Opening a WOFE in China: Turn your Business Plan into a Business Scope

2022.02.14 16:33

Many details of your business plan will be laid out in the articles of association and related documents, but your business scope will be approved by the State Administration for Market Regulation and printed directly on your business license. Mistakes in the business scope could be costly and time-consuming to fix.

Your field of work will be limited to the items listed in your business scope.  Regularly creating invoices for work that is not listed on your registered business scope will create issues; therefore, getting professional help to prepare your scope and register your business is critical.

The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) regularly releases a new “negative investment list”, that restricts the industries and business scope items that can accept foreign investment.  How can you know what is on the list, and what steps can you take to understand and prepare your own business scope while planning to register a WOFE in China?

  1. Start with your primary activity, this will be part of your business name as well. (i.e. trade, business consulting, manufacturing, etc)
  2. Write down all the steps you will take as you help clients from initial contact to delivery of product.  This may include items such as translation, exporting, consulting, etc.
  3. If you know other businesses that are using a similar model, you can check their business scope using online tools such as or You can also use the official government website for checking business registrations:
  4. After you have a good list of potential items for the business scope, compare it to the official list. You can use an online tool like to check the list of items that can be placed on a Chinese business scope. Search for key words and make detailed notes of items you would like to include. Take special note of items that are restricted or require special permission; these will either be rejected or incur extra costs. (see examples below) 
WOFE Business Scope Item: Import Export Agent
WOFE Business Scope Item: Market Research
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