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China Representative Office

How to expand your business to China by setting up a China Representative Office

No Registered Capital Required
Set-up in 30 working days


China Representative Office Registration

A China Representative Office, also known as Liaison Office, is a commonly used low-cost investment vehicle for mainland China-based businesses. It is designed for businesses wiling to develop a China presence. The registration of a representative office takes about 30 working days to be done.

A China Representative Office registration is popularly used by Chinese business investors to gain positive returns, mainly through testing Chinese market as an insider. It was created for those businesses that wish to promote foreign company throughout China. A Representative Office registration usually takes a month to be completed.

China Representative office rules

A representative office in China merely represent the businesses that exist back home. They are not separate from the main branch (which exists outside of China), but merely a ( rep offices) representative of a China foreign owned company. Moreover, they cannot participate in any activities that cause them to gain returns. According to Chinese law, they can only perform liaison activities. They are not permitted to sign up legal binding documents or charge any customers and cannot charge a sales service fee. Basically, they cannot conduct any direct financial activites, like make any money in China or receive money from Chinese people and businesses thereof, under any circumstances. However, bank branches, insurance firms, accounting and law companies are allowed to participate in activities that would cause them to gain wealth in China. Representative offices in China are good for marketing research, connecting with clients or global networking.

China Representative office

What can a China Representative Office do?

A Representative Office in China can operate an indirect business such as contacting, product promotion, market survey, and technology communication. Is of the best entry channels to test the China market.


China Market Research

A rep office is also known as a ‘liaison office. This means that you will be able to outreach activities in China such as market research, liaising with clients or suppliers, developing a local network, advertising, renting business and personal premises.

china representative office

Fast Setup

A Rep Office or (RO) is a less expensive, and fast way for foreign businesses to set up in China. Foreign companies specifically use RO for non-direct profit business activities which usually involves product promotion, research and engagement.

China Trading Company Registration

Product Promotion

If your final goal is to outreach activities in China then a representative office is considered to be a good solution. Rep office is a specific company type – for businesses who want a presence in China which is not connected to trading.

China Consulting Company Registration

Test the Market

 A Rep Office opens up a vast opportunity to step up your business and gain further involvement in the China. Companies can test the market to make sure of any investments or strategies before they decide to fully engage in the Chinese market.

WFOE vs Joint Venture

Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise WFOE is a limited liability company in China that is privately held, and its shareholders are foreigners that wish to do businesses in China, no need for a Chinese partner. Joint Venture is a company that starts in China with a minimum of one foreign and one Chinese shareholder as well. WFOE usually takes about 40 working days to be set up and requires you to specify the scope of your business during the application process. You need to decide which type of business you require: service, trading or manufacturing. The process is broken down into pre-registration and post-registration.

China RO vs Joint Ventures

A Chinese Representative office activities in china is the easiest of the three structures, to both set up and get off the ground. The China RO’s legal entity are subject to being inspected and need to keep all accounting records but the application is still very simple. Once submissions of company documents are made and approved, all that is needed to register company in China, is for it to register with different Chinese government agencies. The process of setting up Joint Venture, on the other hand, is complex. One would need to first find a suited Chinese company to partner with, then discuss the terms of that relationship as in who will be the chief representative. Shareholders and the company involved, need to agree on important matter

WFOE vs China Representative Office

WFOE companies are owned in its entirety by the foreign parent company. All aspects of the business including its day-to-day operations are solely handled by the foreign company. This structure makes it simple for companies to protect their trademarks, secrets of the trade and business processes. WFOE is a completely independent, economic entity, bearing legal liability independently. Wholly foreign owned enterprise biggest advantage is long-term license, generally 15 to 30 years, while Representative office usual existing duration is 2 years, due to legal limitation.

Cost of set up a China Representative Office

Setting up a WFOE used to require a total capital of RMB 100,000. However, this changed in 2014 and now there is no minimum amount. The cost of setting up a representative office in China was affordable but since 2010 they have gotten a little expensive. Now there is a financial burden on the representative office in China and the tax burden has also increased from 9.5% to 11.69%. JV set up costs are subject to the type of JV set up: Equity Joint Ventures and Cooperative Joint Ventures. The minimum amount of capital needed is RMB 30 000 for each of the investors, yet, this depends on the shareholders.

China Representative Office or WOFE?

The decision of which structure you want, in order to expand your business, is an important one. Each of them offers their own benefits and the final decision is up to you, depending on your goals as a business entity. A China RO is a perfect solution for businesses that want to try the Chinese market for the first time. It allows businesses to develop relationships, and create their presence in China, as well as understand how business is done there. WFOE is very different because it allows companies to set up a more real presence from which to trade and conduct business for profit. They also benefit from a lower tax rate and gain full control of the operation. Finally, a JV is a good choice for those businesses that already have existing relationships with companies in China and are suitable in cases where WFOE is not an option due to governmental regulations. You may decide which structure you wish to go with, but you should do further research.


What you need to know about setting up a Representative Office in China

With an RO being one of the most common options for foreign Businesses in China, it opens up a vast opportunity to set up your business and gains further involvement in the Chinese market. With the help of an RO, companies can test the market to make sure of any investments or strategies before they decide to fully engage in the Chinese market.

The main Pros of a Rep Office

  • Quick to set up a new rep office
  • Registered capital is not a requirement
  • Less tax than other types of business setups (no corporate or divided taxes)
  • Less expensive solution and easy to use
  • Easy to meet up with contacts and factories in China, saving time
  • Able to have your own physical presence and office in China
  • Can hire foreign and local staff
  • Manage product and supply chain from within China
  • Quality of product check
  • Keep marketing strategies updated.

The main Cons of a Rep Office

  • The restrictions of all activities which involves profit (i.e. an RO cannot sell or make money)
  • Can only deliver services to its main offices
  • An RO may not take part in any contracts with customers involved in China
  • May not trade or do business with external entities
  • The RO cannot employ staff directly and must make use of an authorized agency
  • You must rent an office space for your RO before starting the setup process


Representative office registration

When setting up a China Rep Office in China, there are numerous things to consider and hence it is important to seek appropriate legal help. Corporation China has developed unparalleled expertise in this area and can provide you with everything necessary to set up your representative office.  Corporation China offers first-class solutions to all of the following requirements.


In China, prospective clients and business partners will often ask you where is your company located in China. Hence, a good location is an asset. At Corporation China, we offer excellent solutions for this through our Virtual Office System China Presenceor our China Virtual Entity™ system.

Bank Account

Due to existing restrictions on international money transfers in China, your mainland-based clients will only be able to pay you within China. Therefore, a bank account in which local companies can transfer you Chinese RMBs is necessary.  

China Representative Office Registration

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Whats Needed To Start Your China Representative Office

Whats Needed To START your China Representative Office

1. Do your homework.
find out more about the market and if your services or products will do well in China
[ contact a company like Brand Asia that can help you with market research ]

2. Pick a location
Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou are the major business and industrial centers. The type of business may require you set up in one of these cities. Shanghai counts for one-third of China’s GDP and also easy to find staff that speak good English

3. Choose a Chinese Company Structure

Before registering you need to decide what type of business entity to register. The most common for foreign Investment are Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprises (WOFE), Representative Offices (RO) and Joint Ventures

4. Develop a business plan.
A detailed business plan is crucial because once the government approves it, you will be able to operate only within the business scope, but that can also be changed if needed

Business Plan for China Representative Office

5. Organize the necessary documents.
The documents you’ll need to register for a Company will vary from place to place but mostly is just a few passport and company information.

6. Trademark your intellectual property.
Intellectual property violations can be an issue for foreign investors in China.
Trademark is a first to serve the system and is a simple process

8. Open a Bank Account
Once your company is established, you will need to open a bank account and also apply for a tax invoice ( Fapioa) machine

9. Hire staff (if required)
Hiring staff in China might seem complex ,our Yingke HR Division can help

Need Help?

Documentation for China Representative Office

  • A scan of your passport
  • A Personal Bank Reference Letter
  • Choose a name for the your China WFOE
  • Choose a location for the company in China

  • Notarized copy of Passport of Director and Company Registration Certificate
  • Hong Kong Company Registration Certificate
  • Hong Kong Company Bank Reference Letter
  • The Hong Kong Company will then be the Holding Company for the China Representative Office. We can set up a Hong Kong Company in about 5 days

  • A Passport Scan of the Director(s)
  • A Certificate of Company incorporation
  • A Company Bank Reference Letter – stating no bad record
  • All Documents need to be notarized by the Chinese Embassy.

Bank Account

Opening a China Bank Account

Opening a China Bank Account is a post-licensing service. Corporation China has the knowledge to assist your company during the Bank Account Opening Process. We can Guarantee the China Bank account as we have a partnership with most of the top banks in China. The bank you chose is at your discretion but most of our clients have chosen Bank of China or HSBC. You may contact us for more information about opening a Bank Account and the required documentation must be provided to the Bank during the Process. 


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How much will I need to start ?

Basically the starting fees and Government License fees, Let us know what you intend setting up and we can send you a detailed proposal.

How Fast will the set up take?

Most companies in China quote 3-9 months, BUT Corporation China can normally set it up in under 6 weeks (and we know what the next question will be)

Why can Corporation China set up the Company so quickly?

Its a Chinese word called ” Guanxi. we have been doing this for more than 15 years, have 6000 lawyers and are know as one the top law firms in the world.

What is Registered Capital?

Registered capital is the amount of injected capital that is invested by shareholders in a foreign investment enterprise that is registered in China as is a Tax-Free way to bring capital into China. This registered capital can we used to set up the company and operate it until it starts to make a profit.

How much is the Registered Capital?

NO REGISTERED CAPITAL NEEDED With Corporation China (and only with us) we can arrange a Registered Capital that does not need to be paid up, this means you can choose any Registered Capital, but you never have to inject it, unless you want to.

What is the best structure to use?

The fastest way is setting up a Hong Kong company, as all the documents are already in Chinese and Hong Kong is also a Tax Free zone so all profit can be sent from your China Company to its Holding Hong Kong company, saving of taxes. You can download our WHY HONG KONG PDF 

How to choose a Chinese company name ?

Corporation China can assist your company with that, it can be a “sounds like the English name” ( as in the case of Mcdonalds where it goes by the Chinese name of 麦当劳 Màidāngláo) or a good meaning Chinese company name , but at the end of the day most companies still use their English name for marketing and logos.

Do I need to go to China to get started?

No, we can set 90% up by email at first. You will need to come to open the bank account once the company is near complete, if you are the Legal representative of the company and also to sign some papers at the government office.

Can Corporation China povide a Virtule type office and China Telephone number ?

Yes, we have 44 offices in China, and we can provide you with a Virtual Address to put on your business card and a telephone number answered in your company name  More info

If I contact Corporation China, can you understand me?

At Corporation China we privileged to have staff from all over the world working for us, here are a few the languages we speak: English, Italian, Finnish, Dutch, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Russian, Afrikaans, Japanese, Shanghainese, Cantonese and of course Mandarin and some Chinglish (Chinese English).

If I contact Corporation China, can you understand me?

At Corporation China we privileged to have staff from all over the world working for us, here are a few the languages we speak: English, Italian, Finnish, Dutch, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Russian, Afrikaans, Japanese, Shanghainese, Cantonese and of course Mandarin and some Chinglish (Chinese English).

Why use Corporation China?

The main reason is not that we the largest, it is that understand your needs as many of our directors are also Foreigner’s that came to China to start a business as you intend to. Yingke began with one office in Beijing and had grown to what it is today. We take that knowledge on how to succeed and use that to help you.

Where are your offices located?

Corporation China has 44 branches in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Hong Kong and overseas branch offices in London, Singapore, Switzerland, Lisbon, Cape Town, Dubai and Miami USA See our Contact us

Where are your offices located?

Corporation China has 44 branches in China including  Beijing , Shanghai , Guangzhou , Shenzhen , Xiamen , Hong Kong and overseas branch offices in London , Singapore , Switzerland ,Lisbon, Cape Town ,Dubai and Miami USA See our Contact us

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Arnnodo Neto

Regional Director

Arnnodo is expertise lies in Media, Marketing and Strategy

He speaks Spanish, Italian, English and Chinese

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