There are still a lot of questions related to doing business in China. Club China offers you the unique opportunity to ask your questions to the experts of our China Helpdesk!
How to set up a catering business in China
Combining lawyers, permits and local governments
The Club China Helpdesk offers you support when you need business advice on any business practices in China. If you have any questions for us, just leave a comment below. In the meantime, learn from the advice we’ve given some of our other members.
Diego from Argentina asked asked:
"I have a business plan for a restaurant in Beijing and I wish some advice about the legal side; how do I set up the company? Which permits do I need and where do I get them?"
Certificates, permits and business licenses
There is a lot of demand for foreign restaurants in Beijing and other cities in China. The growing middle class in the larger cities are potential clients. The sector is open to foreign investment. The restaurant should be established as a foreign-invested commercial enterprise (FICE) in retail. The investment amount (called the “registered capital”) depends on the scale of the company (i.e. how much funds you initially need to get the restaurant running) and requirements of the local authorities, but in any case should be more than CNY 100,000. The licenses required are mostly the same as for other foreign-invested companies – approval certificate, business license, tax registration certificate, foreign exchange registration etc. – with some notable exceptions: you will need to obtain a sanitary license, and depending on the location, the kind of food (western or Chinese), the size of the restaurant etc., there may be additional licenses and procedures to be completed. There is some discretionary policy for local governments; small differences are possible, depending on the district in which you operate. For specific questions on these issues, we consult R&P China Lawyers (Mr. Robin Tabbers). They are extremely helpful and an informative conversation is useful.
Delegate and prioritize
While in theory you can proceed to the relevant local authorities, understand their requirements, prepare all relevant documents and complete procedures yourself, this would take a lot of valuable time that is perhaps better spent in marketing your restaurant. We think it is a better idea to retain a law firm, consultancy or even just an experienced individual to assist you. Fees will vary depending on the amount of advice and the level of service that you require. According to one entrepreneur: “help is needed but there are large differences in costs. We have seen companies offering 500 EURO to 13.000 EURO for the same service”.
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