Business Visa for China – The Complete Guide

Business Visa for ChinaThe old commercial visa (F visa), now called M visa

The business visa (or M visa) is issued to those coming to China Mainland for commercial activity.

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If you are interested in another type of visa, below you will find a list of our guides:

What is required to obtain an M visa?

To obtain an M visa you will need:

  1. Original passport valid for at least six months
  2. Two photos 4.5cm*3.5cm
  3. Invitation letter from a trade fair such as Canton Fair or from a Chinese firm (in the event that you get your visa through a Chinese agency, it’s possible that they will be the ones to procure the letter for you)
  4. A copy of the Chinese firm’s business license
  5. A business card with your company’s name and contact information (telephone, email, etc)

The invitation letter should contain your information:

  1. Your personal data: Name, birthdate, etc.
  2. Details about your trip: Purpose of your visit, dates of arrival and departure, where you will be visiting, etc.
  3. Information about the Chinese firm that granted you the invitation letter
  4. Signature of legal representative of the Chinese entity and official seal.

If you intend to apply for a visa in Hong Kong that permits you to stay in China for six months or more, you will also need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Your passport must contain at least two Chinese visas issued outside of Chinese territory (those visas have a green background instead of blue or gray)
  2. Among your last three Chinese visas, one of them must have been issued in your country

What are the requirements to obtain an electronic visa (business e-visa)?

The electronic visa or e-business visa can only be applied for if you are entering China through Shanghai.

To apply for it, you will need the following documentation:

  1. Passport (copies of all pages, including the blank page and the cover)
  2. Flight ticket
  3. Hotel reservation for all the nights you will spend in China
  4. Passport photo
  5. Invitation letter

The e-business visa, once issued, must be used within a maximum period of 30 days.

Where can I apply for an M visa?

Generally speaking, you should apply at the CVASC or at the Chinese Consulate in your own country (here you’ll find a complete list), especially when it comes down to work and student visas.

If you are going to enter through Shanghai, you can easily apply for it online through this page

Alternatively, you can use an agency to get your Chinese Visa. This will have a supplementary cost, but it may still be cheaper than the cost of the trip to the nearest CVASC or Chinese Consulate.

In this case, you’ll have to send your passport (and other necessary documents) to the agency and they will handle everything. To apply for a visa service through an agency you can use the form above on the right.

At the moment we recommend Visa HQ, a reputable agency that charges 79 USD for its Chinese Visa service. Click here to learn more!

The other option, which is frequently used by those who are already in Asia, is to apply for the visa in Hong Kong.

How long is an M visa good for, and how many entries can I get?

The M visa has a duration of a year maximum and can be extended another 180 days in China. Moreover, the M visa allows for 1, 2 or multiple entries. In the latter scenario, you can enter and exit China as much as you please for the length of your visa. Last we heard, at the moment the M visa with a validity of more than 90 days can only be applied for in Hong Kong (and there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get it as visas are decided upon on a case by case basis).

American citizens can also apply for a 10 years multi entry M visa (maximum 60 day for each stay).

Can I renew my M visa in China?

Yes, you can renew your M visa up to a maximum of 180 days without leaving China. In this case you should turn to an agency such as Meshing Consultancy Services Co., Ltd., located in Shanghai, on Shan Road 101, room 410.

How much does an M visa cost?

The price may vary from 30 to almost 200 USD according to your nationality, the type of visa and the number of entries.

For Europeans, it’s usually cheaper, while Americans are often required to pay more than 100 USD.

If instead, you apply for the visa in Hong Kong the cost depends on the length of stay (from 450 to 1,550 Hong Kong Dollars). Click here to find out the details.

The cost of the Business eVisa is around 250 USD (240 USD through this link)

How do I read an M visa?

  1. Category: M
  2. Entries: 1, 2 or M ( “M” multiple entries)
  3. Enter Before: XX-XX-XXXX (the visa’s expiration date)
  4. Duration of each stay: XX days after entry
  5. Issue date: XX-XX-XXXX (date the visa was issued)

How can one get an M visa on arrival at Shanghai Airport?

IMPORTANT: The issuance of this type of visa is temporarily suspended

This type of visa, which is good for 30 days, is for those who are forced to enter China due to an emergency situation but, for some reason, do not possess a visa. Here are the most common “emergency situations”: needing to sign a business contract, needing to carry out an inspection regarding merchandise acquired from China, needing to repair a machine, or participate in a trade fair.

Even in this case you should have an invitation letter that serves to confirm the emergency situation that justifies your entry into China. In order to issue an invitation letter with the purpose of obtaining an M visa on arrival, the company doing the inviting must have at least a million Yuan in capital and be registered in one of the following provinces: Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui or Guangdong.

In addition, you can only obtain this type of visa if you land at either Shanghai Pudong or Shanghai Hongqiao airport. To conclude, if you hold a French or American passport you cannot apply for this type of visa.

How can one get a 5 day visa on arrival at the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen?

IMPORTANT: The issuance of this type of visa is temporarily suspended

If you land in Hong Kong and have a European, American, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand passport, you can immediately head to the Chinese border and apply for a 5 day visa which will be issued right then and there (to apply all you’ll need is your passport and 150 HKD).

This visa is only valid for the special economic zone of  Shenzhen, namely the cities of  Shenzhen, Shekou and the factories dispersed throughout the surrounding countryside.

The visa is called “Tourist visa to Shenzhen Special Economic Zone” so, technically, it’s a tourist visa. However it is also convenient for those who come to Shenzhen, the world capital of electronics, for business purposes.

If instead you’re in Macau you can apply for a similar visa for the Zhuhai area (in this case for a length of three days).

Can I work in China with an M visa?

If you are paid by a foreign company and will be working in China for less than three months, then an M visa will be sufficient.

But if you’re paid by a Chinese company or you’re paid by a foreign firm but will be working in China for over three months, then you will need a work visa (called a Z visa).

Photo Credits: Creative Commons License china visa -it’s here! by HI TRICIA! 王 圣 捷

151 thoughts on “Business Visa for China – The Complete Guide”

  1. Hello there,

    I‘m a German citizen studying in Shanghai, so I got lot of X-Visas in my passport. Recently, I would like to apply for M visa to go back to China and got the PU letter from a company in Shanghai already. But I‘m scared that the Chinese Embassy may deny my application, if I don’t fill the application correctly, because first of all I‘m a student and second of all I don’t have any work experience in a (trade) company or something. I’m curious, is there a high chance that I will be rejected?

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the tone of knowledge you share on this website! I am a Polish citizen staying in China on a double entry, 30 days maximum duration of stay, M visa. It is my first M visa, but I have quite a few student visas in my passport (it’s practically Chinese visas only, from page one to almost the last ;) ). I am planning on applying for a new M visa and considering Hong Kong and Taipei. Would you say that one is better than the other, or the process should be equally smooth in both places? The other question is my chances for multiple entry, one-year visa. Is it really that rare to get one-year M visa and if so, what are the ways to improve my chances to get one? I am working in education, representing a foreign company providing training in cultural institutions, but occasionally help other companies in contact with business partners in China. In general, I work on various projects and therefore I was thinking that maybe providing a sort of work itinerary in the letter from the inviting company would be a good idea?

    Would appreciate some thoughts!

    1. You don’t need to provide any details of any work with your M visa application form. The invitation letter should include arrival date and departure date and I suggest you pick dates no more than 90 days apart because that is the common maximum stay on an M visa. If you apply in Hong Kong you will not get more than 30 days. Your home country or country of residence are always the best locations to apply from.

  3. Is there a limit on the number of M visas you can be granted in a given time period?

    In the last 2 year or less, I have been granted (and in the following order), 1x single entry (30 day), 1x single entry (15 days), 2x multiple entry (6 months), and 1x single entry (30 day) visa.

    Out of the past 12 months, I’ve been staying in China for roughly 10 months in total. Last time, I applied for a 1 year M visa but was only given a single-entry 30-day visa.

    I’m a Swedish citizen but I’ve applied for visas in the Philippines (where I used to reside).

    I have business interests in China but I do not by definition work in China, so an M visa has always been my to-go choice as I travel frequently between China and HK.

    Given my track record of being given several M visas in a short period of time, would perhaps my chances of successfully getting another 6-12 month visa be higher if I provide a more detailed itinery in the application form?

    1. I think it will be difficult for you to get a one year visa. They may think that you are working/living in China instead of doing commercial or trade activities.

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