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Types of Companies in Ireland

Types of Companies in Ireland

The legislation enables the creation of various types of companies in Ireland. They can take non-corporate and corporate forms, however, the second type is the most popular. Among them, the Irish private limited liability company is by far the most employed.

Local and foreign investors can also set up other types of companies, such as unlimited companies, partnerships or sole traders; our team of consultants in company registration in Ireland can provide an in-depth presentation on the new company types that became available under the amended Companies Act.  

 Quick Facts  
Types of entities available for registration 

– sole trader,

– partenership,

– limited liability companies

Requirements to set up an Irish sole trader 

 The sole trader can be set up by one participant who must be a natural person.

 Types of partnerships

– general partnership,

– limited partnership 

Types of limited liability companies 

– private limited liability company,

– designated activity company,

– company limited by guarantee,

– public limited company 

 Other types of companies

– unlimited company,

– European company (Societas Europaea)

Most popular types of companies in Ireland 

 Limited liability companies

 Legal forms available for foreign companies

 The branch office and subsidiary are widely used.

Most employed legal form by foreign investors 

 The private limited liability company

 Full foreign ownership availability (YES/NO)


 Special requirements for foreign shareholder (if any) Irish residence permits are required for those relocating to the country. 
 Simplest type of company to incorporate 

 The Irish pirvate limited liability company

 Possibility for foreign companies to act as shareholders (YES/NO)

 Yes, foreign companies can act as shareholders in all types of entities, with the exception of sole proprietorships.

 Requirement of specific share capital

Such a requirement is available for certain types of companies only. 

 Average timeframe to register a company

2 weeks 

 Assistance in starting a company in Ireland (YES/NO)  Yes, we can assist if you want to set up a company in Ireland.

Foreign companies have the possibility of opening subsidiaries or branch offices in this country and our team of company formation representatives in Ireland can offer information on each type of business form that can be registered here; our representatives can assist foreign investors with advice on the characteristics of a branch office or a subsidiary and can help in choosing the most suitable option, according to the investment plans and the available capital of foreign businesses entering the Irish market.

Available types of companies presented by our Irish company formation agents

According to the provisions of the Companies Act, local and foreign businessmen can register limited companiesunlimited companies or investment companies, these being the most common ways of opening a company in Ireland. The Irish legislation provides the following types of companies available for incorporation:

  • private company limited by shares – the company can be registered with only one director and it is not required to state the company’s business activities, as it is the case for most of the legal entities and in case you are thinking of setting up a limited company in Ireland, our company incorporation agents are at your disposal;
  • designated activity company – it is compulsory to have at least two directors and the procedure of company registration in Ireland in this case requires drafting the articles of association and memorandum;
  • designated activity company limited by guarantee – it respects the same regulations mentioned in the case of the designated activity company, with the difference that the company’s shareholders have liability in terms of the shares they own in the company, as well as on their contribution to the company’s assets;
  • company limited by guarantee – the company is not required to establish a minimum share capital, while the company’s founders do not have to purchase shares within the company;
  • public limited company – the legal entity can be registered with a minimum share capital of EUR 25,000;
  • unlimited company – the company’s founders have unlimited liability for the company’s debts;
  • Societas Europaea – this legal entity is formed as a public limited liability company, under the regulations of the 2157/2001 of the European Union and the regulation SI No. 447 of the European Communities.

Under the regulations of the new Companies Act, the investors have greater flexibility in opening a company in Ireland as a limited company. It is important to know that the first five types of legal entities mentioned above are considered limited companies, which represent the most popular business forms chosen for incorporation in Ireland. In a limited company, the shareholders have limited liability for the company’s debts. Our team of company formation agents in Ireland can offer more details on this matter.

In the case of private limited companies in Ireland, investors are required to change the company’s status into one of the new types of companies introduced by the Companies Act 2014. These are the private company limited by guarantee, the private company limited by shares and the designed activity company

Being the most employed type of company in Ireland, the private limited liability company –  in any of its new forms – benefits from simplified registration procedures. The main differences between private limited companies and designated activity companies reside in the following: the private company may have only one director and an Irish resident company secretary, while the designated activity company must have at least two directors, one of them being allowed to act as a company secretary.

Considering Irish limited liability companies must change their status into one of the above mentioned, it is highly advisable to refer to the services of Irish company formation experts in order to complete the change. Our team of consultants in company registration in Ireland can provide in-depth information concerning any legal procedures involved in this case. They can also assist you if you want to open a bank account in Ireland.

Investors can also watch the video below for more information about the types of companies in Ireland:

Why open a private company limited by shares in Ireland? 

The private company limited by shares is the most popular legal entity that is chosen by investors who want to register a limited company. The regulations concerning the registration of a private company limited by shares (LTD) are prescribed by the Part 2 of the Companies Act. Provided that this company type has as a business activity import and export operations, it needs to conduct the steps for EORI registration in Ireland

The characteristics of an Irish LTD are given by the fact that this type of legal entity can be incorporated under a constitution, instead of drawing the articles of association and the memorandum, it can have a single director, its shareholders benefit from limited liability for the debts of the company and it is incorporated with a share capital. Besides these, the Irish LTD is also characterized by the below mentioned aspects: 

  • the company’s director (or directors) must have legal capacity for this function, which means that they are required to have an age of minimum 18 years;
  • the company’s director can only be a natural person, corporate bodies can’t be appointed as directors;
  • the LTD needs to appoint a company secretary, a person who also needs to have the minimum legal age (18 years old);
  • the LTD is not required to hold an annual general meeting and it can be represented by a maximum of 149 members; 
  • the liability of the members is limited to the value of the shares they own in the company, in the situation in which the company is wound up;
  • the LTD can be incorporated by a single shareholder, in which case, the LTD will be referred to as a Single Member Company;
  • it can benefit from audit exemption, provided that the company’s turnover is less than EUR 8,3 million.  

Feel free to address our Irish company formation agents for guidance in setting up a LTD.

We also have an infographic on the main types of companies in Ireland:

The Designated Activity Company in Ireland

The Designated Activity Corporation (DAC) is a new type of corporation established under the New Companies Act 2014. Unlike the LTD company, this business form is appropriate for those who want to establish and define a certain type of activity in the constitutional papers. For this purpose, the Memorandum and Articles of Association are part of the company’s overall Constitution.

It is important to note that Part 16 of the Companies Act 2014 regulates companies engaged in designated activities. Its main features are:

  • it can operate as a company limited by guarantee or as a limited liability with share capital;
  • it requires at least 2 directors;
  • it must hold the Annual General Meeting, unless it has just one shareholder or member;
  • it must preserve a copy of the Articles of Association and Memorandum contained in the Constitution;
  • it is allowed to apply for and receive an audit exemption as well as a dormant company audit exemption.
  • it must have an authorized capital.

If you want to set up a company in Ireland under this form, you can rely on our local consultants.

Unlimited companies in Ireland

One of the types of Irish companies that are gaining popularity is the unlimited ones. The main characteristic that distinguishes between the entity and its members is that the latter does not have limited liability. In Ireland, there are three types of unlimited companies, namely:

  • the share-capitalized private unlimited company (ULC);
  • the public unlimited company (PULC) which has no share capital;
  • the public company with a share capital (PUC).

The unlimited company has the following features:

  • its Articles of Association and Memorandum are included in its Constitution;
  • its liability is unlimited;
  • at least 2 directors are required upon creation;
  • the directors had to be older than 18;
  • it can have an infinite number of members;
  • the company’s name must conclude with “Unlimited Company.”

Feel free to address our company formation agents in Ireland if you want to establish such a business form.

The public company in Ireland

The Irish public limited company (PLC) is used to set up large operations or plans to apply for a listing on the Stock Exchange. Unlike the private limited companies, there are no restrictions on the number of shareholders. In Ireland, a PLC cannot be established without 2 two directors and cannot waive the requirement of holding an annual general meeting. A minimum of EUR25,000 in issued share capital is required. The last letters “PLC” or “Public Limited Company” must appear at the end of the PLC’s name.

Setting up a company in Ireland under this legal form is not complicated, however, we recommend using our dedicated services for this purpose.

The single-member company in Ireland

A company that has one member at incorporation or whose membership is limited to one individual is known as a one-member company. However, such a type of Irish business form needs a secretary and at 2 two directors (unless it is created as an LTD, which can also have just one director).

The only member may choose not to convene any general meetings, including annual general meetings, if one wants so. It is still necessary to produce and send to the member the financial statements and reports that are usually drafted before the annual general meeting of the business. Single-member businesses can take any of the legal forms presented above.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships in Ireland

Foreign investors wanting to establish smaller businesses can register as sole proprietors with the Companies Registration Office in Ireland or can find a partner and create a partnership. Investors interested in the procedure of company registration in Ireland may set up one of the following Irish partnerships: the general partnership or the limited partnership.

Both types of partnerships are incorporated by signing a deed of partnership. The Companies Act also allows the formation of a limited liability partnership, which consists of the structure of a partnership but with the benefits of Irish corporate entitiesour team of specialists in Irish company formation can offer an extensive presentation concerning this business entity.  In case you want to open a company in Estonia, we can put you in contact with our partners – CompanyIncorporationEstonia.com.

What is the difference between an Irish subsidiary and an Irish branch? 

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, foreign companies can expand in Ireland through a branch office or a subsidiary. These are common vehicles usually used by companies to access a new market. The most important difference between the two entities is given by their dependence toward the parent company. While the branch office is fully dependent on its parent company, which also holds the liability for any debts, the subsidiary is considered an independent structure and it is treated as a separate legal entity, following the Irish tax and accounting principles. If you open a subsidiary you should check if you have to register it for VAT. Our team can help you in this matter and can handle the entire process of VAT registration in Ireland.

It is necessary to know that the parent company is liable for the debts of the subsidiary only to the amount of the capital invested in the business and that, as a general rule, the subsidiary is registered as an Irish private company limited by sharesOur team of consultants in company formation in Ireland can assist with more details on the documents that have to be subscribed when registering a local subsidiary. 

What are the legal procedures for opening an Irish branch? 

Those who want to open a company in Ireland through a branch office should be aware that the procedure, although simpler compared to the registration of a subsidiary, is comprised of numerous steps. Also, a wide set of documents has to be prepared for the registration procedure and this is why we strongly advise investors to receive professional assistance on this matter from our consultants

A foreign company wishing to open an Irish branch office is legally required to register the entity with the local institutions; this can be required for each branch office registered in Ireland by the respective company, provided that the company does not have a unified management structure. 

Such companies must also have local addresses. The registered office, which serves as your company’s registered address, must be situated in Ireland. You should receive formal communications to this address. The company’s trading address might not be the same as its registered office. These are just some of the rules related to setting up a company in Ireland you can get more information on from our local consultants.

In the case in which the foreign company has a unified management structure and is interested in opening more branches here, it will be necessary to start the procedure of company formation in Ireland only for one of the branches. It will also be required to complete specific tax registration forms that have to be submitted with the Irish Revenue

Number of small and medium-sized businesses in Ireland

According to recent data:

  • in 2023, there were about 309,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ireland;
  • out of these, 281,805 were micro-companies;
  • 23,461 were small businesses and 3,843 entered the medium-sized category.

For more information related to company registration, foreign businessmen can contact our Irish company formation consultantsOur agents can present our set of services related to the incorporation of a company in Ireland and can put you in touch with other company formation specialists in other countries, such as BahrainCayman Islands, China etc.