If you are an EEA or Swiss national you are entitled to come and work in Ireland either as an employed or a self-employed person. EEA and Swiss nationals do not need permission to establish a business in Ireland and they do not require a visa to visit, travel to, live or work in Ireland.
UK citizens have the right to work within Ireland, including on a self-employed basis. Find out more in our document on the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the United Kingdom. You can read more about ‘Residence rights of UK citizens’.
There are 2 ways in which non-EEA nationals can invest or start a business in Ireland – see ‘Schemes for self-employed non-EEA nationals’ below.
If you are coming from outside Ireland to set up a business you will need information on a number of topics such as tax and legal requirements
Schemes for self-employed non-EEA nationals
Immigrant Investor Programme
The Immigrant Investor Programme provides a range of investment options which allows approved non-EEA investors and their immediate family enter Ireland on multi-entry visas and remain here for up to 5 years with the possibility of ongoing renewal. The investment must be good for Ireland, good for jobs and in the public interest. The funds must be legally acquired and owned, not borrowed, by the investor. Investors must be of good character and must not have been convicted of criminal offences in any jurisdiction. They must have a minimum net worth of 2 million euros and be able to provide evidence of this.
In order to be considered for the Programme, the proposed investment must be in one of the following categories.
Enterprise Investment: A minimum €1 million aggregate investment into new or existing Irish businesses for a minimum of 3 years. The enterprise can be a start-up registered by the investor. Your investment can be in a single Irish enterprise or spread over a number of enterprises. The enterprise must be registered and headquartered in Ireland and the investment must support the creation or maintenance of employment.
Investment Fund: A minimum of €1 million investment in an investment fund for at least 3 years. Investment funds must invest in Irish businesses and projects. The route for a fund to be accepted as an investment for the purposes of the Immigrant Investor Programme is for it to be part of an application by an individual investor. There is no list of approved funds but you can read about the criteria for investment funds on the INIS website.
Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT): A minimum investment of €2 million in any Irish REIT listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. The investment may be spread across a number of Irish REITs.
Endowment: €500,000 to a public project benefiting the arts, sports, health, culture or education. The endowment can be €400,000 per investor if it is pooled by at least 5 individuals.
Start-up Entrepreneur Programme
The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) allows a non-EEA national with an innovative business idea and minimum funding of €50,000 to come and set up a business in Ireland. The aim of the Programme is to support High Potential Start-Ups which are defined as start-up ventures that are:
Introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets
Involved in manufacturing or internationally traded services
Capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up
Led by an experienced management team
Headquartered and controlled in Ireland
Less than 5 years old