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Company Formation Ireland



Shelf Companies in Ireland

Updated on Wednesday 25th March 2020

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Buying a shelf company in Ireland

Those who are interested in opening a company in Ireland can register a business following the standard registration procedure, or they can opt to purchase a ready-made company. The term “ready-made company” is the same with shelf company, another way to refer to this type of business. As a general rule, this type of company is usually incorporated as a limited liability company, because this represents the most common way to start a business in Ireland.

These types of companies are dormant and are not involved in trading activities which is why they have no liability. However, in order to make the purchase, company due diligence is advised and our experts in company formation in Ireland will provide this type of service. The main reason foreign investors purchase shelf companies in Ireland is the required registration number that is allocated to a company upon incorporation and that will help them start their business activities right away.


You can follow the video below created by our Irish company formation specialists if you want to see the main steps for buying a ready-made company in Ireland:



What are the advantages of Irish shelf companies?

One of the main reasons for selecting a shelf company in Ireland is that, through this option, the investors can start their business operations in a fast manner, as the purchase formalities can be completed in only few days. Investors will be able to set up their corporate bank account right away and even buy assets.

Another advantage offered by the shelf company is that the investors will benefit from an increased credibility on the local market, given by the age of the company. Investors must know that the shelf company can be purchased by any type of businessman and that it can be suitable for any business sector. 


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Since the Irish shelf company is generally set up as a limited liability company, the investors can also enjoy the tax benefits available for this business form, as limited liability companies can be taxed with lower corporate taxes and they can also obtain various incentives; our team of consultants in Irish company formation can assist with advice on the taxes applicable to limited liability companies and can also provide information on the overall costs of purchasing a ready-made company. They can also help you in the VAT registration process in Ireland. The basic advantages of a shelf company are presented below: 

  • a suitable way to enter the Irish business market for foreign investors who are not familiarized with the incorporation procedure and the local laws;
  • investors will only need to sign the purchase contract and then draft new articles of association and memorandum;
  • it represents a suitable way of starting a business in the case in which the investors plan to obtain funding from a local bank;
  • the purchase procedure can be completed in a period of 1-2 days, as opposed to starting a new company (which generally lasts approximately 10 days);
  • it can help in having a more reliable business image in front of business partners, clients and financing institutions;
  • it can be of help in the case in which the investors want to participate in various contracts, as the age of the company can be a criterion for the applicant companies. 


What are the main business forms for Irish shelf companies? 


Companies that are available for purchase in Ireland are incorporated as limited liability companies. Most of the shelf companies are, as mentioned above, incorporated as private limited liability companies; however, shelf companies in Ireland are also available as public limited companies. The reasons why the private limited company is the most preferred option are given by its attractive characteristics – no minimum share capital requirements and no residency requirements for the company’s directors (however, they have to be citizens of the European Economic Area). 

The public limited company, on the other hand, requires a minimum share capital of EUR 38,092, and a quarter of this sum has to be deposited during the incorporation of the company. In order to start this type of company, it is necessary to have at least seven shareholders, while the limited liability company  (LLC) can operate with a single shareholder


Why choose a LLC for an Irish shelf company? 


Besides the above mentioned advantages, the LLC is the most suitable way to open a company in Ireland due to the fact that its shareholders are protected against the company’s liabilities. The LLC in Ireland can be registered with 100% foreign ownership. More importantly, this structure is taxed with a corporate tax rate of only 12,5%, which is the lowest corporate tax rate applicable in the EU member states. 

As a general rule, the LLC is required to appoint an annual general meeting, but in the case in which the company has only one founder, this requirement is no longer applicable. LLCs can benefit from tax exemptions and tax reliefs. For example, when starting a business activity that was not previously developed here, the company can obtain a full tax relief on the corporate tax for a period of three years.

However, this depends on the charged amount, and the number of employees the company has. Companies can also benefit from an exemption on the payment of the withholding tax applicable to distributed dividends, and may obtain tax reliefs for investments in the field of research and development. 


What are the procedures for purchasing an Irish shelf company?


In the case of a shelf company in Ireland registered as a private limited liability company, the investors will have to appoint minimum one director; the company can have a single shareholder. The main legal procedure involved in purchasing a ready-made company in Ireland refers to the share transfer, which will change the ownership of the company. The advantage of the procedure is that it takes much less time compared to when starting the procedure of company formation in Ireland.  

As a new owner of the shelf company, its new shareholder will have the right to modify the company’s trading name, to appoint new directors, a company secretary and change the company’s registered office. In order to become the owner of a shelf company, the ownership transfer documents have to be signed, which will then be followed by the documents that must be signed by the new directors. If the company will modify its object of activity and will carry out import-export operations, it will need to obtain an Irish EORI number

Provided that the company’s shareholder wants to change the company’s trading name, this issue can be addressed in the same day. Our team of consultants in company registration in Ireland can assist investors in this procedure through the power of attorney. Investors can purchase an Irish shelf company that was incorporated recently, but they can also request an older shelf company (that has been dormant over the years), incorporated with the local authorities a decade ago, for example. 

However, these modifications have to be notified to the Irish Trade Register, which maintains up-to-date information on any company registered in Ireland. Investors are invited to contact our team of specialists in company formation in Ireland for complete information regarding the purchase of a ready-made company


Meet us in Dublin

Paul Sheridan is one of our company formation specialists. He can help you establish your company in Ireland fast and easy.


Call us now at +353 1 254 6150  to set up an appointment with our lawyers in Dublin, Ireland. Alternatively you can incorporate your company without traveling to Ireland. All our clients beneficiate from the joint expertize of local lawyers and international consultants. 

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- cost-efficiency: competitive company formation prices;

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