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.

The Start Your Own Business scheme provides tax relief to people who are unemployed for at least 12 months and getting a qualifying social welfare payment and who set up a qualifying business. It runs from 23 October 2013 to 31 December 2016 and provides a two-year exemption from income tax (up to a maximum of €40,000 per year) for people who have been unemployed for at least 12 months prior to starting their own business. You can read more information in this Revenue guidance on the Start Your Own Business Relief.


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. The guide to self-employment, Toil and Trouble (pdf), is available on the Department of Social Protection website. The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed have published a leaflet on starting your own business (pdf). Local Enterprise Offices and local development companies provide supports to local businesses that are starting up or developing - see 'Supports available' below. is a portal to help you identify the main regulations which affect your business.

If you are a non-EEA national you can find information about starting a business in our document, Coming to set up a business or invest in Ireland.

The website has information on the services and entitlements available if you are self-employed and you are setting up a 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. There is an information leaflet on Registering Your Business Name.pdf (size 361.2 KB).

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.


Please find link to general information on your legal obligations with regard to tax and insurance when becoming self-employed

Becoming Self-Employed - Tax and Insurance.pdf (size 177.8 KB)

Planning permission

If you are working from home you may need planning permission, for example, if you are using part of your home for business purposes or if you were to build a shed or an office in your garden. You should contact your local authority for advice about planning permission.
Supports Available

For a list of the supports available to self-employed businesses, please click on the link below.

Becoming Self-Employed Supports Available.pdf (size 191 KB)

How to apply

To register with Revenue as a self-employed sole trader you do this using Revenue’s online service. Certain people can only register on paper using the Tax Registration form TR1.pdf (size 495.7 KB) and you can find information about them here. This form can be also be used to register for VAT - see above. You will receive a “Notice of Registration” confirming that you are registered for income tax and, if applicable, for VAT.

When you register with Revenue you are automatically registered for Class S PRSI. For information on PRSI for the self-employed you can contact your Intreo centre or social welfare office or the Self-Employment Section of the Department of Social Protection.

To register your business name you apply to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) using Form RBN1.pdf (size 142 KB) or online using CORE (Companies Online Registration Environment).

For further information about the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme contact the Employment Support Services of the Department of Social Protection.

Where to apply


Companies Registration Office

Parnell House
14 Parnell Square
Dublin 1

Tel:+353 (0) 1 804 5200
Locall:1890 220 226
Fax:+353 (0) 1 804 5222

Department of Social Protection

Self-Employment Section
Social Welfare Office
Cork Street

Tel:(01) 704 3000

Department of Social Protection

Employment Support Services
Social Welfare Services Office
Government Buildings
Shannon Lodge

Tel:(071) 967 2616
Locall:1890 92 79 99