Ireland: the best regulated forex brokers

Ireland is an island nation that is home to 5 million citizens and boasts GDP of $395 million as of 2019. Ireland's economic health depends greatly on the tourism, industrial and agricultural sectors. It is one of Europe's fastest growing economies, especially as many American companies have set up their European operations there (due to favourable taxation policy). Ireland's main exports are medical products, IT equipment and chemistry-based products.

The nation's capital - Dublin - is home to the national Stock Exchange: Euronext Dublin. Considered the world's 5th largest exchange in terms of market capitalization, this body was when several exchanges (London, Dublin, Paris, Lisbon and Brussels) merged together in 2019.

Ireland gave up the Irish pound in 2003, when it switched to the EUR. In 2019, the EUR replaced the USD in terms of the currency with the most widespread use and overall value.

Irish trading regulation

In addition to stocks, indices and bonds, Ireland's traders can also legally trade currencies and CFDs (contract for difference). The country boasts a large number of brokerages (and non-financial companies) due to its favourable fiscal environment. It's no wonder that companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and Google base their European operations there.

In Ireland, forex trading is regulated by the same rules that govern the other European nations. They are MiFID and MiFIR (they are jointly referred to as the MiFID II legislation).

MiFID I (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) and the more recent MiFID II aim to streamline the rules overseeing the trading of assets across Europe. Forex brokers therefore have to comply with MiFID II, and so do banks and trading advisers.

One of the benefits of MiFID is that a broker only needs to be authorised in one EU member state in order to be able to offer trading services in the other member states. That explains why many brokerage firms operating in Ireland are licenced by London's FCA authority or by Cyprus' CySEC agency.

MiFID's launch was followed by the creation of the ESMA (EU Finance Market Authority). Based in France, it aims to streamline finance throught Europe. It also seeks to protect traders by ensuring that forex brokers have a minimum of cash reserves and offer clear pricing.

ESMA also requires that forex brokers hold traders' funds in separate accounts so that they are protected in the event the brokerage firm goes bankrupt. Traders are also protected from having a negative trading account balance, so that they don't lose more than what they started trading with.

Ireland's Central Bank regulates the local market and it also runs the ICS (a trader compensation system that protects investors if their brokerage firm goes bankrupt).

Ireland's traders can receive up to €25,000 payment if their forex broker goes under. But they are not elibigle for any protection or compensation if their losses are due to poor trading decisions.

Licenced brokerage firms must report and display the number of traders that are un-profitable (via a disclaimer). Also, these companies shouldn't let inexperienced traders access high leverage as this could have an averse effect on their trading account.

UK brokerRegulationTrading platformsOfficial website
FCA, ASIC, CySECMetaTrader 5Admiral Markets website
ASIC, CBFSAI, FRSA, B.V.I FSC, FSCA, FSA.JPMetaTrader 4AvaTrade website
FCA, ASIC, DFSAMetaTrader 4 + 5
cTrader
Pepperstone website
CySEC, ASIC, IFSCMetaTrader 4 + 5XM website
FCA: United Kingdom, ASIC: Australia, CySEC: Cyprus, DFSA: Dubaï, FSA: Seychelles, FSA.JP: Japan, FSCA: South Africa, IFSC: Belize
CFD trading comes with a high risk of losing money, it is therefore not suitable for all investors. Between 74-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs.

Ireland's regulatory bodies

Currency trading in Ireland is overseen by the CBFSAI (Ireland Central Banking and Financial Service Authority). A long-standing entity, it regulates the national currency there (the Pound and now the Euro).

Among its missions: making sure that prices remain stable, regulating banking operations and protecting traders. Forex brokerage firms that wish to market their services to Irish residents need to either obtain a licence there or in one of the other EU countries.

The CBFSAI's online site lists the forex brokerage firms that are both approved and regulated. If you're looking to ensure that a brokerage firm is trustworthy, you should indeed make sure they are on this list.

Recently, the CBFSAI chose to limit traders' risk after some of them reported negative account balances due to poor transaction decisions. A 2015 survey found that a majority of clients in Ireland lost around 7,000 euros on the forex market. In Cyprus, the same results were found amongst traders of locally-licended brokers.

300k trading accounts of 19 forex brokers were studied in 2018. It was discovered that three-fourths of those traders lost money. The same was found to be true in other European countries where forex trading is popular.

Following this, the Irish Central Bank declared that forex trading is far too risky for regular traders. It decided to reduce the leverage levels that traders can use, and this is fully in line with ESMA's rules. Up until now, any investor could trade with leverage of up to 500:1!

As of now, though, authorised brokerage firms have limited leverage to 30:1 on the forex. Of course, professional traders who qualify are able to access far higher leverage.

For tradable assets that bear a greater risk, leverage can be even lower than 30:1. That of precious metals, and non-major forex pairs for example is lower than 10:1. And that of cryptos is 2:1 while shares in publicly listed companies can be no higher than 10:1.

Opening an Irish forex trading account

Traders in Ireland enjoy a broad range of choices as far as funding their account (and withdrawing their profits).

The most popular account-funding method among Irish traders is a standard credit or debit card. Traders' banks have added both encryption and phone verification in order to secure the account funding process.

Some clients in Ireland, who prefer not to resort to their credit cards, prefer the e-wallet alternative. There are several reputable providers such as Neteller, WebMoney and Skrill that enable you to conduct trading-account transactions in complete privacy.

Many traders simply opt for a wire transfer through their bank. However, this money transfer method can take between 3 to 4 days.

Also, traders in Ireland should open accounts in euros in order to avoid currency conversion fees. Also, forex brokers have a minimum initial-deposit fee, so keep this parameter in mind. They typically range from 250-1,000€, and some brokers even feature mini-accounts where you can open an account with as little as 20€.

Forex trading platforms used by Irish traders

Forex brokers in Ireland offer a variety of ways to trade, notably via tablet devices, telephones and traditional desk computers/laptops. In addition, they typically use easy-to-learn and easy-to-use software.

Although some brokerage firms have created their own software suite, most of them offer either MT4 or MT5 (MT being Metatrader), which are the most commonly used trading platforms.

If you're only planning on trading the forex, MT4 is likely all you'll need. If, however, you want to trade shares, indices, commodities, etc. in addition to currencies, you would need the more recent MetaTrader 5. Both have the same features, though: candlestick charts, 9 different timespans as well as a variety of indicators you can use right on the charts (moving average, RSI, Bollinger Bands, etc.).

The cTrader trading platform is another frequently offered platform. cTrader separates itself from the others in that it allows traders to see the broker's order book (number of pending buy and sell orders), offering a distinct edge.

Some financial software developers sell their solutions to brokerage firms. ZuluTrade does this, for example. Their big achievement is that they enable traders to automatically copy the trades of more successful traders.

Irish traders have taken to mobile-device trading

As of 2020, nearly 4 million people in Ireland use smartphones and other internet connected portable devices.

Ireland's traders haven't been neglected by their brokers, as such pretty much each brokerage firm there offers a mobile version of their trading platform. In addition, smartphone traders benefit from all the same features that they use on their desktop platforms: the use of technical indicators, price alerts and access to multiple asset classes beyond currency pairs (precious metals, oil, indexes, shares in companies, etc.).

Better yet, the experience on mobile is the same as on the computer, traders having a wide choice of financial instruments and markets for the spot forex, contracts for difference, indices, stocks and commodities.

Although there are a few broker-specific applications out there, most firms offer the mobile versions of either MT4 or MT5. This ensures that traders never miss a crucial trading opportunity when they're on the go - especially during major monthly economic news announcements.

Common questions

1. Are binary option trades still authorised in Ireland?
Binary option trading has been banned recently - and rightly so as it is similar to gambling and not considered sound investing.

2. How low are forex spreads in Ireland?
Traders in Ireland have the choice between either floating spreads or fixed ones, depending on the brokerage firms they're considering. Most of their websites will list average spreads or the spread ranges you can expect, enabling you to compare. Here is broker comparison featuring spreads near the bottom of the page.

3. Do brokers offer demo accounts in Ireland?
In additional to basic course materials and tutorial pages, most brokerage firms offer free demo accounts, which you can use to test your trading strategy before trading with your actual capital.

4. Can I trade the forex all week long?
In theory, you could, BUT most brokers don't offer trading on Saturdays or Sundays as the interbank market doesn't offer as much liquidity. However, the forex market is great for new traders who want to trade on an occasional basis and for pros who want to trade all week long.

5. How do I know if a brokerage firm is licenced in Ireland?
Traders who want to know if a broker is approved in Ireland can consult the Central Bank's site. It features a list of licenced brokers as well as the types of assets they can legally trade with them.

Recommended forex brokers for Irish residents:

UK brokerRegulationTrading platformsOfficial website
FCA, ASIC, CySECMetaTrader 5Admiral Markets website
ASIC, CBFSAI, FRSA, B.V.I FSC, FSCA, FSA.JPMetaTrader 4AvaTrade website
FCA, ASIC, DFSAMetaTrader 4 + 5
cTrader
Pepperstone website
CySEC, ASIC, IFSCMetaTrader 4 + 5XM website
FCA: United Kingdom, ASIC: Australia, CySEC: Cyprus, DFSA: Dubaï, FSA: Seychelles, FSA.JP: Japan, FSCA: South Africa, IFSC: Belize
CFD trading comes with a high risk of losing money, it is therefore not suitable for all investors. Between 74-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs.