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Becoming self employed

Supports available
How to apply      
Where to apply

When you become self-employed it means you are carrying on your own business rather than working for an employer and there are a number of things to take into consideration. Working for yourself can have a number of advantages and disadvantages. For example, it means you are in control of what you do, so you can organise your own hours. On the other hand, it can involve working very hard and you may no longer have a regular income.

When you start a business you can do so either as a sole trader, partnership or limited company. The type of structure you choose depends on the kind of business you are carrying on, with whom you will be doing business and your attitude to risk. Here we look at setting up as a sole trader. That is, when you set up a business on your own. Being a sole trader is relatively straightforward to set up, but if your business fails, all your assets could be used to pay your creditors.


Much of the process of preparing for self-employment is about starting a business. This is the same information whether you are a sole trader or a partnership or company.

Local Enterprise Offices and local development companies provide supports to local businesses that are starting up or developing - see 'Supports available' below. Businessregulation.ie is a portal to help you identify the main regulations which affect your business.

Registration of business name

You may carry on your business using your own name. If you wish to use a business name you must register your business name with the Companies Registration Office - see 'How to apply' below. You will then be issued with a Certificate of Business Name which you must display prominently at your place of business.

You may need to have a business account with your bank. This allows you to keep your business income separate from your personal income. In general, you will need your Certificate of Business Name to open a business bank account.


The main legal obligation when becoming self-employed is that you must register as a self-employed person with Revenue. You pay tax on the profits from your business and on any other income that you have.

Further information on Self Employment and Taxes is available here or alternatively for full details please see the self-assessment and self-employment section on the Revenue.ie site. 

Supports Available

For an extensive list of the supports available to self-employed businesses, please complete the Supporting SMEs Online Tool to view your options.

How to apply

For tax purposes, you can register as a user for the Revenue Online Service (ROS). Revenue Online Service (ROS) enables you to view your own, or your client's, current position with Revenue for various taxes and levies, file tax returns and forms, and make payments for these taxes online in a variety of ways.

There are 3 steps to becoming a ROS customer:
Step 1: Apply for your ROS Access Number (RAN).
Step 2: Apply for your Digital Certificate.
Step 3: Download and Save your Digital Certificate.

Further Information: Revenue Online Service.

To register your business name an application can be made to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) via the online portal CORE. Please see their useful step by step guide here.

Where to apply


Companies Registration Office

Bloom House,
Gloucester Place Lower,
Dublin 1

Tel:+353 1 804 5200 
Homepage: http://www.cro.ie
Email: info@cro.ie

Department of Social Protection

Self-Employment Section
Social Welfare Office
Cork Street

Tel: +353 1 471 5898
Homepage: http://www.welfare.ie