You can set up a business as a sole trader, as a partnership or as a limited company. The type of structure you choose depends on the kind of business you are running, with whom you will be doing business and your attitude to risk. It is advisable to get the advice of a solicitor or accountant when considering the structure for your business. Businessregulation.ie is a portal to help you identify the main regulations which affect your business.
Sole trader: It is relatively simple to set up as a sole trader but if your business fails, your personal assets could be used to pay your creditors. Your main legal obligation is that you must register as a self-employed person with the Revenue Commissioners (see 'Tax and PRSI' below). If you wish to use a business name you must register your business name with the Companies Registration Office.
Partnership: This is where 2 or more people agree to run a business in partnership with each other. The partnership agreement should be drawn up by a solicitor. The partners are jointly responsible for running the business and if it fails all partners are jointly responsible for the debt.
Limited company: If you set up your business as a limited company, the business is a separate legal entity. If the company gets into debt, the creditors generally only have a claim on the assets of the company. The company must be registered with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) and the company reports and accounts must be returned to the CRO each year.
There is more information about these different structures on the CRO website. You can register your business name and file company returns online with the CRO using CORE (Companies Online Registration Environment).