CHINA COMPANY REGISTRATION – SHANGHAI, 2024: Foreigners can register and own companies in China, known as WFOEs—Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises. A WFOE is a limited liability company and can be established for various business types. The most common include international trading (import/export), business and IT consulting, graphic design, manufacturing, and sports consulting (e.g., gyms, football/basketball academies), and cultural promotion (related to promoting specific cultures). There are many other business types suitable for WFOEs. We recommend discussing the specifics so we can recommend the most appropriate structure.


1. Remotely – The process cannot be fully completed remotely, and company executives will need to travel to China to open a bank account.

2. In Person – The process can be completed entirely in person.


1. Document Preparation:

Company founders (also known as shareholders), the company director, and supervisor (must be two separate individuals) must apostille their passports, translate them into Chinese, and send these documents to our Shanghai office. Additionally, clients need to fill out an application form with details like the intended company name, executive information, and contact details.

2. Name Registration:

JR & Firm will apply for name registration, which typically takes around 5 business days.

3. Issuance of Structural Documents:

The company registrar will issue the structural documents, which JR & Firm will send to clients electronically, along with detailed instructions on how to sign them.

4. Signing Structural Documents:

Clients should sign the structural documents using a black gel pen, ensuring signatures exactly match those in their passports (digital signatures are not accepted). Print documents properly, ensuring they are clear and complete. Follow the detailed instructions exactly and return the signed original documents to us by post.

5. Submission of Signed Documents:

JR & Firm will submit the signed documents for company registration and await the issuance of the company’s general business license, a process taking around 10 business days.

6. Bank Account Preparation:

Once the general business license is obtained, company executives will need to plan their visit to China to open a bank account. Both the company director and supervisor must be present. If shareholders are different from these individuals, they must either visit or provide new apostilled and translated passport copies. If shareholders are corporate entities, apostilled company documents with Chinese translations are required.

7. Bank Account Opening:

During the visit, JR & Firm will accompany clients to the bank to open the company bank account. The main RMB account opening typically requires about 3 hours. If opening USD or other foreign currency accounts, a separate visit might be needed.

8. Tax Registration:

After opening the bank account, JR & Firm will assist clients in registering the company for taxes, which typically takes one day.

9. Customs Permit Application:

We will apply for a customs permit (aka E-port), which takes about 5-10 business days.

10. Foreign Currency Permit Application:

Simultaneously, we will apply for a foreign currency permit, which also takes about 10 days.

11. Finalization:

Once all steps are completed, the client’s company is officially active and ready to start doing business.

PLEASE NOTE: The process for setting up a company in China can be complex compared to other developed jurisdictions like the US or Hong Kong. We ask our clients to remain patient, as the time frames provided should be considered approximate. While JR & Firm LLC will do our absolute best to expedite the process, certain aspects are beyond our control, including government bureaucracy. We appreciate your understanding and are committed to supporting you every step of the way.


The process for in-person company registration in China closely follows the steps outlined previously, with one significant difference: our clients do not need to send us apostilled copies of their passports by mail. Instead, clients should travel to China with their original passports, and we will initiate the company registration process upon their arrival.

Important Note for Corporate Shareholders: If there are corporate shareholders involved in the company, clients are expected to bring apostilled company documents along with their translations into Chinese. This requirement also applies to individual shareholders who are not acting as company director and/or supervisor and, therefore, are not traveling to China. In such cases, please ensure to bring apostilled passport copies and their Chinese translations for these shareholders.

The rest of the process mirrors the steps detailed in the section on China company registration when done remotely.

For further assistance or specific inquiries, please feel free to contact us. We are here to ensure a smooth and compliant registration process for your business in China.

Frequently Asked Questions about Doing Business and Living in China

Company Registration and Bank Account Opening

Q: How long does it take to register a company and open a bank account in China?

A: Company formation with a general license typically takes 1.5 weeks. Bank account opening takes 1-2 days. Completing the tax registration and customs (e-port) will take an additional 10-12 days.

Work Permits

Q: How long does it take to receive a work permit in China? Can this process be expedited?

A: The work permit process is standardized by the government and cannot be expedited. It takes approximately 10 business days to apply for and receive the work permit card, and an additional 10-15 business days to obtain the residence permit with the right to work. There is an expedited option for a Type A work permit, which requires a promise of a minimum monthly salary of 60,000 RMB, generating around 10,000 RMB/month in personal income tax. This expedited process takes 5 business days for the work permit and around 10 business days for the residence permit with the right to work.

Q: Do I need to stay in China until I receive my work permit?

A: Yes, you must stay in China until you receive your work permit.


Q: How soon can I find rental accommodation in China?

A: You can find rental accommodation in as little as one day, depending on how quickly you can make a decision on a property. We can assist you in finding a suitable place.

Q: What documents are needed for renting a house?

A: A passport copy is required for renting a house.

Q: Are there gated community areas available for rental housing?

A: Yes, there are many gated community areas available for rental housing.

Q: What are the best locations or premium apartments for rent in Shanghai?

A: If budget is not an issue, premium locations in Shanghai include Xujiahui, Lujiazui, and Changning. Rent fees for a 2-bedroom apartment start from 15,000 RMB/month and up.

Mobile Services

Q: How can I get a Chinese SIM card with international roaming?

A: You can obtain a Chinese SIM card with international roaming by visiting a local SIM card provider office with your passport. We will assist you with this process.

Car Rental

Q: Can I rent a car in China, and what documents are needed?

A: Yes, you can rent a car in China. You will need to convert your driver’s license into a Chinese one. Required documents include your passport, your foreign driver’s license, and visa copy. Temporary driver’s licenses are available based on your current license. Agencies can assist with this process, which costs around 1,000-2,000 yuan and takes about 7 days.

We hope this information helps you in your transition to living and doing business in China. For further assistance, please contact our support team.

JR & Firm LLC: Your Trusted Partner for Corporate Services in China

Navigating the business landscape in China can be challenging, but JR & Firm LLC is here to simplify the process for you. With over 15 years of experience in corporate consultancy, we specialize in a range of services tailored to meet your business needs. Whether you’re looking to form a company, draft contracts, structure your organization, or set up offshore accounts, we’ve got you covered.

Our Services in China Include:

  • Company Formation: From selecting the right business structure to handling all the legal formalities, we make the process of setting up a company in China seamless and hassle-free.
  • Contract Drafting: Our team of legal experts will draft contracts that are not only compliant with Chinese laws but also protect your interests.
  • Company Structuring: We help you design an efficient organizational structure that aligns with your business goals and complies with local regulations.
  • Offshore Accounts and Company Formation Globally: Looking to expand beyond China? We can assist you in setting up offshore accounts and forming companies worldwide.
  • Consultancy Services: Benefit from our in-depth market insights and strategic advice to make informed business decisions.

Contact Us:

For more information on how JR & Firm LLC can assist you in China, feel free to reach out to us at:

Trust JR & Firm LLC to be your reliable partner in China, offering comprehensive solutions for all your corporate needs.

JR & Firm LLC is also the proud owner of an international logistics company, JR International Logistics LLC. If you’re seeking a reliable logistics partner to transport your goods from any location worldwide to any desired destination, we invite you to explore our services. Please click here for more information.

1. What is the first step if I want to register a WFOE?

The first step towards registering a WFOE in China involves contacting a professional consultancy firm, such as JR & Firm, and signing a service agreement. In theory, the founders could handle the process themselves. However, since it requires an in-depth understanding of the company registration system and proficiency in Mandarin Chinese, it is generally more practical to hire a professional company to prevent potential mistakes during the process.

2. I have signed a service agreement with JR & Firm to register my WFOE, what's next?

After signing an agreement with our clients for WFOE registration in China, we issue a formal invoice. At this stage, we anticipate that our clients will make a payment for the service, allowing us to commence the process.

3. I have paid JR & Firm for the WFOE registration service, what should I do next?

Upon receiving full payment for the WFOE registration, we provide our clients with a detailed questionnaire. This document requests all the necessary information about the company, business activity, founders (shareholders), and executives (including the company director and supervisor). We request that our clients complete the questionnaire and return it to us via email.

4. What should I prepare for the WFOE registration questionnaire?

1. Company Name Choices: In China, WFOE names should follow this structure: [Place of Registration] + [Chosen Name] + [Business Direction] + Co., LTD. For example, Shanghai Silk Road International Trading Co., LTD, or for a consultancy company: Shanghai Silk Road Consulting Co., LTD. An alternative structure is: [Chosen Name] + [(Place of Registration)] + [Business Direction] + Co., LTD. For example: Silk Road (Shanghai) International Trading Co., LTD. Please note, in China, a company’s Chinese name is considered its main name. If our clients know Chinese, we ask for name choices in both Chinese and English, following the above structure. If not, English name choices will suffice, and we will select a corresponding Chinese name based on similar sounds. Avoid city, country, and historical names, as they’re typically disallowed. Also, we discourage direct translations of the English name due to high likelihood of them being taken. We recommend selecting similar-sounding Chinese characters to avoid delays. The Chinese name does not need to have a specific meaning, as meaningful characters are often taken.

2. Company’s Legal Person (Company Director): The legal person is an individual and cannot be a corporate entity. Please prepare their full name (as on the passport), a copy of their passport (not ID), along with their address, phone number, and email address.

3. Company’s Supervisor: The company supervisor is a separate individual from the company director, meaning they cannot be the same person. Please provide their full name (as on the passport), a copy of their passport (not ID), and their address, phone number, and email address.

4. Company’s Shareholder(s): Shareholders are the owners of the company and can be both individuals or corporate entities. Both the company director and supervisor can be shareholders. There can be up to 50 shareholders. Whether an individual or corporate shareholder, full information is required: full names, contact details, address, and either passport copies (for individual shareholders) or a full set of company documents (for corporate shareholders).

5. Company’s Business Activity: What products and/or services does the company plan to sell? Please prepare a detailed list.

6. Company’s Registered Capital: The registered capital is the amount the founders plan to invest in the company over a span of 30 years or more. The amount varies depending on the activity and place of registration. We recommend $300,000 for international trading companies and $100,000 for consultancy companies, as examples. The registered capital amount is usually suggested by the local government.

7. Full Contact Details for All Involved Executives and Shareholders: We need the complete contact details for all executives and shareholders. This includes addresses, emails, and phone numbers.

5. I submitted the WFOE registration questionnaire to JR & Firm via email, what's next?

Once we receive the completed WFOE registration questionnaire, we review it carefully and follow up with our clients accordingly. If there’s any missing information, or if the company requires additional permits or licenses based on its planned products or services, we will inform the client. If everything is in order, we prepare the application documents, attach our clients’ documentation, and submit the WFOE registration application. The estimated waiting period for feedback from the government on the registration application is approximately 10 business days. Please note that timeframes in China are approximate due to government bureaucracy.

6. How long does it take to get my WFOE license after the registration application is submitted?

Once the WFOE registration application is submitted, the government generally responds within 10 business days. If approved, they will issue the company’s structural documents, which the founders (shareholders) and executives (director and supervisor) are required to sign with a black gel pen and mail back to us (Note: In China, only black gel pens are acceptable for signing legal documents; other colors and ballpoint pens are not accepted). We then submit the signed documents to the company registrar and await the business license. The waiting period for the business license is roughly 10 business days unless expedited service was purchased. With expedited service, a business license can be obtained within 2-5 business days. Contact us for more details about the expedited service.

7. Great, I have obtained my WFOE business license, what is the next step?

Once we secure the WFOE business license, we will contact our clients and the bank to schedule an appointment to open a corporate bank account for the company. Please note, the company director must be present in China to open a corporate bank account and their citizenship should not be among the countries sanctioned in the bank’s system. Alongside being present, the director needs to provide a Chinese phone number linked to their passport and a second person’s passport and phone number linked to this second person’s passport. This second person can be anyone in China (provided their citizenship isn’t among the sanctioned countries) with a Chinese phone number. This requirement is due to the banks’ need to issue online banking devices that require two people’s information. Legally speaking, this second person doesn’t have any rights or obligations regarding the company’s finances or bank account. While this might seem unusual, it remains a requirement, so we advise clients to identify such an individual in China before opening a bank account. The bank account opening process takes around 5-6 hours, and we recommend our clients exercise patience during this process.

8. I have my WFOE bank account opened, what is the next step?

After your WFOE bank account is opened, we’ll proceed to contact the customs department to initiate the process for the e-port device (if you’re registering an international trading WFOE focused on import/export. Note that e-port isn’t required for consultancy or other types of companies). This process typically takes about 5 business days, and we’ll mail the e-port device to our clients once it’s secured.

9. I have obtained my e-port device, are there any other steps to be completed before I start my company’s operations?

Yes, following the acquisition of the e-port for the WFOE, we’ll register the company with the tax department. This process generally takes around 14 business days, and it requires the company director to visit the tax office in person for ID verification.

10. After the WFOE tax registration, are there any other steps involved before the company becomes active?

Indeed, the final step in the WFOE registration is the foreign currency permission application. This process typically takes around 7 business days and necessitates a visit to the relevant government department. After securing the foreign currency permission, the WFOE can commence its operations.

On the whole, the complete process for WFOE registration can span anywhere between 4 and 8 weeks. As we mentioned earlier, all timeframes are approximations due to the inherent unpredictability of government bureaucracy. Although these factors are beyond our control, we will do our absolute best to expedite the process.

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