT is charged at different rates for various goods and services, e.g.:

  • 23% is the standard rate (all goods and services that do not fall into the reduced rate categories are charged at this rate)

  • 13.5% is a reduced rate for items including coal, heating oil, vet fees, building and building services, agricultural contracting services, short-term car hire, and cleaning and maintenance services.

  • 9% is a second reduced rate. Gas and electricity were reduced to this rate from 1 May 2022 for a period that has been extended to 28 February 2023 by Budget 2023. The VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sector also decreased from 13.5% to 9%, from 1 November 2020 to 28 February 2023.

  • 4.8% reduced rate applies to livestock (excluding chickens), greyhounds and the hire of horses.

  • 0% for all exports, tea, coffee, milk, bread, books, children’s clothes and shoes, vegetable seeds and fruit trees, fertilisers, large animal feed, oral medicine for humans and animals, disability aids, and newspapers.
  • National Minimum Wage (2023)
    EUR 11.30/hour (since January 1, 2023) - A national living wage will replace the national minimum wage from 2026.
    Taxpayer Identification Numbers
  • For natural persons: TIN is the Personal Public Service Number (PPS).

  • For companies: TIN is the Tax Reference Number (TRN).
  • Leading Sectors - % of GDP (2021)
    Services (55.36%) - Industry (37.9%) - Agriculture (1.02%)
    Main imports (2021)
    EUR 104 billion of imports of goods: Machinery & Transport Equipment (39%), Chemicals & Related Products (25%), and Food & Live Animals (7%).
    Main exports (2021)
    EUR 165 billion of exports of goods: Chemicals & Related Products (62%), Machinery & Transport Equipment (15%), and Food & Live Animals (7%).
    Main trading partners (2021)
    Main Customers: the USA (32%), the UK (11%), Germany (11%), Belgium (8%), and China (7%).

    Main Suppliers: the UK (19%), the USA (17%), France (10%), China (8%), and Germany (7%).
    Government Type
    Unitary parliamentary republic
    Current President / PM
    President: Michael D. Higgins - Mícheál Dónal Ó hUigínn in Gaelic (since November 2011)

    PM (Taoiseach - A Thaoisigh in Gaelic): Leo Varadkar (since December 2022)

    Main Sectors of the Irish Economy

    Ireland focuses on the following key sectors, which all have a significant impact on the country’s economy:

    • Environmental Resources (Agriculture, Mining, Forestry, and Fishing) – These primary industries of Ireland rely on the country’s rich natural resources. These industries account for 5% of the country’s GDP and employ about 8% of the total labour force. Ireland has great potential for agriculture, considering its large fertile pasture, particularly in the southern and midland regions. However, agriculture contributes only 1% of the GDP. With a 9% forest cover, Ireland is one of the least forested countries in Europe. It mainly relies on wood imports to increase the forest cover. The country’s fishing industry only focuses on aquaculture. The mining industry relies primarily on the production of lead, zinc, alumina, and a small number of minerals such as copper, gold, limestone, and gypsum. Ireland is one of the major exporters of zinc.
    • Pharmaceutical And Medical Technology – The pharmaceutical and medical technology industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Ireland due to the high demand, steep competition, and emerging start-ups. The medical technology and research sector have over 100 companies responsible for employing about 25,000 people and generating 9.4 billion euros annually. On the other hand, the pharmaceutical industry employs nearly 50,000 and generates about 60 billion euros of export annually. Biologics is the fastest-growing sector within the pharma industry, with expansions and several start-ups. Most of the pharma companies are based in Ringaskiddy and Little Island.
    • Trade and Exports – Trade and export are one of the main components of the economy of Ireland. All the manufactured products must be sold for the country to earn revenue. Trade in the country is worth about €165 billion, mainly from service and merchandise trade. Export plays a significant role in the growth of the economy. Ireland is among the largest exporter of software-related goods, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. The country is also the largest producer of zinc and the second-largest producer of lead in Europe. These minerals contribute significantly to Ireland’s export earnings.
    Move your business to Ireland
    Custom House, Dublin, Ireland


    • Software And ICT – The technology industry’s success has resulted from the increase in foreign companies setting up their offices in the country, especially in Dublin. Due to the impending Brexit, more and more fintech companies are moving to Dublin. The ICT sector employs over 35,000 people, generating about 35 billion euros annually. Ireland has over 200 ICT companies, including most of the top ten largest ICT companies. These companies are based in Dublin and include Facebook, Google, eBay, Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter, PayPal, and Microsoft. The software sector generates over 16 billion euros annually and employs about 20,000 people. Ireland is the second-largest exporter of software in the world. Some of the top ten global technology firms (like Apple) operate in Ireland.
    • Financial Services – The sector employs nearly 35,000 people and generates an average of 2 billion euros in taxes. The country continues to attract, develop, and retain financial services, thanks to the continued foreign direct investments. Ireland is Europe’s 7th most prominent provider of wholesale financial services. Most financial companies can be found at Dublin’s International Financial Service Center. There are over 60 credit institutions in Ireland, and the banking sector is dominated by the Bank of Ireland, AIB Bank, and Ulster Bank.

    Labour Contracts Law in Ireland

    Ireland has no legal requirement for a formal written contract. Employers, however, must offer at least a written statement covering ‘core items’ of the agreement within five days of the employee starting work and the full terms within two months.

    Types of employment arrangements in Ireland cover full-time permanent employees on an open-ended or indefinite contract; fixed-term employees working on a special project or defined timescale; part-time workers; and seasonal and casual workers. Additionally, collective or trade union agreements may also affect contract types.

    Unlike in other European Union (EU) nations, employers in Ireland are not legally required to negotiate with unions over employment conditions. Ireland introduced the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act in 2015 to encourage collective bargaining, but this remains largely voluntary.

    Around a quarter of Irish workers are in Trade Unions, and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has close to 50 members. A 2019 EU survey assessed less than a third of private sector companies “engage with trade unions for collective bargaining.”

    Tax and Labour Authorities in Ireland

    Tax Authorities

    The Office of the Revenue Commissioners (Irish Tax and Customs) –  A government Order established it in 1923. Its core business is the assessment and collection of taxes and duties. Revenue’s mandate derives from obligations imposed by statute and government due to Ireland’s membership of the European Union (EU).

    Labour Authorities

    The National Employment Rights Authority is an Office of the DETI (Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Innovation). Its mission is to achieve a national culture of employment rights compliance by providing information supported by enforcement.

    The Health and Safety Authority – It’s an Agency within the DETI (Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Innovation) responsible for the administration and enforcement of health and safety at work.


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