FAQs: How to do biz in main­land

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 13 Business - By REN XIAOJIN renx­i­ao­jin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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