How to move your UK business to the Republic of Ireland

Why should you consider moving your UK business to Ireland? In this piece, we find out.

For many years now, UK businesses have been moving across the Irish Sea and setting up their corporate headquarters in the Republic of Ireland — and they aren’t the only ones.

Hundreds of major American-owned companies, including Google, Intel and Facebook, have their European foundations on Irish soil, with many others basing their business out of the country entirely. But, what draws in these companies? And why should you consider moving your UK business to Ireland?

Reasons to move your company to Ireland

We’ll start with the obvious one. It is well known across Europe, and indeed much of the world, that the Republic of Ireland is a ‘tax haven’. Corporation tax is just 12.5 per cent, comparative to 35 per cent in the United States and 19 per cent in the UK (plus dividend taxes). The country is also famous for its tax breaks, such as a tax of only 6.25 per cent on revenue associated with patented products or intellectual property.

While many decry a move to Ireland as a simple tax-dodging scheme, it’s hard not agree with the economics behind the move — especially for smaller businesses. During our currently turbulent times, the prospect of being able to lower running costs and increase net gains through legitimate means is just a logical business manoeuvre. It’s also worth noting that while Ireland is known as a tax haven, it isn’t actually in the true sense of the word. Countries like the Cayman Islands, where tax is 0 per cent, are what you’d call a true tax haven. Ireland’s tax policies are low, but not non-existent.

There are other reasons to move a business to Ireland other than cheaper tax.

Operating costs in major hubs, such as Dublin, are far cheaper than those of London. However, where the real bonus comes in is with the current move towards a British exit from the European Union. Unless the country remains part of the single market, trade with Europe will become increasingly costly. Despite this, 88 per cent of SMEs trading with European member states have no interest in stopping post-Brexit, which means rising import/export costs for many UK businesses. Moving to Ireland allows British businesses to stay relatively close to their UK-based clients, while also ensuring they can continue to operate unrestricted in the single market.

Ireland itself is also a fast-growing economy, with strong trade links to much of the world. It was ranked fourth in Forbes’ list of best countries in the world to do business in. Thanks to high wealth per capita, opportunities for investment and expansive national GDP growth, it outstrips 135 other countries to claim its title.

How to relocate your UK business to The Republic of Ireland

Once you’ve made the decision to move to Ireland, there are a number of important steps you need to take to enjoy successful relocation. As with relocating anywhere else in Europe, moving your business to Ireland is currently far easier than most places outside of the EEA. You do not need a visa or permission to start a company; you may simply move and register, thanks to our current European Union membership. Of course, this will soon change and we’ll discuss that in a moment.

Step 1: Identify your hub

Ireland is a big and wonderful country. It’s full of fantastic communities, thriving commerce hubs and centres of major international trade. Picking the right location is crucial for business success. Factors to consider are:

  • Are you looking to trade with overseas partners, or are you seeking out local opportunities?
  • What kind of employees do you need? Are you moving staff, finding new staff, or not in need of any staff at all?
  • What kind of property does your business need, and where will be the best place to find it?
  • Is well-developed infrastructure vital to your success, or can you afford to think about more isolated locations?

Thinking about what your business needs to succeed — and finding an effective location to secure that success — is an essential element of relocating your company to Ireland. Move to the wrong place and you’ll suffer for it.

Step 2: Discuss planning with Irish accountancies and legal professionals

Ireland, although very close to UK shores, is a foreign nation with different financial and legal practices. Setting up a business in the Republic of Ireland comes with a list of new obligations and responsibilities. You must be aware of what these are and how to operate properly within the country, or face the consequences of ignorance.

At this point, it’s worth setting up consultations with accountants and legal professionals in Ireland, discussing your business and how it operates, as well as your plans for the future. They’ll then be able to offer you specific guidance on how best to move forward and provide all the necessary legal and financial information.

As well as Irish accounting and legal advice, you can also seek assistance in moving your company from the British government, through the Department of International Trade. This would be necessary, or at least strongly advised, if you plan on trading with UK clients after relocation.

Step 3: Get appropriate permission

As previously stated, you do not currently need permission to establish a business in the Republic of Ireland as a British citizen, but Brexit could soon change all that. As a result, businesses moving to Ireland from the UK should get in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Discuss with them your situation, your plans and the likelihood of any potentials issues cropping up after the Brexit agreement has been made. It is impossible to give general guidance on this matter, as immigration terms and rights to residency are dependant on a number of unique circumstances.

Being aware of potential problems further down the road allows you to not only make a well-informed decision regarding your move to Ireland, but also prepare for problems well in advance.

Step 4: Dissolve your UK business

Moving and operating within a new nation often means you’ll need to dissolve your business and register it within said nation under the same name. This is to avoid taxation problems. Contact the British government and follow the process of having your business struck off the list of registered UK brands.

Step 5: Relocate to Ireland

International business relocation is a complicated process, even to a country so close as Ireland. It requires the shipping of goods (both personal and business), the acquisition of property and day-to-day operating requirements like utilities, as well as the potential relocation of entire teams of people. It is advisable that, just as you would use experts to provide financial and legal support, you also hire international relocation experts to manage your corporate move. Using specialist third-party companies to coordinate and oversee your business relocation project ensures a smooth and trouble-free process, allowing you to focus on getting set up quickly within Ireland.

Step 6: Establish yourself as an Irish-based brand

The final step of the process is to establish your limited company as an official business in the Republic of Ireland by registering it with the Companies Registration Office. Once approved and active, you can now enjoy the benefits of trading within Ireland, including tax reductions, continued trade access, and being part of one of the world’s fastest-growing developed economies.

What not to do when moving your business to Ireland

One key mistake business owners make when relocating to Ireland is setting up a new company as a subsidiary to their current operation in the UK. They then operate out of Ireland, paying taxes to the Irish government, while still maintaining a British-registered brand and British residency. This can be problematic.

If and when the British government discovers your practices, you will likely face a tax bill for all the income you received but didn’t declare as a British-based company. There is a reason we advise you to dissolve your UK business and start another company registered to the Republic of Ireland. If your company is registered in the UK, you owe the 19 per cent corporation tax to the British government, no matter where your profits are being made from.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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