FAQs: How to do biz in mainland
As a foreign national now living in China, I’ve a potential business idea that I think would benefit China. I’ve even shortlisted potential investors. What do I need to do next?
If you have graduated from a Chinese university, you can apply for an entrepreneur visa with letters of support for your application (in the prescribed certificate format) from your financiers, university, startup incubator or the industrial park you are based in, along with a copy of your viable business plan.
The university concerned also provides detailed information on the local laws and regulations. You can consult your university career office for more specific guidance.
What are the key government policies in China that benefit enterprising expatriates with entrepreneurial ambitions?
The new policy announced this year grants a two- to five-year visa for fresh Chinese university graduates from other countries with viable business plans or demonstrable entrepreneurial potential.
Startup owners in certain zones such as Zhongguancun in Beijing, and free trade zones or FTZs in Guangdong and Shanghai can also benefit from favorable green card policy.
For example, those with startups in such areas can apply for a permanent resident card after achieving 70 points in China’s pointbased visa system. More information on the system can be found at http:// www.safea.gov.cn.
Are the local/provincial government policy and central government policy to encourage foreigners to set up startups in China much different?
Foreign students in China usually need two years of work experience before they can work in China. But in cities like Shanghai, you can apply for entrepreneur visa if you have graduated from a Chinese university, produce a financial guarantee and demonstrate a viable business plan.
When your application is approved, an S2 visa valid for up to six months will be issued. If you have an entrepreneur certificate from a municipal industry park or a recognized startup incubator, you can apply to extend your stay by up to two years. That time will be counted as equivalent to two years of work experience.
There is not much difference in government policy in terms of sectors or industries, but you will be more likely to receive an entrepreneur visa if your business plan or startup is related to your academic background.
Typically, how long does it take for me to set up a startup in China and begin operations?
It usually requires one to three working days to register a new company with the Administration of Industry of Commerce. This can also be done online as well. More information is available at http://www.saic.gov.cn. Application submission is followed up by a five- to 15-day verification process. Then, one to two days are needed to obtain the official company stamp and the certificate of registration.
However, before a startup can launch its operations, you will need to set up a bank account in the company’s name, register the firm with the local tax bureau and open your social welfare account. You will need to bring your company stamp, certificate and personal identification document for tax registration. It can be obtained within a day, but can vary according to the tax bureau. All in all, A-Z will likely take 20-25 working days, which is considered much quicker than the current situation in many other countries.
Where can I find more detailed information on how an expatriate could set up a startup in China, and on financial and other incentives, regulatory framework, relevant laws, and taxes?
Please visit China Consular Affairs’ website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at www.visaforchina.org. There are many useful online resources that offer comprehensive information. We recommend these: http://www.visaforchina.com; http://www.pathtochina.com. As for offline resources, you may want to visit your university, the industrial park or startup incubators for a range of information.