Open a business account in Ireland

Tarah Ren
Freddie Larkins
Last updated
November 17, 2023

Opening a business account in Ireland? Whether you're a local or an international entrepreneur, this process can raise more than a few questions.

In this article we'll guide you through the critical steps, clarifying what documents you'll need, if you even need a business account, and the difference between opting for a high-street bank or choosing to go digital with platforms like Wise or Revolut.

Let's cut through the confusion and pave your way to financial readiness in the Irish business landscape.

Legally speaking, do I need a business account in Ireland?

Although a business bank account in Ireland isn't always legally required, it's a sensible step to consider, particularly from a fiscal and regulatory standpoint. If you're an owner of an Irish-Registered Company, remember that your business is a separate legal entity, meaning it has to have its own business bank account, ensuring a clear separation between personal and corporate finances.

For those operating as freelancers or sole traders, the requirements are different. Legally, you're not obligated to open a business bank account. However, there are numerous benefits of having one.

A dedicated account for your business activities simplifies financial management, simplifies your record-keeping, and delivers a more professional impression to your clients and suppliers.

So, while the law might not require you to have a business account, the benefits that come with having one definitely make it worth considering, whether you run a large corporation or are just starting out as a sole trader.

What details do I need to open a business account in Ireland?

The exact paperwork needed may vary depending on the nature of your business and the banking provider you opt for. Here's an overview of the most common requirements:

  • Proof of ID for all directors, authorised signatories, and beneficial owners. This could be a current passport or driver's licence.

  • Proof of residential address for the same individuals. Accepted documents include utility bills, tax documents, or mortgage papers.

  • Six months' worth of business bank statements (unless your company is new).

  • Your Certificate of Incorporation, which officially establishes your company.

  • A copy of your Memorandum and Articles of Association. These documents outline your company's structure and rules.

  • Certified business accounts might be needed.

  • Your company's tax reference number.

  • If you run a Limited Company, proof of registration with the Registration of Beneficial Ownership (RBO) is required.

If presenting original documents is a challenge, certified copies signed by an appropriate individual might also be accepted. If you're struggling to compile all the requested documents, advisors can provide guidance and discuss potential alternative options.

Do I need to be an Irish passport holder to open an account?

No, holding an Irish passport is not mandatory for opening a business bank account in Ireland. Whether you're an Irish citizen or hail from any corner of the globe, you're welcome to explore the possibilities and benefits that come with having an Irish business bank account.

Do I need to be a resident of Ireland to open an account?

Contrary to what you might expect, you also don't need to be an Irish resident to open a business bank account in the country.

As a non-resident, you can open an account, but you'll need to provide proof of address from your home country alongside an ID. Depending on the bank's requirements, this could be a scanned copy or an original document, such as a passport or driving licence.

Does my business need to be based in Ireland to open an account?

Even though your business doesn't need to be based in Ireland to open an Irish business account, for it to be recognised as Irish, it needs to meet a few key criteria.

Firstly, the company must have at least one director. Additionally, the business must appoint a separate company secretary, ensuring a clear distinction of roles and responsibilities. Secondly, it must possess an Irish registered address and a business address. This doesn't mean you need to physically have your entire operation in Ireland, but an official Irish presence is a requirement.

Lastly, the company should have at least one shareholder, and some form of share capital must be in place. This is the invested money that, in return, provides the shareholders with a claim on the company's assets and earnings.

So while your entire operation doesn’t necessarily need to be physically located in Ireland, a certain level of establishment within the country is required to open an Irish business bank account.

How long will it take to open an Irish business account?

Opening a business bank account in Ireland isn't an overnight affair, but with the right preparation and decision-making, it can be a relatively smooth and swift process. The timeline can depend on various factors, including the specific banking provider you choose, the complexity of your business structure, and the readiness of your documents.

Traditional high-street banks can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to finalise your account setup. This is due to the checks and balances that are part and parcel of the banking sector's regulatory responsibilities.

However, the process can be significantly faster if you choose a digital alternative such as Wise, Airwallex, or Revolut. These fintech companies are renowned for their streamlined operations and swift response times, which sometimes only take a few hours or a couple of days.

Always conduct thorough research or reach out to your potential bank to gain a better understanding of the expected timeline. This proactive step can assist in planning your business activities efficiently, guaranteeing that your Irish business account is prepared right on time when you need it.

How much will it cost?

Opening a business account in Ireland comes with its own set of costs. These are generally manageable, and it's good to note that most Irish banks no longer require a minimum deposit for individual account holders. Here are some of the typical fees associated with business accounts in Ireland:

  • Monthly fees: These are fairly standard and are charged to cover the administration and maintenance of your account.

  • Transaction fees: Each credit card transaction often incurs a fee, which can vary depending on your banking provider and the nature of your account.

  • International payment fees: For businesses engaging in international transactions or currency exchange, expect to incur additional costs.

  • Cash deposit and withdrawal fees: Banks may impose fees for cash deposits and withdrawals, especially if these involve large amounts or exceed certain limits.

  • Nonsufficient funds (NSF) fees: If a transaction attempt exceeds your account balance, you may be hit with an NSF fee.

  • Wire transfer fees: Need to transfer money to another bank from your business account? Keep in mind that wire transfer fees may apply.

Ireland's major banks, including Bank of Ireland (BOI), Allied Irish Banks (AIB), and Ulster, offer a period of fee-free banking for new business customers, often up to two years, allowing businesses to find their footing.

For larger companies, other charges may come into play, such as fees for making bulk charges via Direct Debit or bulk credits.

Also, keep an eye out for costs tied to foreign currency transactions. While banks might claim there are no charges for non-Euro transactions, profits are often made through the margin on the exchange rates used.

Banks may also impose commissions and other fees on foreign transactions - AIB, for example, levies a €6.35 charge for an incoming Sterling payment over €127.

For cheaper international payments, consider a business account like Wise Business for mid-market exchange rates and low, transparent fees.

Are there companies that can help me set up a business account in Ireland?

Some firms offer comprehensive services to ease your business setup journey in Ireland,  including opening a business bank account. Notable players in this field include Company Bureau and Irish Formations. They do more than just establish business accounts; they handle the intricacies of both Irish and European business norms.

Company Bureau, for instance, maintains solid relationships with key stakeholders within major Irish and European financial institutions. This connection ensures a seamless setup of Irish bank accounts for both local and overseas-registered companies, including the arrangement of international bank accounts for Ireland-based companies and even the establishment of merchant account services.

Similarly Irish Formations can provide assistance for the account opening process. They cater to a wide range of business needs, acknowledging that sometimes, your situation may not allow for a face-to-face meeting with bank representatives. To address this, they offer remote company bank account services where possible.

Another option to consider is Xolo, which specialises in providing business setup, contracting, invoicing, accounting, taxation, and compliance solutions. Xolo aims to simplify business administration, ensure proper tax filing, and help you navigate government regulations while prioritising your company's best interests.

These organisations provide a complete suite of services for your business setup needs, simplifying the process and ensuring you comply with Ireland's legal and business requirements.

What protections are available for business account deposits in Ireland?

In Ireland, the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS) is a safety net for customers of banks, building societies, or credit unions authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland in case these institutions fail to repay their deposits. The Central Bank oversees this scheme, funded by the credit institutions it covers.

The DGS covers depositors of various types, such as individuals, companies, or clubs, regardless of their residency or citizenship. For sole traders with both personal and business accounts, or individuals with personal and partnership accounts at the same bank, the DGS provides a separate €100,000 protection for each account category.

When a bank fails, the DGS promises to pay the verified compensation within ten working days, providing businesses with a sense of financial security and peace of mind.

Business accounts in Ireland: 3 high-street picks

Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland offers three distinct business accounts designed to cater to the unique needs of businesses.

  1. Business Current Account

  2. Small Business Packages Account

  3. Business Agri Package

Allied Irish Banks

Allied Irish Banks offers a variety of business accounts. Here’s what they offer:

  1. Business Current Account

  2. Start-up Current Account

  3. Young Farmers Current Account

Ulster Bank

Ulster Bank provides up to five different business account options, including:

  1. Business Switch Account

  2. Start-up Account

  3. Business Account:

  4. Community Account

  5. Foreign Currency Account

Digital alternatives: Wise, Airwallex, Revolut, and Starling

With the constant-changing business and economic landscape, it's also important not to overlook the alternatives to traditional high-street banks, like Wise and Revolut.

These digital providers offer accounts that make cross-border transactions more accessible, efficient, and cost-effective, making them appealing options for companies with international operations. Here are some of their features and benefits.

Wise Business Account

  • Add funds to your account in 20 currencies, including EUR, AUD, GBP, USD, and more.

  • Comfortably keep and manage over 50+ currencies.

  • Enjoy an attractive interest rate of 2.83% on your EUR balances.

  • Withdrawals up to 200 EUR per month per account are free.

  • Convert your funds into EUR and use them to make payments in Ireland and beyond.

  • Accept EUR payments from any bank account worldwide without incurring receiving fees.

  • Enjoy all of the benefits of the mid-market exchange rate.

Airwallex EUR Global Account

  • Receive a set of European account details for sending and receiving payments in EUR.

  • With Airwallex, you can hold funds in multiple currencies, providing the freedom to create a global payment network.

  • Benefit from interbank FX rates and a low conversion fee of just 0.5% or 1% above the interbank rate, which means less spending when you bring back funds.

  • Their accounts are free to open and manage, with no sign-up or monthly fees.

  • Domestic and batch transfers are free of charge.

Revolut Business account

  • Free-tier business account: No monthly fees, pay only for what you use and receive local EUR account details (SEPA) for efficient EEA payments. Ideal for businesses just starting out or those looking for simple banking solutions.

  • Painless transfers: Free transfers to Revolut accounts and IBANs for global transactions. Enjoy fee-free international payments within your monthly allowance on selected plans.

  • Local payments: Make fee-free local payments within your plan's allowance, with a €0.20 fee per transaction for anything over this.

Starling EUR account

  • Euro business account: For just £2 a month, hold, send, and receive euro payments seamlessly. Ideal for businesses dealing with European suppliers, contractors, or customers.

  • Currency conversion: Conveniently convert euros into pounds or vice versa. A competitive exchange rate and transparent 0.4% conversion fee ensure no unpleasant surprises.

  • Single debit card: Use one card to manage both your EUR and GBP business accounts. You can specify the source of your EUR card transactions in the app.

Conclusion: consider digital alternatives

The choice of where and how to open a business account in Ireland is ultimately up to you. Traditional high-street banks may have been the go-to option in the past, but banking is rapidly evolving. Digital challengers such as Wise and Revolut, among others, have emerged as viable, innovative, and often more flexible alternatives.

Whether high-street or digital, each provider has different entry requirements and offerings. Therefore, conducting thorough research and talking directly to your chosen provider is crucial. In an increasingly digital world, exploring these modern banking alternatives might just give your business the competitive edge it needs to thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I open a business account in Ireland with bad credit?

Yes, opening a business account in Ireland with bad credit is possible, though it might be challenging. Banks may conduct a credit check during the account opening process, and a poor credit history could impact their decision. However, certain financial institutions may offer business accounts specifically designed for those with bad credit.

Do I need a business account in Ireland?

In Ireland, limited companies must legally have a separate bank account for their business operations, ensuring clear financial records. However, for sole traders and freelancers, having a dedicated business account is not a legal requirement, though it's often recommended for clarity and professionalism.

How are deposits protected in Ireland?

In Ireland, deposits are protected under the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS), operated by the Central Bank of Ireland. The scheme safeguards eligible deposits up to €100,000 per person per institution in case a bank, building society, or credit union is unable to repay deposits. This coverage applies to both individual and joint accounts.