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.

Get your Business eVisa for Shanghai now and enjoy a 5% exclusive discount!

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

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

  1. Im searching the cheapest way to stay in China im between student visa, M visa and F visa. What do you recommend ? Im from Mexico , any suggestion. Thanks

    1. Hello Isabel,

      I’m not sure what to recommend as there are too many variables. For instance, if you get a student visa, it also means that you are paying for a school tuition, and I can’t forecast the costs

  2. Hi Furio,
    I am a Polish passport holder and I am on M (1 year, multi, 60 days each stay) visa which will expire soon. I need another M visa for 4 entries, 30 days each (I do have invitation from Chinese company but I do not have “duly authorized” letter) which means I can apply for M visa allowing me to enter 2 times, 30 days each. However I am going to try my luck and apply for M visa, multi, for 6 months in Kuala Lumpur where I travel soon. My question is: if I apply for muti entrance visa can they simply reject my visa application (and give nothing) or would they simply give me what they can (concidering my nationality) which is 2 entries, 30 days each? Thanks for answering.

    1. Both situations can happen, but in our experience normally they will give you the type of visa they consider right or, simply, they won’t let you to apply. Notice that they could reject your application because you aren’t a Malaysian resident.

  3. Leeory from Germany

    Hey man,
    great article you got there!
    I was wondering if you might have a thought on my situation or who I could talk to.
    I’ve been living in China for almost 7 years now, always doing the HK trip to get either a 1year business or tourist visa, 90days stay multiple entry.. but they don’t do that anymore. So now i’m on my last visa which expired in September and i’m using my last 90days until November 25th. The agency in HK (fbt) said that the embassy probably wont give me another 1months tourist or business visa, max 14days or nothing, but i might get lucky with an S2 (friend visist) visa.
    I found a company though (mobile) that wants to hire me and provide all the needed papers to get a working visa, but I think i dont actually qualify for a Z visa because I dont have a bachelor degree.. is there any other way to get another 1 year visa?
    And is it true that if you get married you can easily get a 1 year multiple stay visa and it will be expanded to a 2 year visa later?

    Thanks for your time,

    1. Hi Leeroy,

      I agree with FBT: according to what we hear and know, it will be increasingly difficult for you to keep staying in China with visa runs (ie. random tourist / business visa).

      A Z visa would solve the situation, however as you said, you aren’t sure you qualify. As for getting married: if you get married with a Chinese girl you can get a Q1 visa. However, you can’t legally work under this visa.

    2. Hi Leeroy, what happened with your situation in the end? Did you manage to get another visa?

      When you said that the agency in HK won’t give you another visa, is that because they stopped issuing them to everyone or just to you because you were doing visa runs?

      I am hopefully coming to work in China in 6 months on a 5 year business visa, but I don’t want to have the visa revoked because of doing visa runs.

      Also do you know if it’s possible to rent an apartment or rent a room in an apartment using a business visa and then registering with the police?



  4. Hello,
    is the M visa sufficient for the person who wants to work in China for a chinese company for a 1 year? Or should one go for a Z visa instead?
    Thanks in advance.

  5. Hello Furio, I have the multiple entry visa (30 stay each time) valid till Dec end But I heard that you can stay only maximum 90 days in a calendar year. Is that true ?
    This is my fourth visit to china and this time I will complete 90 days stay in china. Can you please update me, whether I am still eligible to come to China for another 30 days ?

    1. It’s better you confirm this information with your Chinese embassy. This is true for tourist visas, I’m not sure about business visa

  6. Hello Furio, are there any restrictions on what sort of work may be performed on an M visa for those coming over for less than 90 days, and who are paid by an overseas firm?
    I have anecdotally heard that only certain activities – bid supervision, machine installation etc are allowed; or that only business meetings and ‘non-productive work’ is allowed, but have not been able to confirm or deny this.

  7. Hello, thank you for your detailed article.

    I am a Singaporean currently on a 90day single-entry M visa issued from Singapore. I am paid and hired by a Singapore fashion company to train/oversee production here in Guangzhou (by an external manufacturer that works together with, but is not a part of, the Singapore company). My job scope requires me to travel out to places like Hong Kong and back to Singapore every so often which is why a single-entry visa is hindering. The intended duration of my outpost tenure here in Guangzhou is also about a year (far longer than my current visa duration, to accomodate 2 fashion seasons, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter).

    The ideal situation in my opinion seems to be a 1year multiple-entry M visa; but from what I have read here and elsewhere is that no one ever seems to get that? What I would like is your opinion on getting a year long M visa and maybe even ways I could increase my odds of being accepted for one (i.e. through itinerary, invitation letter phrasing, etc.). Also, if in the case my application is rejected/given a shorter duration & entry scheme, what alternatives are there? Are there also options on extending my visa to also add entries? Lastly, from your experience, would you say it is less likely I would get approved for another M visa/extension, if I have been given one before? (i.e. the more I apply and get accepted, the less likely I would consecutively be awarded another same visa)

    On a side note, I understand that in regards to my intended 1-year duration, it would be also appropriate to perhaps get a Z visa, but I am not exactly working for any Chinese company? In addition, a Z visa is apparently very complicated and could too long (especially for small fashion companies).

    1. Hello David,

      to get a Z visa you would need to be directly hired by the Chinese company. So, an M visa looks more appropriate.

      It’s possible to get a 1 year M visa multi-entry, although not easy. In order to increase your chance, get an invitation letter from the Chinese company, where it’s clearly stated why you need a yearly visa.

      Also, try to talk with the agency we recommend in this article, maybe they can help (I don’t know, to be honest)

  8. Hi,
    First thank you for your useful article.
    I am in an internship in Beijing, I came from France with a tourist visa and my company helped me applying in the office in Beijing for a M visa single entry for the next 5 months. I was wondering if I get my new visa with an entry (1) then should it mean that I can leave the country and enter back in China once?

    Because I will get the new visa (if everything is okay) next friday and I wanted to know if I can leave the country during the october holidays and come back without asking a new visa.

    1. Exactly, you can not leave China, or the visa expires.

      You have to check if the visa is multi-entry or not, and the maximum period of each stay

  9. Hi, I was in China pass 90 days on my M visa. I got offer to study in China for next half year. Study starts within 2 weeks. Is is valid to ask for study visa, if I have valid M visa in my passport? Will be still valid my M visa after study?

    1. You can ask for a student visa. However, as far as I know, you can’t have two valid visas at the same time, so your M visa will become invalid

  10. Chim-Amaka Omeme

    Hi. I’ll be traveling with an M visa this October for the canton fair with my 8months old baby. Do I need to get a visa for him also or does mine cover for the both of us?

  11. Hi Furio,
    I am writing on behalf of my girlfriend. She was offered a business visa and said that it’s a one year business visa, lasting for 60 days each stay. BUT, that she should leave the country every 60 days for 30 days and then apply for a new one and come back. Personally, I have never heard of that case, that you should be out of the mainland for 30 days before you are allowed to come back. So, basically it says: 60 days in China, 30 days out of China and then back again.

    All of my friends who are on business visa here have to leave every 3 months and come back the same day if they please. But they are British, American and NZ so I am curious whether it depends the country you come from (she’s an Italian).

    Thanks in advance,

  12. My Company is based on singapore . They have given work order to china company . I am staying in china supervising for company work in china with M type visa. Intially i got 1 month visa then renewed to 3 months without exiting again i renew for another 3 months without exiting . I get paid by my singapore company to my Indian bank account directly. . I read in your article it says , i can get paid less then 3 months but more than 3 months you need Z visa ? is it illegal what i am doing now ?

    1. Hi there,

      we aren’t qualified to give this sort of advice. If you have doubts, I suggest to talk with a visa agency in the Chinese city where you’re working.

      What we can say is that if you get paid abroad by a foreign company, usually an M visa shall work. However we don’t know if there is a time limit, after which an M visa doesn’t work anymore.

  13. What kind of Visa can I apply if I need to stay in China for 3 months?
    My current job is in Singapore, but need to stay in China to provide technical support to my branch office there.

    1. In this case I think you shall get a business visa (you shall be able to get a letter of invitation for your branch, if it’s a entity regularly registered in China)

      1. invitation says,validity of visa intended to apply 12 month,number of entries Many,longest stay 60 days…so is that good to apply for 12 month…as i said this is my first time applying for Chinese visa….or i ask my inviter to change it.????..what u says furio..

        1. Honestly, I have no idea.

          This is not something we can assess. If the invitation letter says that, I would try to apply. However, beforehand I suggest you to get in touch with the consular office or an agency, to see what they say

          1. Thank bro…yeah i will apply but before that as u said check with agency or somthing,just to make sure that i am on right direction…once again thanks man appreciated….

  14. Carlos Rodriguez

    I have a M VISA 10 years, 60 days stay, multiple entry. I am being paid by a foreign company to manage & support equipment installation and provide guidance on its use by same company.
    I was told that immigration laws have changed, even using multiple entries to avoid overstay, I cannot be in China more than 90 days per year.
    Is this correct? Thank you

    1. Hello Carlos,

      we can’t confirm this. I suggest you to ask to the PSB or the consular office where you got your visa

  15. I bought a laser engraver from Zhengzhou Henan Province and they have offered to train me
    1 day in their factory to use the machine i bought in Australia. I will only be in China for 4 days only 6 hours of which will be training do I need a M visa or a tourist Visa ?

  16. Hi there,

    I have a work secondment in China for three months in China but the visa I got given was a 2 entry 30 day (60 days in total) visa. Can I renew the visa while I’m in China?

        1. Hi,

          we can’t provide these details, as they change case by case. I suggest you to get in touch with the consular office / agency where you wish to apply

  17. Hi I wish to open a restaurant in China. I have a Chinese business partner who will have the company in his name. Would I still need a business visa or an inbestirs visa? Thanks

  18. Hi Furio,

    I have had two China M visas in the past two years. I am now applying for a one year multiple entry M visa. Is it possible for me to apply for 60 day duration? If the embassy does not grant me 60 days duration, do they decline my application, or do they grant 30 days?
    I am applying from South Africa.

    Thanks for your help,


    1. Hi Hamish,

      you can certainly apply. I’ve heard of people that applied for 60 days and got 60 days; I also heard of people that applied for 60 and got 30. Finally, I heard of people that got no visa!

      It really comes down to your situation, there is not a general rule

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