Same as WFOE, Representative office is established and fully controlled by foreign investors without Chinese partner participation. However, the business nature of Representative Office is confined to liaison purpose. Direct trading, manufacturing, receiving business revenue are not allowed. The key concept of representative office is a liaison office. Investors can use representative office for such activities as marketing products and services, sourcing of suppliers, quality control, market research, logistics control, technology exchange or others.
Setting up a representative office in China is the cheapest and quickest solution of establishing a presence in China.
Representative office is required to pay business tax and foreign enterprise income tax at a rate of 15% on the total expenses like rent, staff salary, electricity, management fee and others. Once the Representative Office is officially registered, it is required to maintain proper accounting records in accordance with accounting standards in China and report taxes on both monthly and quarterly basis.
In general, we would suggest our customers to set up a Hong Kong company for invoicing to their non-China customers and place orders to China suppliers. Representative Office can provide a supportive role and liaison with suppliers in China.
Since the beginning of 2010, it is a requirement that the applicant Company of the Representative Office must have been set up for minimum two years. In addition, the business registration certificate and bank reference letter of the applicant Company must be notarized by the China Attested Officers and legalized by China Certification Office in Hong Kong or Chinese embassy in the recognized countries. Time for registration will take around 2 – 4 months, subject to the province government and nature of business.