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. I have a valid M visa in a Canadian passport. I have recently renewed my passport.

    My understanding is that the M visa is still valid (in the old passport), as long as all the information is the same (i.e. birthdate, name, citizenship). Can you confirm?

  2. Joshua Kain Neal

    How does one go about getting an M visa when self employed in the home country. My business depends on me getting a visa to visit clients in China and I haven’t created a company yet. What do I put on the invitation letter the company in China will write for me in this case?

    1. I dont understand, if you need to issue business invitation letters yourself, then you need a company in China

  3. Bro,I am an Indian Currently I have M-Visa … I want convert to Z-visa …can you to tell.. how to do it ???

  4. Hi there Furio,

    I currently am an American holding a 10 year M Visa, (business visa), and do consultation work with a company in Guangzhou that issued my original invitation letter. Another company is also interested in doing business with me, this company is located in Shenzhen. My question for you: can I work with multiple companies, if I continue working with the original company that issued my invitation? Another question–because I am continuously doing business with the original, and will now do business with the second one, (and of course I do leave and travel quite often outside of China), I want to rent an apartment in the province that I can use for when I am going back and forth–I’m assuming this is okay as well? Your advice and know-how is much appreciated!

    1. Hello,

      I think there is no pb for the apartment in the sense that I never heard that you can’t rent an apartment with a M visa.

      As for the other question, I’m not sure… For the Z visa I know for sure that you can only work for the company that sponsored your visa. And the name of the company is on the resident permit. So if you swtich job, you need to apply for a new resident permit.

      However I never heard about something similar for the M visa; also, the M visa doesn’t have the name of the sponsoring company. So, it could be fine. Unfortunately I can’t confirm this point because we have no direct experience with this!

  5. Hello Mr. Furio, I am a Philippine Passport holder and will be going to Hongkong for a vacation. I was thinking of visiting the Windows of the World which is in Shenzen, China. Do I still need to apply for a Chinese VISA?

    1. You can exploit the visa on arrival, if you stay in Shenzhen less than 5 days. It’s all explained in this article!

  6. Hi Mr.Furio,I’ve M visa(double entry/60 days)recently exited and entered again China.I’ve 55 days left in my visa after that I need to apply for a new question is..Is it possible to change my M visa to student visa?how? Or can I extend my M visa without leaving China?

    1. Yes, it’s possible, provided that you find a school that hire you and helps you with the documentation.

      Same for extending the M visa, it’s certainly possible, provided you find the way (usually the fastest way in this case is through an agency in your city).

  7. Hello, I have a M VISA 10 years, 60 days stay, multiple entry. I am being paid by a foreign company to work at a Chinese company. I am technically here 3 months, back to my country of origin for 1 month, then back to China for 3 and so on… Now my issue is that before the 60th days are over, I need to leave China, cross over to HK, then spend the night and cross back in. Will this be a problem down the road? I have done it once now, seem to be no issues…but still…I was worried when crossing back in let’s say. What’s you take on this? Thank you!

    1. Hello Philip, multiple entry means that you can go in and out as long as you want, just remember to get out every 60 days.

      If the information you provided here are correct, I dont think you shall have issues (although of course we cant guarantee it)

  8. I have a 10-year, multiple entry visa, which I acquired for my work. I am no longer with that company and would like to travel to China for vacation. Will this business visa allow me to perform my travel for pleasure, or is it ‘business only?’

    1. Technically speaking, your visa shall only be valid as long as your work with the company that provided you the visa and you go to China for business purposes.

  9. I will be applying for an M Visa that will be issued by a company in Henan province, however I will need to spend much of my time in Beijing and Shanghai. Am I able to register for a housing permit in Beijing? or will I have to apply for one in the province that the company that has provided the 邀请函 is located?

  10. I was working for a company in shanghai and had the Z Visa that become a Temporary Residence Permit. It is still valid and I am switching it to an M visa today. Is there anything I have to do when I get back to shanghai about the police station and my apartment?

    1. Hello Coby,

      if you are already registered at the police station, you may not need to do anything. I’d still go to the local PSB and explain to them the situation, just in case!

  11. I’m applying for an M visa for a trade show, but I want to bring my spouse with me. Do they need a separate L visa, or is there some sort of provision for a spouse with the M visa? Neither of us are Chinese nationals, and we both have US passports.

  12. Hello!

    I am currently working in Dongguan, Guangdong. I just started 1 week ago, and I came here on Business visa, issued in Finland for 30 days. My question is, am I eligible to apply for a M visa for 6 or 12 months in Hong Kong? I there something else required than the invitation letter, passport and photo?


  13. Hey, I am applying for a business visa for the first time. I will be applying in Hong Kong. Is it possible for me to apply for a six month single entry visa? What are the requirements for a 6-month M visa compared to a 3 month M visa?

  14. hi!

    I had a 30 days single entry business visa before and i’m planning to renew it. Just wanted to know what the requirements are for m visa renewal? And, do you think i have a high possibility of getting 60 or 90 day stay? Single or Double entry?


    Btw, i’m a filipino.

    1. Hi! Were you able to have your visa extended? How long was the processing time? Appreciate your feedback as I need to get my M visa extended as well and a Filipino too!

  15. So I am applying for a 1 year Business visa in China. I will apply at the Chinese Consulate in Houston, Texas. Do you know if they would allow a 1 year visa, with multiple re entry, and a 90 day stay? I’ve also never had a Chinese Visa before. Would it be possible for me to be granted this? The company inviting said they weren’t sure and it depended on the consulate.

    1. Amuro, it really depend on the consulate and the situation, but the last news is that there’s no more 90 day multiple entry business VISA, only 30 day stay multiple-entry VISA.

  16. Hello there, Mr. Furio,

    I am a holder of Czech Republic passport, I need to apply for a M visa, half-year, multientry, every entry 60 days. Company I will be working for will provide all the necessary materials. I contacted Everbright, which you recommend in one of your posts and they told me, that it is not possible, the maximum for M is a double entry, every entry only 30 days. Any recommendations? Any suggestions?

    1. Hello Jan, if in Hong Kong at the moment for your passport is not possible to get more than a 60 days M Visa, I don’t have any further recommendations. If you are still in Europe you can ask at the Chinese Consular office in your country whether they can provide a longer visa.

  17. If I get work visa in one province, can I work in entire china or only in one particular province or one particular company? Which one is true? Thanks in advance.

    1. You can legally work only for the company that requires your VISA. If you change job, you shall change resident permit too

    2. Hello,
      Currently I am in possess of a M visa that is still valid for another 2.5 months of stay in China (I am currently in Shenzhen).

      I plan to start Chinese Course at the university, I am sure they will provide me with the papers to apply for student visa, which I guess it should be valid for 1 year. Hope so.

      My question is: Can I wait until the end of my permitted stay of the M visa and just then go to HK to apply for Student visa?

      Then I can use up all the time available for my M visa.

      Thanks for ur help!


      1. Hello Julian,

        technically speaking you shall apply for an X1 Visa before start the courses at the University, if you want to stay in China a year with a Student VISA.

  18. Came here from a link via This post says the M visa is only good for a year with 180 extension, I think a few months ago China made available the 10 year business visa.

    This is a good post, thank you for the information.

    1. I had heard about the 10 year visa as well, and I’m interested in it— but what’s not clear whether or not you can get 90-day duration stays, or if the longest is only 30 days

      1. You can actually only get 90 day stay for the 2 year business visa. The 10 year max is 60 days per stay. This is for US citizens.

        1. Hi guys, yes, I heard the say: 60 days per stay… another thing I forgot. For now the 10 years business VISA is open only to American citizens

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