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China is open for business. What you need to apply for an M visa in 2023.

After lifting most of its COVID-19 restrictions this past January, China resumed the issuance of visas for foreigners. Business professionals interested in traveling to the country in 2023 for commercial and trade activities, such as attending trade fairs, visiting clients and factories, negotiating with clients, and signing contracts can apply again for an M visa.

China business visa or trade visa, M visa for short, is issued to foreigners and in most cases has a validity period of three months. While the allowed duration of stay is usually 30 days, it can be longer depending on applicants' personal cases. For Canada, Argentina, and US citizens, they can get a 10-year China business visa.

The international business community celebrated the announcement by the Chinese government on the reopening of the borders, after almost three years of some of the world’s strictest anti-Covid preventive measures and a Zero-Covid policy. Currently, foreign companies and investors may start planning the resumption of business activities in the country.

China M or F visa used to confuse many foreign visitors. From 2013, the original F is divided into M and F. The former is for business and trade, while today’s China F visa applies to noncommercial science, tech, and cultural exchanges.

Individuals from the UK, India, Singapore and Australia interested in applying for a M visa must first visit the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (CVASC) website, fill in an online visa application form, including a recent photograph, and make an in-person appointment at a visa center, using the reservation form. All other nationals must visit their local consulate to request an appointment.

The application should be submitted at least one month prior to travel, but not earlier than three months.

Before going to the appointment, you will need to print out and sign the application form and a separate declaration, and print out the reservation form.

The following documents must be presented:

  • Passport with at least six months’ validity and two blank pages

  • Photocopies of the passport’s ID page

  • Photocopies of previous Chinese visas (plus photocopies of any previous passports that contained Chinese visas)

  • Recent passport photo (in case of any issues with the photo uploaded with your form)

  • Proof of legal stay or residence if you are applying from a third country

  • China Business Visa Invitation Letter issued by a Chinese business or trade partner; or issued by duly authorized Chinese institutes or relevant units; or by a trade fair. The invitation letter must include the applicant’s details; details of the planned visit (including purpose, dates, locations, etc.); details of the inviting party (including official stamp, signature of the legal representative or individual,) and Chinese ID if the inviting party is a Chinese individual.

At the appointment, the individual will be asked to submit all documents and have fingerprints taken. In some cases, an interview may be necessary. At the end of the appointment, the visa fee will be collected. The approximate cost of a M visa is US$ 140.

It normally takes 4 working days for processing the application. However, express and rush service are available if you need to pick up your M visa earlier. Extra US$ 30 should be paid for the same-day collection; and additional US$ 20 for the second- or third-day collection.

China business visa fees are the same as that of tourist visas. The applicant’s nationality and number of entries can make a difference. In general, Chinese multiple-entry business visas cost more. In countries where there are CVASC, you need to pay both the Chinese M visa fee and the service fee to the center.

After entering China, if the duration of stay cannot cover your trip, it’s possible to go to the local exit and entry administration to apply for a China business visa extension at least seven days before the original M visa expires.

F visa is issued to foreigners invited to China for a noncommercial exchange, investigation or visits for scientific and technological education, cultural exchanges, health, or sports activities. In some cases, foreigners with a need to travel frequently in and out of China over a longer period may be granted a 12-month multiple entry F visa.

It is recommended that you double check visa requirements with the local Chinese consulate at your city of origin.

To learn more about our services in China, contact our Head of Business Advisory - Ms. Kristina Koehler-Coluccia at

DISCLAIMER: All information in this article is verified to the best of our ability and is assumed to be correct at time of release; however, Woodburn Accountants & Advisors does not accept responsibility for any losses arising from reliance on the information provided within. The information provided is for general guidance and does not replace specialized advice.


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