How to open a business account in Ireland: Step-by-step guide 2023
If you’re a sole proprietor, freelancer, or business owner in Ireland, having a business bank account can make it easier to manage your company finances and accounts. Depending on the business entity you have, it may even be a legal requirement.
This guide walks through all you need to know about opening a business bank account in Ireland, including which businesses need one, how to get started, and the fees you may need to pay. We’ll also highlight a couple of smart alternatives if you want an easier way to manage your company money - Wise Business and OFX.
What is a business bank account?
A business bank account is used to send and receive payments on behalf of your company. It can also be used to hold a balance, and to allow easier analysis of company performance.
Importantly, with a business bank account you’ll be able to keep your personal and company finances completely separate, making it easier to track business performance, manage your accounts and file taxes.
How to choose a business bank account
Getting the right business account can make life easier - and save you money, too. However, business account features and fees do vary widely, so you’ll need to do some research before choosing the Irish business bank account that best suits you.
Here are some things to consider while you shop around the business accounts:
Does the account have monthly or quarterly fees?
What are the service fees?
Is the account easy to use, and is there a convenient branch or ATM if you need to pay in cash?
Can you get a business debit card?
How much are international transactions, like sending money overseas or spending on your card abroad?
Does the account come with multi-currency functionality?
Can you add team members to the account easily, and manage user permissions so everyone has access to the tools they need to do their job?
Banks aren’t the only place you can get a business account. Specialist providers like Wise and OFX can be smart options to have instead of - or as well as - a regular Irish business bank account. Specialist services often come with different features compared to a normal bank - like low cost international payments and multi-currency functionality. This can be especially handy if you have customers, staff or suppliers overseas.
To help you weigh up whether a business bank account, or an account from a specialist provider might work best for you, let’s take a look at the key features for Wise and OFX, compared to business accounts from a couple of major Irish banks.
|Account fees||Card options||International usage||Key features|
One off fee of 50 EUR to open account
No monthly charges, no minimum balance
Linked international business debit cards available
Cards cost 4 EUR each
2 free ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world, to a total of 200 EUR/month; 0.5 EUR + 1.75% after that
Send payments to 80+ countries, from 0.41% fee
Hold and exchange 50+ currencies
Local bank details for 10 currencies
Exchange currencies using the mid-market rate and low fees
Integrate with cloud based accounting software
Make batch payments and automate workflow with the Wise API
|OFX||No monthly charges, no minimum balance||Not available|
Make payments around the world, with currency exchange costs which beat the banks
Local bank details for 7 currencies
Get paid in 7 currencies from marketplaces, payment gateways and direct from clients
Set up one off and automated payments in a range of currencies
Integrate with Xero accounting software
|Bank of Ireland||15 EUR/quarter fee||0.25 EUR per ATM withdrawal|
Foreign currency card fees: 2% of transaction value for purchases, and 3.5% for withdrawals
Non-euro cross border payments - 0.2% of the value (max 50 EUR) + foreign exchange markup
Several different types of business account available
Access an overdraft and cash handling services
|AIB||4.50 EUR/quarter fee||0.35 EUR per ATM withdrawal||Foreign currency card fees: 1.75% of transaction value for purchases, and 3.5% for withdrawals (2.5% currency conversion fee + 1% commission)|
Cash handling services
Some services available through post office branches
Business advisor services
Does my business need a business account?
Business bank accounts can be very helpful for all sorts of individuals and small business owners.
If you’re a freelancer or sole proprietor you won’t necessarily be legally obliged to open a business bank account - but it could still be very helpful to have one.
If you have an Irish registered company you’ll need to have a specific bank account for your business, to ensure you keep your own money and your company’s money separately.
What are the benefits of having a business bank account?
Even if you’re not obliged to have a business bank account, there are a few good reasons you might decide to get one. Here’s a look at some of the key benefits of having a business bank account:
Business accounts help you separate your personal and company finances
Business bank accounts often offer lower fees compared to personal accounts
Using a business account looks professional, as you can pay and get paid in your company’s name
With a business bank account you can easily track and measure your company’s performance
Some business accounts have time saving features like batch payments and accounting integration
Banks often offer business advice and development support, including financing, to their account customers
It’s easier to manage your tax accounting and company reporting requirements when your company finances are independent of your own money
How much does it cost to open a business account
Managing your money comes with some fees - whether that’s account maintenance charges or transaction and service costs. However, it’s important to pick a business account which doesn’t charge too much for the services you need - and which doesn’t have steep ongoing costs that could eat away at your company profits.
Here’s a recap of the costs of opening and maintaining a business account with the providers we looked at earlier.
One off fee of 50 EUR to open account
No monthly charges, no minimum balance
|OFX||No monthly charges, no minimum balance|
|Bank of Ireland||15 EUR/quarter|
How to open a business account in Ireland
Whether or not you can open a business bank account online will depend on the type of company you run. For Bank of Ireland, as an example, sole traders can get their business bank account sorted without needing an in person meeting, but for all other business entity types you have to visit a branch and talk through your needs with a business advisor. AIB requests all customers visit a branch to open their business bank account.
Here’s an outline of the basic process to open a business bank account in Ireland:
Choose the account and provider you prefer
Gather all the documents requested (more on this below)
Complete the application form online or in person
Show or upload your paperwork
Your account and business will be verified and your account will be opened
If you’d rather not have to go to a bank branch in person to open your business account, don’t forget you can also pick an alternative provider like Wise or OFX which allow online onboarding for convenience.
What do I need to open a business bank account?
Exactly what’s needed to open a business bank account will depend on the business entity type you have, and the provider you select. To give an example, let’s look at the paperwork needed to open a business account with Bank of Ireland:
Proof of ID and residential address for company director(s), authorised signatories and beneficial owners
6 months of your business bank statements (unless you’re a new company)
Certificate of Incorporation
Memorandum and Articles of Association
Certified accounts from your business (if requested)
Company tax reference number
If for some reason you can’t present documents in their original form, the bank may accept certified copies which have been signed by a suitable person. Advisors are also on hand if you can’t pull together all the requested documents, and can let you know if there are alternative options available to you.
How long does it take to open a business bank account?
Whether you’re opening a business account from a regular bank or with a specialist, there will need to be some verification checks done before you can use your account. These checks are a legal requirement, to make sure accounts aren’t used fraudulently or for illegal purposes. Exactly how long it’ll take to get your account verified can vary depending on the provider and your business type - providers like Wise may take anything from a day or two to 10 days. If you’re opening an account with a regular Irish bank, the business advisor you talk to can let you know how long they expect verification to take when you attend the branch to open your account.
Can I open a business bank account in Ireland as a non-resident?
Some banks will let you open an account as a non-resident by having a representative attend the branch to present your paperwork. However, in this case you may need extra documents, and you’ll probably have to have everything certified by an official.
You can also open a business account in Ireland as a non-resident by choosing a specialist provider. Providers like Wise and OFX can allow you to open an account with EUR holding features, even if you’re not an Irish resident. Just use your normal proof of ID and address wherever you are in the world, and open your account online or through the provider’s app.
Can I open a business bank account online?
You may be able to open a business bank account online if you’re a sole proprietor in Ireland. However, some banks require all customers to attend a branch in person when opening a business account.
For an alternative which lets you get started without even leaving home, try a specialist digital service like Wise or OFX. These providers don’t have a branch network - so they may not be ideal if you’re a heavily cash based business - but if you’re mainly planning on transacting digitally anyway, they can be a far more convenient solution than a normal bank.
Can I switch business bank accounts?
Yes. You can switch business bank accounts if you decide the one you have isn’t working. Many Irish banks even offer a switching service to get support when moving your account from another bank. Or, you can simply close one business bank account and apply for your new one yourself afterwards.
Types of business accounts in Ireland
Different banks and providers have their own account products - making it essential to look around and compare your options before you commit. Some account types you’ll come across include:
Business accounts specifically aimed at startups
Business accounts which target SMEs and more established companies
Digital only business accounts
Multi-currency business accounts which let you transact internationally easily
Picking an account that will suit your business both today and in the future can help save you hassle down the line. Use this guide to get a feel for which Irish business bank account might suit you, and compare a few before you make the leap.
There are lots of business bank account options in Ireland. Mainstream Irish banks offer business accounts which target different types of customers, including startups and larger firms. Regular banks can also offer extras like financing and credit services, as well as a branch network for cash deposits. However, traditional banks can have fairly high fees, particularly when it comes to international transactions - which can be a major downside if you have customers, suppliers or staff based overseas.
Compare a few business accounts to find one which suits you. As well as having a business bank account from a major Irish bank, you might find you can get a better deal on sending and spending money in foreign currencies with a specialist business account. Providers like Wise or OFX have no ongoing fees, so you’ll just pay a low, transparent charge for the services you actually use - and you could save versus using your normal bank.
FAQs - How to open a business account in Ireland
You’ll find it easy to open a business bank account in Ireland once you’ve collected all the required paperwork. However, bear in mind that some Irish banks need you to make a visit to a branch in person - which can be inconvenient. Instead, take a look at digital alternatives like Wise and OFX to see if you can get a flexible account with an entirely online onboarding process.
You’re not usually obliged to open a business bank account as a sole trader. However, having one can make it far easier to keep on top of your business finances, and may even cut your overall banking costs.
The business bank accounts we looked at from major Irish banks had variable quarterly service fees, but the main costs you’ll likely pay are transaction charges when you use your account. Look at the account fee schedule carefully to make sure you’re clear on all the costs involved - and compare some regular bank accounts against specialist business account providers, to see if you can get a cheaper alternative.
Irish registered companies usually have to have a separate business bank account, but this may not need to be from an Irish bank. That said, having a bank account which can hold and exchange euros will be essential - so choosing either an Irish bank or a specialist provider which lets you hold, send, spend and receive euros easily is a good choice.