IRELAND COUNTRY PROFILE
Overview The Republic of Ireland’s EU membership, coupled with its high standard of living, stunning landscape, elevated heritage and culture, advantageous business environment, entrepreneurial spirit, and stable society and economy make it an attractive location for investors wishing to relocate. Ireland is a stunning island nation on the westernmost edge of Europe that is steeped in green landscapes (it’s not called the Emerald Isle for nothing) and rugged rocks, as well as a rich history and culture.
Education and health Ireland has a relatively young, highly educated population and boasts an average of 18.8 years of schooling. It is home to some of the world’s most prestigious and well-known boarding schools and universities, including Trinity College Dublin. Its universities are ranked in the top 1% of research-producing institutions worldwide, with a particular focus on maths and chemistry. The country is regarded as an education leader in health sciences, including medicine, pharma and bio-tech, and further delivers world-renowned law schools and arts programmes. Residents of Ireland can access free education up to secondary school, and after three years of residency, can enjoy subsidised tuition (from 50-70% depending on course) at university level. Life expectancy of Irish citizens has increased by nearly six years since 2020 (now 82.2 years) and is now above the EU average. The country offers state-of-the-art healthcare with health spending having increased moderately in recent years (in 2017, it was 1/5 higher than the EU average), though Ireland remains the only western European country without universal coverage for primary care. Irish residents can obtain a European Health Insurance Card which covers various medical expenses for injuries and illnesses incurred while travelling in other EU countries.
Transport Hiring or owning a car is the best way to get around Ireland outside of the main cities and roads/motorways are good. There’s an array of public transportation systems, including buses, coaches, trains and ferries. Train journeys are comfortable, though frequency of service is not as much as other EU countries, and there are plenty of scenic routes. The bus network is more extensive with frequent buses on the main inter-city routes. Ferry services are also used to ferry people from one place to another. Ireland has five international airports with three in the south (Republic of Ireland) – Dublin, Shannon and Cork, with Dublin the busiest offering direct flights to more than xx destinations. There are smaller regional airports offering flights to the UK and other parts of Ireland.
Lifestyle Ranked 3rd in the world for quality and richness of life (Human Development Index 2019), Ireland boasts a high level of wellbeing, with high life satisfaction, strong community engagement, as well as low levels of pollution and high perceived personal security. Ireland offers a multicultural, liberal and friendly environment, with citizens who are renowned for being warm, funny and friendly. In fact, Ireland places 16th in ranking of world happiness from 2017-2019. Irish culture is similar to that of the UK, with a love of sports such as football, rugby and horse racing, and a rich literary heritage, though the country has its own strong culture in Gaelic games and Irish music. There are plenty of golf courses in Ireland, as well as lakes with fishing a big sport.
Climate Ireland offers a temperate climate that is mild, cool, damp and cloudy with lots of rainfall year-round. The wind is frequent and lively and it rains on average even more than once every two days. Temperatures range from 10C daytime in winter to average highs in summer of 20C.
Population 4,904 million (2019)
Languages English is the official and most widely spoken language followed by Irish Gaelic.
Religion Predominantly Christianity with a mainly Catholic following in the Republic (78.3% in 2016 census).
Capital City Dublin
GDP Per Capita US$78,806 (2018)
Economy Ireland boasts one of the world’s most stable economies, and one that has been fast-growing due to its focus on technology (it is the fastest-growing economy in the Eurozone) and is the sixth best performing economy in the world (out of 186 countries), according to the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom. That’s partly due to the fact it is highly open to foreign capital and has been one of the top international attractors of large foreign direct investments in the last five years. It is one of Europe’s key technology and business hubs, with a number of tech giants headquartered in the country, including Facebook, Twitter, Intel, Apple, Pfizer and Google. However, the country is diverse, no doubt its economic success, with other leading industries including financial services, engineering, pharmaceutics, medical technologies and alcoholic beverages. Growth has been strong, despite bouts of volatility. Its living standards remain high. It has a supportive regulatory and tax regime.
Did you know…? Ireland further offers a Start-Up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) allowing foreigners with an innovative business idea and minimum funding of €50,000 to set up and run a business in Ireland in exchange for a 12-month immigration permission. The business cannot be in retail or catering, be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within 3-4 years of start-up and be less than 5 years old.
IRELAND RESIDENCY PROGRAMME
(Immigrant Investor Program)
- Minimum outlay €500,000
- Processing time 3-6 months for residency
- Residency or travel requirements 1 day per calendar year
- Freedom of movement 186 countries
- Investment Options 4
Overview First established in 2012 by the Government of Ireland to stimulate investment and create employment and to attract successful and entrepreneurial individuals, Ireland’s Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) is highly sought-after, and has been highly successful, raising approx.. €700 million to date. The IIP targets business innovators and entrepreneurial investors and their immediate families, giving them the chance to acquire a residency permit, which can lead to permanent residency or citizenship in this EU member state. Following investment, via one of four options, ranging from €500,000 to €2 million, the programme provides foreigners with a residency permit (within 3-6 months) for two years at first, and which can be renewed to five years and indefinitely thereafter. After five years, Irish permanent residency (without investment) or Irish citizenship can be applied for, though you will have to be physically resident for 12 months leading up to applying for citizenship.
Pros It offers a proven pathway to citizenship after just five years of residency, giving applicants and their families valuable Irish passports (186 countries and an EU member). One of the biggest pros is that you don’t have to move there (if you don’t want to) to claim residency. The programme offers a low residency requirement, with investors only having to spend one day per calendar year (of the five-year initial residency) on Irish soil. Also, there are no language tests or requirements for applicants to the residency programme. The entire family are eligible for residency (and possible citizenship after five years) without further fees, including spouses/civil partners and dependent children up to the age of 23 years. Applicants to the programme can cash in their investment after five years, but can continue to renew and claim residency and/or apply for citizenship. The country offers a favourable tax regime (corporate tax rate of 12.5%, reduced to 6.25% for tech companies and 0% tax rate on foreign dividends) and a high standard of living within a multicultural yet liberal society. There are no caps on annual applications for the programme.
Cons To be eligible for residency, applicants must provide evidence that they have a minimum net worth of €2 million whatever the investment. To be eligible for Irish citizenship after five years of residency, residents must have been physically resident in Ireland for at least 12 months immediately prior to application. Compared to some of the other Europe-based residency programmes, such as Portugal and Greece, minimum investment outlay is significant, and investment cannot be made in personal property.
Best for… Entrepreneurial investors. Its programme is set up to attract and reward business innovators and entrepreneurs and the country offers an innovative and embracing environment, especially in the area of tech and start-ups, and has a reputation for protecting investor funds.
Ease of processing Gaining residency is a straightforward process with the Department of Justice usually granting residency between 2-6 months, and since June 2020, can now be accepted at any time throughout the year. Make an application for approval under the IIP indicating the investment opportunity you wish to pursue, providing requested supported documentation including evidence of net worth and pay €1,500 fee. Residency, via a residency permit, is granted to applicants following an investment of minimum €500,000. Residents must hold a residency permit for five years, with initial permission given for two years, and further renewal for three years. During the five years, residents need only spend one day per year of those five years in the country. No language requirements for initial applicants. After five years with the Portuguese investment visa, applicants can apply for a passport. Find the exact Guidelines for Applicants here
Freedom of movement As a resident, you have unrestricted travel within the Common Travel Area (CTA) – the UK, Ireland and The Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. Following citizenship (after five years of residency), you can obtain an Irish passport (ranked 6th in the world) with visa-free access to 186 countries, including being able to work, live and study freely in all 27 member states of the EU. Dependent children and parents will also qualify for the same benefits once citizenship granted for all.
Pathway to Citizenship Following five years of holding a residency permit, applicants and immediate family members are eligible to apply for Irish citizenship and passport and must show they have resided in Ireland for five of the preceding nine years (residency permit, not physical presence) and must be physically resident the 12 months prior to applying. They must also be of good character and be free from criminal convictions and show they intend to reside in Ireland after naturalisation.
Investment options 4
IRELAND RBI INVESTMENTS
The Immigrant Investor Program delivers four investments options, all of which must be kept for a minimum of five years. A non-refundable fee of €1,500 is necessary for all applications and covers all family members.
Option 1 Investment of a non-refundable €500,000 endowment in a public project via the Irish Diaspora Loan Fund (IDLF) that benefits the arts, sports, health, culture or education. The most straightforward option.
Option 2 An investment in of at least €1 million over three years in either a single Irish enterprise or multiple enterprises, either start-up or an existing business, but must be registered and headquartered in Ireland and support employment. This suits applicants who have their own investment or business strategy and see the benefits of Ireland as a location. This is the most popular option but, depending upon the enterprise, it can be refused. There is a strong preference for social housing, primary care centres and nursing homes.
Option 3 An investment in of at least €1 million over three years in a fund that has been approved by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
Option 4 An investment in of at least €2 million in an Irish Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), one or multiple, that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange. The total investment must be held for three years, after which 50% of shares can be sold, with a further 25% sold after four years, and all can be sold after five years. Such an option provides an investor with a lower-risk property investment model in which the investment is diversified into a pool of properties. They generate a regular income stream for investors.
IRELAND RBI RANKINGS
Passport Ranking (Henley Passport Index and Global Mobility Report Q4 2020) 6 / 109
Ease of doing business Ranking (Doing Business 2020, The World Bank) 24 / 190
Economic Freedom (2020 Index of Economic Freedom) 6 / 186