China’s online environment is regulated more strictly than in many other parts of the world. Establishing a web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) or a Platform as a Service (PaaS) in China is possible for foreign companies, but it involves several crucial steps and considerations. This article will guide you through the process.

Like all online businesses operating in China, SaaS enterprises need to comply with the ever-evolving legal landscape. At 21YunBox, our account managers stay updated on these regulations and assist our clients in staying compliant with the following basic requirements:

Licensing for SaaS in China

To establish your SaaS presence in China, you’ll need two key licenses:

  1. ICP Beian (ICP备案), ICP Filing: This is the standard ICP license required to host a website in China. It is issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and is administered at the provincial level. Without this license, websites may be blocked in Mainland China.

  2. ICP Commercial: This license allows you to accept payments online, a crucial aspect for SaaS enterprises. Without this, your business won’t be able to operate legally in China.

Tesla's ICP Filing Number
Tesla's ICP Filing Number

How to Obtain an ICP Beian for China

You can start the application process for an ICP Beian even before your website goes live. However, you must first partner with a local hosting provider, to whom you’ll submit necessary documentation, which can vary from province to province. Required documents may include:

  • Certificate of the person making the application
  • Certificate of the website administrator
  • Certificate of the organization (for business entities)
  • Photo of the applicant holding the required documents
  • Letter of authorization
  • Residence Permit
  • Domain name holder certificate
  • Domain name confirmation (Beijing)
  • Commitment letter and website construction plan (Guangdong)
  • Certificate of Authorization (Yunnan, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jiangxi)

Once your documents are approved, they are sent to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (“MIIT”) for further review. If everything is in order, it typically takes about 20 business days to obtain an ICP Beian.

Ready to Expand Your SaaS into China?

Discover how 21YunBox can simplify the process of launching your SaaS in China. Ensure legal compliance, secure hosting, and improved user experiences. Let's make your China expansion a success.

Get Started with 21YunBox

Please note that the ICP system follows a “one account, one owner” rule. This means that if you own multiple websites, you can file for all of them from a single account, as long as you are the listed owner for all the domain names you will register.

Eligibility for ICP License

ICP licenses can be obtained by:

  • Chinese-owned businesses with a Chinese business license.
  • Partially or wholly foreign-owned (WOFE) businesses with any type of Chinese business license (excluding commercial ICP for foreign joint ventures).
  • Chinese nationals can receive an Individual ICP.
  • Non-Chinese individuals who meet registration requirements can apply for an Individual ICP.

Note: Foreign companies are not eligible for ICP licenses; they must partner with Chinese internet companies to use the licenses of the Chinese company.

21YunBox can help foreign companies navigate this process by applying for the necessary licenses on your behalf, ensuring full legal compliance with Chinese laws.

Hosting Your SaaS Platform in China

In addition to ICP licenses, 21YunBox can assist you with:

  1. Creating a Chinese Domain Name: This is a prerequisite for applying for licenses and must undergo real-name verification. Chinese domain names end in .cn. You can choose a name that resembles your current domain.

Link: Learn more about registering a .CN domain

  1. Hosting Your Site in China: All hosting providers require your ICP license numbers before releasing server credentials to you. Chinese law mandates that data acquired in China must remain within the country’s borders. Therefore, your site and databases must be hosted on servers physically located in China. This ensures faster loading times and improved user experience within China.

Data Security and Compliance

To ensure your SaaS collects data legally and is protected in case of a security breach, it’s important to follow the MLPS (Multi-Level Protection Scheme) certification process. This helps safeguard your network and data, as mandated by the 2017 Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China.

The 21YunBox Advantage

21YunBox offers a complete hosting solution in China, making it easy and cost-effective for your company to maintain legal compliance and provide the best experience for your Chinese customers. By partnering with us, you’ll benefit from our expertise and status as a Chinese company, allowing you to focus on your core operations.

Ready to launch your SaaS in China? Contact us today or sign up for a free account on our client dashboard to get more information.