I wish to sell online language lessons. It would be geared towards Chinese learners.
I want to be legit and pay taxes...and be able to get a residence permit, so I'm guessing I need to set up a company but I'm wondering which kind since I wouldn't be selling a physical product. Wfoe? Or is there a special status for online companies?
I'm a bit lost when it comes to finding relevant info, especially as it looks like it depends a lot on the place you want to settle in. There seems to be a lot of companies helping you to set up your own in Shanghai for example, but what about Kunming or Dali?
Thanks for reading and thanks for your help.
Have a great day!
You should take proper legal advice, as the best that most of us on here can offer is opinion based on anecdotal knowledge, that may be out of date.
Here is my unqualified opinion. You would probably fall into the consultancy/training bracket. You could not be a classed as education without jumping through many hoops.
Setting up a company in Shanghai is easy as there is a special zone for foreign enterprises, with special permissions easily available. There will also be lots of agencies to help you set up. Your company will need some physical presence in Shanghai. There are probably many companies with shadow offices in Shanghai. As you are going to be operating online, your body could be anywhere in or out of that office.
a few districts in Shanghai have started issuing 'Start up visas' as a trial scheeme but it'll be a while before they make it to kunming (if ever). I doubt Dali would get them earlier than Kunming. Good luck and let us know if you manage to get going.
You'll absolutely need the appropriate business license and visa. Chinese companies are purpose oriented - meaning you're restricted to the scope of the license.
A school comes with restrictions, guidelines, and special tax incentives - usually lower taxes.
A consultancy or "training" organization, cultural exchange (language with a cultural bent) are other alternatives - but you'll need to research and discuss all the potential alternatives (SWOT) so you're prepared when you discuss this with either a legal or accounting firm that will help you with the venture.
gokunming has several english language capable law firms which advertise on its website in both the various advertising banners and are also listed in the <LISTINGS> section.
Your mileage may vary (YMMV) so best to compile a list or matrix of the different types of company registrations, costs, taxes, and other requirements that will be used to sponsor your visa(s) along with your tax obligations, office space requirement(s) if any, etc.
Maybe you can do your offerings via Skype, seems a lot of other individuals and companies already are.
Skype is now block in China I believe. However, you can use Wechat.
I use Skype all the time, and as recently as this morning.
There used to be a Tencent version of Skype, I assume it is still going, and I have seen ads with others using it for teaching.
If you are not tight on schedule, eg. your current residence in China does not depend on getting the business started, AND you have no language barrier, you can probably navigate the relevant steps yourself, if you just study online what paperwork needs to be done. Web is full of consultancy agenciens providing todo lists on their web pages.
As for company types, WFOE is your only possibility, if you want to operate it all by yourself.
But of if you want to have a partner, either foreign or local (working partner or just investor), you have other options, of which PE (partnership enterprise) is simplest on paper anyway.
If you are starting without considerable capital, then the biggest challenge is usually getting the work permit - the relevant authorities often want to see either registered capital for the company (subscribed if not already paid), or a personal fixed-term bank deposit of equal amount.
Registered capital requirements for business registrations have been reduced in last few years, but this has not fully extended to investor work permit requirements, which have followed same levels in the past.