How to Get ICP License in China
Hosting a website in China can be seen as messy, difficult and extremely confusing for most people but, in fact, the process is quite straight forward. With this guide, we aim to guide you through the whole registration process from the very beginning to the launch of your website in mainland China.
As we are a web agency based in Beijing and Shanghai, we are accustomed to this process and can assist you with the registration if you require assistance. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are facing any difficulties.
Internet Content Provider License: Definition
The Internet Content Provider License, also known as ICP License or 备案 (Bei An) in Chinese, is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry & Information to allow internet website to legally operate in China mainland. Each website hosted in China must have its own ICP license, but if your website is hosted in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan you don't need to apply for a license.
Without a proper license or a partnership with a Chinese counterpart, your website can be shut down by the China-based Internet service providers that you are using as it’s required to block the site if a license is not acquired within a grace period.
Moreover, each hosting company based in China is required to regularly check that all their clients comply with the regulation. If your license number is not displayed properly or your license number is not right (incorrect number), your hosting company can shut down your website without any prior warning.
Application Process: Procedure, Cost, Delay
The whole registration process is organized by the Ministry of Industry & Information which is part of the State Council. The MII is in charge of the manufacture of electronic and information products, the communications and the software industry. It is also involved in the promotion of the national economy and social services across China.
1. You need to create an account at http://www.miibeian.gov.cn (Ministry of Industry & Information) by entering your e-mail address and cell phone number in the form.
2. After the approval by the MII, you will receive a confirmation code on your both cell phone and e-mail account.
3. After receiving the code you have to login into the MII website, enter the code, and access your account. This step allows the MII to verify your identity and that you are the owner of the website.
4. After login into the MII Web site, you will have to fill out an on-line form with your name, mobile phone number, home phone number, home address, domain name, host provider, company name, and a description of your website.
You still need to have a partnership with a local company to apply for it if you are a foreign company. The processing time is about 3 weeks from the day you are starting the application but it can takes up to 60 days depending what kind of business you are doing in China. Take in consideration that national holiday can increase the delay of getting your ICP license delivered on time.
Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that your application will be accepted.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What will happen if I don’t follow the regulation rules?
Many websites don’t have their own ICP license yet or haven’t started the process and are still online but as soon as their hosting company knows that they don’t have their own ICP License, they will shut down it and invite them to get one as fast as possible.
2. I’m working for a foreign company (not Chinese), should I still apply for it?
Every single website hosted in mainland China has to have its own proper license whatever is the owner’s nationality. But foreign companies have to set up a partnership with a Chinese company in order to register. You will not be able to obtain one if you go on your own without a local partnership.
Following the Ministry of Information Industry’s rules, all foreign companies which wish to register an ICP license must withdraw all foreign investments or hand over its service operations including assets, staff, domain name, trademark and clients to a local partner, and set up another company that is totally controlled by the Chinese partner.
THEM is able to register and do the whole process for you as we are a fully incorporated company under the Chinese law.
3. I don’t want to have a .cn domain name, should I still apply for the license?
As soon as your website is hosted in any datacenters located within the border of Mainland China you need to apply for it. The registration is compulsory whatever your domain name is.
If you are operating within China through a joint venture company with a local partner, then the foreign-owned shares must be kept below 50% of the total shares.
4. What kind of sites can be hosted in China?
Any website which doesn’t violate Chinese law could get a license. The Chinese law prohibits the following topics: pornographic or promoting immoral behavior, websites offensive to the Chinese government, websites selling drugs or satellite equipment and websites that promote banned activities or organizations.
5. My website is an e-commerce platform not a corporate website. Do I still need to apply for the ICP?
As your website will be registered under the business category, you will need to provide additional information during the application process. You will be granted a business license (commercial license).
If you have any troubles, misunderstanding, questions, remarks about the ICP registration within Mainland China, you are welcome to contact us and we will be happy to help you.