Distributing mobile apps in China can be a complex process. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to make your app accessible to the Chinese audience.
Understanding Your Options
App owners in the West have two primary options for distributing apps and games in China:
Option A: Local Distribution Service Provider
When considering how to publish your app in China, Option A is often the quickest and most reliable route. By partnering with a local distribution service provider, you gain valuable support throughout the approval process, ensuring a smoother experience. They can handle queries and guide you through the necessary steps.
Option B: Self-distribution
While self-distribution is possible, it’s a slower process and requires more documentation. It’s important to note that you’ll need to have a Chinese company or entity for this option to be viable.
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Before you submit your app to a Chinese app store, ensure you have the following essential requirements in place:
1. A Chinese Company, Entity, or Distributor (Android only)
Foreign companies cannot directly publish their apps on Chinese Android app stores. You must have a Chinese entity or use an authorized local distributor. Having an office in China is not enough.
2. Localized App APK
For your app to succeed in China, it must meet Chinese norms. This means translating all text to Simplified Chinese and ensuring that user-generated data is hosted on Chinese servers. Additionally, it should not rely on cloud services, APIs, or SDKs that are inaccessible behind the Great Firewall of China.
3. Localized App Name, Description, and App Icon
Choosing your app’s name carefully is crucial since it may need to match your SCC registration. Craft a compelling app description, which plays a vital role in App Store Optimization (ASO). If you need professional assistance with localization, services like 21YunBox can help.
4. User’s Manual For Your App
Government regulators will review your app. However, they won’t test it themselves. Instead, they’ll rely on a user’s manual provided by you. This manual should comprehensively explain how your app functions, including screenshots and examples.
5. Chinese Software Copyright Certificate (SCC)
To publish your app on major app stores in China, you’ll need a Chinese Software Copyright Certificate (SCC). This certificate, with a unique serial number, is essential for IP protection and app publication. The SCC application process typically takes about a month.
6. 80 Pages of Source Code
Part of the SCC registration process requires you to submit a chunk of your app or game’s code to protect your intellectual property. The government agency with your SCC will hold this code as evidence in case you ever need to claim someone else violated your software’s copyright. You can choose which part of your code to submit.
7. Additional Documentation and Compliance
Depending on your app’s type (e.g., travel, finance, health), industry-specific documentation may be required for distribution.
Since 2019, app developers and publishers must complete a Security Assessment Form to publish or update apps on their platforms.
- Cross-border data transfer: Information collected in Mainland China must be stored locally with Chinese cloud service providers, and any cross-border transfer requires prior approval from the Cyberspace Administration of China.
Hosting Solutions and Compliance
When it comes to hosting your application in China, it’s essential to ensure compliance with Chinese laws and regulations. 21YunBox offers solutions to get your app ready for the Chinese market, even if Google-based technologies are inaccessible in China.
Legal compliance is crucial for a successful online presence in China. 21YunBox provides a compliance assessment to ensure your app meets the necessary requirements before publishing.
Game License (for Games)
If your app is a game, you must obtain a game license from the National Administration of Press and Publication (NAPP). This is often referred to as a Game Registration Number (GRN) or ISBN. This number is issued when your game is approved.
Mobile App ICP Filing Number
Starting from September 1, 2023, all new apps must undergo the ICP Filing process before they can be published on app stores in China. Existing apps in China need a valid ICP Filing Number before March 31, 2024, to avoid removal from app stores.
If you are self-publishing, you’ll need the following additional items:
- Power of Attorney Letter
- Chinese Business Registration
- Photocopy of Passport (Business registration holder)
- Chinese SIM Card
- Signed Individual App Store Development Statement/Claim Guarantee Letter
Please note that for games, it’s typically impossible to obtain a game license without a Chinese entity. You may require a Chinese partner to publish your game.
Submission and Review Process
Once you have all the necessary materials, you’ll need to submit them along with your app or game’s APK to each app store individually. There is no “blanket submission form” that covers all stores.
The approval process typically takes 1-3 months for standard apps and 6-12 months for games. It’s advisable to start the process as early as possible.
This timeline is crucial for planning, especially if you’re launching a game. Games often require more time, and understanding these timelines can help you better strategize your release.
From here, you can upload your app’s APK file individually to each app store you wish to publish on, along with the supporting documentation you’ve gathered through this process. Keep in mind that each app store will have its unique interface and requirements for submission. Most will not provide an English-language interface, emphasizing the importance of seeking support, especially for ongoing maintenance.
How We Can Help
21YunBox can assist you with all your app and game distribution needs. We streamline the process, helping you procure all the necessary materials for publication on the top Chinese app stores. You’ll have one-on-one contact with a dedicated account manager and access to our online client dashboard, simplifying the journey.
Making your app’s presence in China a reality is possible with 21YunBox. We ensure that the necessary steps are taken to successfully navigate the complexities of the Chinese app market.
We hope this comprehensive guide provides valuable insights into how to make your mobile app accessible to the Chinese audience. For further assistance or questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
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