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

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

  1. Hello, thank you for the article.
    I’m an English teacher from Morocco, I’ve been hired by a school in Guilin, China. They provide me a M Visa, they mentioned in an article of the contract that if I’ve been arrested by the police, they will pay for the penalty.
    Is that okey? If they pay the penalty, I won’t be in troubles anymore with police or what?

    1. You can’t work with an M visa. The penalty may include deportation, the prohibition to enter to the country in the future, and other

  2. Hi! It’s Abdullah from Pakistan.
    Now i am in China.. And i want to sale my Pakistani goods.. Now i can’t do anything because i am student..which type of visa is suitable for me..I will skip my study..then.i will sale some product Pakistan..
    Waiting for your positive response..

  3. Hi,

    I urgently wanted to ask you these few questions, I hope you have time to reply me because it’s quite important.
    I started and finished my bachelor’s degree in China at the University of Nankai, in Tianjin, my graduation date is on June 27th in 2019.
    Currently I am in Italy, and my residence permit to stay in China(I had X1 visa) already expired, it expired on July 31st.
    Right now, one of the employers in Shanghai got interested in me, and he contacted me if I could work with them this September, I know that the Work Visa Z (c category) in Shanghai doesn’t require 2 years of job experience post-graduation, but I still wanted to know if it was possible to apply for this Z Visa while I am in my country.
    Is it possible to get Z Visa while I am in Italy even if my residence permit in China is expired?
    Is it possible to get the work permit(blue employment card) while I am in Italy?
    If the answers of my posed questions are no, then what kind of visa should I apply in order to stay legally for a short period of time in China in order to apply for the work permit, residence permit and Z Visa?

    I hope to receive your email as soon as possible,

    Best Regards,

    1. Jack if you want to work in China you need to apply a Z visa outside China, normally in your home country or the country of your residence (but maybe you can do it in Italy).
      It will be difficult that the company want to hire you manages to get you the foreign expert certificate if you don’t have working experience. Without this certificate you can’t apply for a Z visa.
      If you enter China with an other type of visa you can’t apply for a working resident permit, first you’ll have to go outside China to apply for the Z visa and reenter the country.

  4. hello
    can you please give me contact details of some good visa Agency in Shenzhen. i need help to get business visa and TE invitation .
    best regards

  5. Hello,
    I am British, currently in Beijing as a tourist on a tourist visa.
    Whilst i have been here I have been talking to the owner of a sports teaching company and I plan on carrying out some business negotiations with him and training some of his staff with a view to the staff maybe working for my company in the future.
    I would relay appreciate the answers, so thankyou very much in advance.
    My questions are…
    1. Can I apply for an M visa from china while I’m here on a tourist visa?
    2. My company in the U.K has only just been set up (its a new business) will this affect the application?
    3. He will not be paying me but i expect my expenses to be reimbursed is this possible on an M visa?

    1. Hello Steven,

      1. I heard it’s possible but you will most likely need a good visa agency in Beijing. The other solution is to have a quick flight to HK and apply there

      2. I don’t think your UK company really affects this application

      3. This is a gray zone and, although it looks reasonable to have a M visa here, we can’t provide more details, as each case is different

  6. Hi
    I’m from Iran and an agancy is going to get m visa for me for 90 days in China. It’s my first time to go to China. Now I wanna know is that possible to change that to z visa without coming back to Iran?is that necessary to go to police and immigration when I arrive there and last one I must land just in the city that my invitation letter is issued or no every city is ok??

    1. Hi there,

      we know about people that were able to get a visa Z in China however it seems that the procedure it’s different according to the city etc. Thus, we are unable to be more precise on this

  7. Hi there!
    I will be going to China for 6 months for business purposes (meetings, learning, knowledge sharing).
    I will still be employed within the same company in my home country in Sweden. I was suggested to get a M Visa (valid 6 months), but today I heard about the duration of stay (30 days) for the first time.

    If I enter the country, I need to leave after 30 days. Depending on if I get single or double entry, I can go right back or I need to apply for another M Visa in Hong Kong, did I get that right?
    I am not eligible for multiple entry, apparently.

    My question is however – how often can you reapply for this visa? If I get a single entry visa, this would require me reapplying 7 times in total, doesn’t it?
    I heard another option is to extend the visa within China (which you can do once), but as far as I understood you can only extend it by the previous period, which would be, yet again, only 30 days.

    1. Hello Sarah,

      yes, it’s possible that the first time they only give you 30 days. A possible option is to get a second visa in Hong Kong, and this time apply for a longer period (as it won’t be your first visa anymore). If you have a legit invitation letter etc, you stand good chances of getting it.

      I say “you stand good chances” as nobody really know the criterias, so nobody can tell you that “you will get the second visa for sure, in Hong Kong”

  8. Thanks for the article.

    Is the 3 months (90 days) accumulative for the year or per time? e.g If I enter China for 80 days, leave and then come back a month later for another 80 days, is that allowed?

  9. Hello, if I am paid by a foreign company and the assignment period will be Oct- March, is the M Visa compliant? It is 3 months/ calendar year.

    thank you.

  10. Hello Mr. Furio,

    Thank you for your wonderful article.
    I am currently holding a Student Visa which will expire at the end of September, but would like to change to an M Visa. I will be doing an unpaid internship at a foreign nonprofit based in Beijing for a full year. Is it better for me to apply for an M Visa or a Z Visa? Is it legal for me to do my unpaid internship work while under an L Visa?

    1. Hello Amy,

      with internships is always hard because there is not a specific visa. Another option is to get an F visa, if the internship is not paid!

  11. Hello, So i just received my M Visa while in Hong Kong. The thing is, I was given a double entry visa, (30 days) while having a TEMPORARY Canadian PASSPORT. I entered Shenzhen last night, and have already used up one entry, I’ll have to head back to Hong Kong on August 20th to collect my new Canadian Passport, could I apply for a new 1 year Multiple Entry Visa, while in HK?

    Do you believe that the fact I was holding a Temporary Passport affected my Visa Privileges?

  12. I’ve been to China TWICE in the last 6 months on a new passport (approx 1 year old) with an M VISA.

    I am planning to take a short trip to SZ (2-3 days) in early August, and to obtain a Shenzhen Visa on Arrival (VoA) at the SZ border from HK, and I was wondering if there is any chance I will run into any problems?

    Since I will book all my flights (to/from HK) and hotel tickets in advance it would be great with some kind of assurances that I will not risk getting rejected.

    The main reason I am even concerned is that I am NOT in possession of my old passport. However, as mentioned, I’ve been to China TWICE in the last 6 months. Does that count for something?

    Any input is MUCH appreciated – thank you!

      1. Totally understand – no problem. Do you happen to know if there’s a limit to how many M VISAs one can apply for in a given year? I might just apply for another one this time as well since the turnaround time for getting one is very fast (usually within 1-2 days only, with the express service).

        However, I am also going to apply for a 6 month, multi-entry M VISA very soon as well. In fact, to be exact, I will apply for one before August 30 as I have made plans to move to China (SZ) and to stay there for the rest of year, starting that date.

        Is the turnaround time for getting a 6 month, multi-entry VISA, generally the same as for a “normal” single entry (one month) one?

        1. Hello Alex,

          turnaround usually is the same for all visa (provided that you have all the required docs).

          There is no “hard” limit on the number of visas you can get in a year, let’s say that they decide case by case, but the problem is mostly for travel visa. If you are asking for an M visa and you have a legit invitation letter, I guess it’s easier

          1. That’s what I intent to apply for – an M visa. The third on during the last 6 months to be exact. I’ll give the 6 month, multi entry, visa a shot, and if it is declined, I’ll go with the 1 month option again.

            The problem is that I am going to need a 6 month visa by Aug 30 though.. Oh well, one thing at a time.

            Cheers and thanks again for your input!

          2. Hello Alex,

            you still got a month of time! The time needed to get the visa is independent of the visa duration. The important is to have all documents requested to get the visa!

  13. Thanks for your response.

    This is a reputable company, and I think the M visa is just to start things off. I believe they’ll initiate the Z pretty quickly (in fact, I think the M is only valid for a certain period). Are you saying that while on M, we cannot initiate banking/home rental?

    And, is the tourist visa best for me and child. Any change in your answer?

    1. You can’t legally work in China with an M visa, which is a business visa, not a working visa.

      I don’t know what visa is best for your child, it really depends on the situation!

    2. On an M visa could be difficult to get a bank account (not impossible) and many landlords won’t rent you a house.
      The only think I say is to get some garanties from the company in case there’s a problem with the visa and ask them who will pay for the trip to go back to apply for the Z visa.
      The best visa for moving to China would be and S1 visa but you need that your spouse to have a Z1 visa. The 10 year tourist visa is a provisional option to travel to China until you don’t move there

  14. My spouse will be employed in China starting July 2018. The employer suggests to start on an M visa and later convert to a Z visa.

    Our child and I are dependents. We would like the flexibility to travel as often as we want to visit until Jun 2019. After that, we will go as dependents on the Z visa.

    What is the the best visa option for me and our child from July 2018 to Jun 2019? We are all American citizens.

    1. Hi there
      1) Working on a M visa is illegal
      2) You can’t apply for a Z visa inside China, normally you should go back to your home country to apply
      3) You best option is to apply first for a 10 year tourist visa and when you want to move to live with your spouse apply for a S1 visa
      It’s true that deal with Z visa paperwork in China can help to speed up the process, but have some risks what happens if the work permit is denied? who is going to pay for the trip back home to get the Z visa? The M visa is to start to organize everything or they pretend that your spouse work illegally? Also notice that it will e really difficult to rent an apartment or get a bank account without a resident permit

  15. I will apply for an M Visa but do I need to provide my air ticket for my first flight like with the tourist visa?

    1. It’s possible, I suggest you to ask to the consular office where you intend to apply for your visa

  16. Hi Furio

    Is there an age limit for the student visa? I am a 35 year old citizen from Ireland and if like to study Chinese. Thank you.

  17. Hi,
    I got an invitation letter for paid internship in china for 120 days.Should I apply for M visa for 120 days, but you mentioned in your post it’s hard to get M visa for over 90 days. So, keeping that in mind should I apply for 90 days and can later extend it for 30 days in china itself. Please tell me what to do?By the way I am from India.

    1. If you got a legit invitation letter is possible that you will able to get a visa for 120 days. I’d advice you to at least attempt to apply for it

  18. Hi,
    I have M visa for 15 days because a have a conference in Shangai for 5 days, but I want to visit other cities in like Beijing or X’ian in the 10 days off, is it possible with this M visa?

  19. Hi Furio, do you know if it’s possible for someone on a M visa to register living at an apartment of someone who has a Z visa?

    I currently have a business visa and will be spending more time in China, perhaps full time. My friend has a Z visa and an apartment so I could live there if I can register. In Shenzhen I know that police do checks by knocking on apartment doors so I don’t want to break the visa rules.

    Are the government also trying to catch people who do visa runs?

    Thanks for any help.

  20. Callum Lloyd-Bailey

    Hi, great article. There was some hiccups with getting my Z-Visa (I have a job offer to teach in China). The company that are handling me have said they will instead get me a M visa and then when I arrive we will fly to Hong Kong and then change to Z visa. Is that feasible? (I am from the UK)

    1. Hi Callum,

      the only way to legally work in China is with a Z visa. Be very, very careful with this situation. Maybe they are “honest”, and they can’t provide a Z visa right away, but can provide it in Hong Kong (although this is weird…)

      But maybe, just maybe, they can’t provide a Z visa at all, and they are just trying to get you there and let you work under a M visa.

      1. They were providing me with a Z visa but there was a hiccup (id done a 120 TEFL course instead of the 140 with in class training) and because I was due to fly on the 26th of Feb and start the lady handling me said that we couldn’t do it in time (with it being Chinese holidays soon), so they told me that they can fly me on a M visa then we cannot go to HK till two days after I arrive and it has to be in the first month there, to which we’ll fly out.

        Does that sounds right, the lady who is handling me has seemed to know what she’s doing so far.

        Also sorry for the long message, I’m just having trouble finding info about it on the net, and you’re the best person I can find with knowledge :)

        1. Hello Callum,

          it seems they got a decent explanation, at least!

          of course I can’t guarantee this is “right”, because you will have to trust their goodwill and ability to provide a Z visa in Hong Kong, which I can’t forecast

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