Immigration to Ireland for business

A business visit visa permits you to work in Ireland for up to 14 days provided the purpose of your visit is to engage in business related activities.

British nationals

British nationals can travel freely to Ireland without the need for a visa. This is as a result of the CTA (Common Travel Area) between the UK and Ireland. British and Irish citizens can live and work in each others’ countries without the need for a visa or permit.

The Common Travel Area arrangement continues despite the exit of the UK from the European Union.

EEA nationals do not need a visa or permit to carry on business in Ireland.

Visa exempt

Nationals from certain countries are visa exempt-that is, they do not need a visa for short visits to Ireland, including business visits. Business visitors will need documentation which sets out the purpose of the visit, evidence of sufficient funds, and a letter of invitation from an Irish business contact.

Short stay business visas

Short stay visas are called “C” visas. A short stay “C” visa allows you to travel and stay in Ireland for up to 90 days for activities related to your job including

  • Meetings
  • Negotiate or sign contracts
  • Work for 14 days or less

Your work must start and end within a single 14 day period.

You cannot work more than once during the 90 day period.

A “C” visa permission can be extended if there is an unexpected change in your circumstances since you entered Ireland. The temporary extension can be for up to 90 days.

Situations which might give rise to this extension include your inability to travel for medical reasons and/or there must be a change in your circumstances since you entered Ireland.

The application can be made to the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) service or your local immigration office.

Van der Elst visa

A Van der Elst visa arises from a ECJ 1994 decision in the Van der Elst case. It is based on the EU principle of freedom to provide services within the EU. It allows for temporary cross-border posting of employees without the need for a work permit.

A non-EEA national who is lawfully resident and employed in another EU country may be able to work in Ireland for that employer on a temporary basis without the need for a work permit.

You will not be permitted to work other than for the work for which you are approved and you cannot access public funds.

British Irish Visa Scheme

This scheme allows certain individuals to travel to and around Ireland and the UK (the common travel area) on a single visa for short stays only.

A single entry BIVS endorsed visa means a single entry to the CTA.

You can also get a multiple entry visa which allows you to visit as many times as you like within the permitted stay period. This will be stamped on your passport when you first arrive in Ireland.

Visa Waiver programme

The short stay visa waiver programme allows nationals of certain countries to travel to Ireland without the need to obtain an Irish visa, provided they have entered the UK on foot of certain UK short stay visas.

In order to avail of the programme you must have landed and gained lawful entry to the UK on foot of your current UK visa, prior to coming to Ireland. This programme is not reciprocal, however. You cannot enter the UK on foot of an Irish visa if you are a visa required national under UK law.

Start Up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)

This programme allows an entrepreneur to apply for permission to establish a business and reside in Ireland on a full-time basis.

You may apply for STEP if you:

  1. Are a person of good character
  2. Have no criminal convictions
  3. Have €50,000 funding
  4. Have an innovative business proposal

The types of business which are desirable include those in areas of high potential growth.

Businesses in retail, catering, and personal services are not suitable for this scheme.

The purpose of this programme is to allow non-EEA nationals and their families to start a high potential business in Ireland and to obtain residency status in Ireland.

High Potential Start-Up (HPSU)

The type of start up within the STEP programme must be a start up which  is introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets. It should be capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and generating sales of €1,000,000 in sales within 3 years of starting up, be headquartered and controlled in Ireland, be led by an experienced management team and have funding of at least €50,000 for their business proposal.

A comprehensive business plan will be needed and proof of the funds of €50,000 having been transferred to a financial institution regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, evidence of good character from the police authorities of each country in which you have resided for more than 6 months during the previous 10 years, and audited accounts for an existing business that is relocating to Ireland.

Useful resources:

the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) on the Department of Justice website.

STEP guidelines

STEP application form