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Tips for doing business in Ireland

Doing business in Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is Europe’s third largest island, boasting over 1700 miles of picturesque coastline. So it may surprise you to learn that “the Emerald Isle” offers a young, educated and increasingly diverse workforce. In fact, the World Bank ranks Ireland 17th out of 190 countries for ease of doing business.

Over 1,000 multinational companies have a presence in the country, many located in Dublin – Ireland’s capital and economic hub. The city of Cork has also seen tremendous growth recently, with locals citing career opportunities, quality of life and lower cost of living as reasons to relocate there.

Here are some tips for doing business in Ireland.

1. Master the basics.

Both Irish and English are officially recognized languages. Even in regions where the native tongue is still spoken, people are proficient in English. With a hierarchical business structure, leaders make the decisions but relationships between colleagues tend to be less formal than in other parts of Europe. Expect some small talk at the start of meetings.

2. Seize the opportunities.

Companies looking to expand into the European Union will find Ireland an attractive point of entry. With a corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent, a 25 percent research and development credit, and significant VC and accelerator funds, Ireland is a top choice for established companies and startups alike.

3. Be mindful of Brexit.

In 1921, the island of Ireland was partitioned to create the Republic of Ireland, a sovereign state, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In recent years, the porous border between the two has meant a free flow of goods and services, with an estimated 30,000 people crossing the border each day for work. However, Great Britain’s Brexit vote to separate from the European Union raises many questions for both counties. Though the U.K. has pledged to prevent a hard border, EU regulations will require some level of customs enforcement, potentially hampering trade deals and complicating labor and supply chain logistics.

4. Appreciate the Celtic culture.

The Irish are known for their colorful language and informal irreverence. Though business culture is conservative, expect a bit of blarney but tread respectfully around controversial topics of the day, including politics and religion. Also, avoid the cliché questions about leprechauns and rainbows.

5. Be punctual, but patient.

As a foreigner conducting business in Ireland, you are expected to be on time. It is important to factor travel time into your schedule, especially through the traffic congestion of Dublin. Conversely, anticipate that your Irish counterparts may arrive late, though usually not more than 15 minutes.

6. Upsize your carry-on.

Ireland offers a maritime climate with moderate temperature fluctuations from season to season. If you visit for any length of time, assume there will be rain in the forecast. Make room in your suitcase for a raincoat, umbrella and waterproof footwear.

7. Leave the crown jewels at home.

Business attire is polished but subdued. Expect to see those iconic Irish tweeds and woolens and steer clear of bold colors. Avoid flashy or extravagant jewelry, as it is considered an off-putting show of wealth. In the city, business suits are the norm for men, though trousers for women are rare. Fashion relaxes as you head into the countryside.

8. Practice pub etiquette.

Out celebrating the closing of a big deal? Make sure you stand your round. The Irish embrace a system of rounds while ordering drinks. When it is your turn, be sure to offer to buy a drink for everyone in your group. Up your game by buying a round for the whole pub. Sláinte!