Ireland’s prosperous economy, highly skilled workforce and position as a gateway to the European Union has made it a hub for the operations of thousands of multinational businesses. It’s also home to some of the biggest names in tech, financial services and the pharmaceutical industries.

Covid-19 latest information

This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in Ireland. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in August 2020.


Welcome to Ireland

Ireland now boasts one of Europe’s strongest-performing economies.

HSBC has been operating in Ireland since 1979 and is now one of the country’s leading international banks. Over the last 40 years, we have continued to provide a range of financial solutions to businesses trading internationally from Ireland.

HSBC’s unrivalled presence in all of the world’s major developed and emerging markets means we are well placed to help businesses make the most of the opportunities this brings.

We are proud of our rich heritage and traditions. HSBC's strength throughout the centuries has been its ability to be innovative and build long-term relationships with our customers and within our communities. This approach, together with a commitment to grow our business organically in each of our markets, has allowed our customers to stay safe and secure. Get in touch today if you have international ambitions or you are looking to harness our global capabilities to enable your business to thrive.

Alan Duffy Chief Executive Officer, HSBC France, Dublin Branch

Head office address: 1 Grand Canal Square, Grand Canal Harbour, Dublin 2, Ireland


4.8 million1
68,890 sq km
Main languages
Irish and English
Capital city
Other major cities
Cork, Limerick and Galway
Dialling code
USD78,476 per capita2
Top exports
Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical services, machinery and equipment, computers, foodstuffs, and animal products3
Top imports
Data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, and clothing3
Unemployment rate
Corporation tax
Typical office hours
9.00am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday
Time zone
UTC +1 in summer months and UTC +0 in winter
Emergency numbers
112 or 999 (police, fire and ambulance)

1 World Bank Group, 2019
2 Trading Economics, 2019
3 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 2019
4 Trading Economics, 2020
5 PwC, 2019
* Map shows cities of economic significance according to the CIA, 2019

All indices represent the latest 2018/19 rankings

Ireland: Europe’s Western gateway


# 23

for ease of doing business (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)

  • Good for business

    A focused, pro-business policy framework which promotes a highly successful, open and competitive business environment makes Ireland a prime location for many of the world’s leading businesses.

  • Well connected

    Ireland is the only English-speaking member of the Eurozone currency bloc, offering a trading gateway into the European Union and its 500 million consumers without any exchange rate risk.

  • A thriving economy

    One of Europe’s fastest-growing economies, Ireland is a stable, competitive and secure country in which to do business.

  • Educated workforce

    Ireland has a highly skilled workforce and significant government investment in education looks set to boost its skills base further.

  • Hub for multinationals

    More than 1,000 pharmaceutical, tech, social media and finance multinationals have already made Ireland the hub of their European operations.

  • A player on the world stage

    Ireland’s capital city, Dublin, is an urban hub with true global clout and appeal. A key destination for international students, it’s also gaining a growing reputation as Europe’s ‘silicon valley’.

Country profile

Rich in history and cultural heritage - and renowned worldwide for its stunning natural beauty - Ireland is also a thriving modern economy. High-tech firms and pharmaceutical companies are its new drivers of growth.

Ireland is a magnet for multinationals, attracted by its dynamic, pro-business environment and well educated, highly skilled English-speaking workforce.

Home to global leaders spanning many different industries, Ireland’s economy is now one of Europe’s fastest-growing. Consistently ranked among the best countries for doing business, it has the infrastructure, talent and culture in place to support innovation from start-ups to international corporations.

With the youngest population in Europe, Ireland boasts over 35,000 international students. In order to meet forecast industry demand, the Irish government has put a number of initiatives in place that aim to make the country a global leader for technology skills.

As a committed member of the European Union, Ireland provides businesses with guaranteed access to the European market.

The only English speaking country in the Eurozone, it’s an ideal European base for international organisations.

Read on to discover more about the dos and don’ts of doing business in Ireland. Also find out how trading in or with the country could help boost the future growth of your business.

5 reasons to do business in Ireland

  1. Modern industries
    Ireland’s economy is modern and knowledge-based, with a focus on services and high-tech industries.
  2. Culture of innovation
    Ranking in the top 10 of the Global Innovation Index, Ireland is a breeding ground for innovation. Playing host to a vibrant technology sector, the country also offers generous 25% tax credits on research and development (R&D).1
  3. A welcoming country 
    Ireland is renowned for welcoming foreign businesses of all shapes and sizes to its shores. Many of the world’s biggest multinationals like Apple and Google call Ireland home, as well as almost a quarter of a million small businesses.2
  4. Pro-business environment
    Successive Irish governments have pursued pro-business economic policies. The country also helps entrepreneurs and has a thriving start-up community. In 2019, Ireland was ranked as the 11th best country in the world for business by Forbes.
  5. Ease of administration
    Ireland has the most effective tax system in Europe, according to the World Bank, with the least bureaucracy and administrative burden of any of its peers.3

5 key challenges

  1. 1

    Starting a business

    At least one director of every Irish company must be a resident of the EEA. Alternatively, a €25,000 ‘bond’ must be paid every two years, or the company needs to appoint an Irish resident as a non-executive director to satisfy requirements.4

  2. 2

    Competitive disadvantage

    High business costs can make foreign direct investment in Ireland less attractive, and also reduce the competitiveness of Irish goods and services trading in domestic and international markets.5

  3. 3

    Office space lacking

    The limited availability of prime office space for rent in large urban areas is a concern for businesses looking to base themselves in Ireland. However, there is currently a large amount of office space construction underway.5

  4. 4

    Access to finance

    Start-ups seeking finance options can sometimes struggle, with a relative dearth of business angels, private equity and venture capital options in Ireland.

  5. 5

    Brexit impact

    The potential impact of Brexit on Ireland, as one of the UK’s largest export markets, is as yet unknown. To mitigate this, Irish companies are being encouraged to expand their strategies to reach a more diverse range of markets.

1 INSEAD, 2018
2 Irish SME Association, 2018
3 World Bank Group, 2018
4 Companies Registration Office, 2018
5 National Competitiveness Council, 2018