What is the China ICP License, and How do I get one?
What is the China ICP License, and How do I get one?

TLDR; An ICP license is the ticket for your websites to operate legitimately in China. This ICP China guide explains what an ICP license is and how to get an ICP license for China.


What is the China ICP License?

An ICP (Internet Content Provider) license is the ticket for your websites, mobile apps, and content to operate, release, and publish legitimately in China.

The Chinese government controls websites, apps, and e-commerce within its border, and one of its methods is through China ICP Licenses.

ICP stands for Internet Content Provider. A China ICP license is a state-issued license that legally allows “any content provider” to host and operate in China.

This requirement was instated in 2000 by the Telecommunications Regulations of the People’s Republic of China.

China ICP License Official Government Website
China ICP License Official Government Website

Who Needs a China ICP license, and why is a China ICP license needed?

Article 4 from the Administrative Measures on Internet-Based Information Systems clearly states:

Those who have not obtained a license or have not performed the filing procedures shall not engage in Internet information services.

All sites hosted on mainland China servers must have an ICP license before their site goes live.


Types of China ICP Licenses

There are generally two types of ICP licenses, ICP Commercial License and ICP Filing, which include the following:

What is ICP Commercial License?

Article 3 generally states: “Commercial Internet information services refer to providing information or web page creation and other service activities to Internet users.”

Typically, this type of license is required for all e-commerce websites. It also applies if you plan to generate income of any type from the following activities: e-commerce, advertising, and any other kind of business that involves a payment.

What is ICP Filing? What is Bei’an?

Article 3 generally states:

Non-commercial Internet information services refer to service activities that provide open and shared information to Internet users for free through the Internet.

The Bei’an or ICP Filing is a license that is required for all non-commercial websites that provide information to people. The Chinese population can access this site, but you won’t be able to sell anything directly online.

Benefits of getting a China ICP

China's GPD
China's GPD

If you are reading this, you probably already understand the benefit of growing your business in China and its $15.4B GDP.

Some of the benefits of having an ICP in place include the following:

Risks of Hosting Content in China Without a China ICP

Some individuals might decide to “risk it” and operate in China’s “grey” area. The Chinese government is severe when it comes to companies operating outside of their Rules and Regulations.

New York Times Article Headline: Google is censored inside China.
New York Times Article Headline: Google is censored inside China.

Many high-profile companies have been blocked within the Great Firewall of China, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

Can I Avoid Getting a China ICP?

As we have mentioned, an ICP is required to host your site in mainland China.

However, you technically do not need an ICP if your site is not hosted in mainland China. Some companies bypass the rules in Mainland China by hosting their site in Hong Kong, China SAR. Hosting in Hong Kong is a temporary solution and has similar risks to hosting anywhere else outside of the Great Firewall of China.

Before you host your site in Hong Kong or any place near Mainland China, you can quickly test if your website is entirely blocked in China via tools China Firewall Test Tool or contact us to run the test for free.

It is always good to keep in mind when making these types of strategic decisions for your company that if your site is blocked, it cannot be unblocked in the future. If you want a serious online presence in China, it is best to pursue the ICP route for long-term success.


How to Get an ICP in China

Non-Chinese companies tend to hire someone to get the ICP for them to prevent unnecessary hassle.

To give you a sense, getting an ICP is done in a purely Chinese environment across many platforms. So if you are thinking of trying to get the ICP yourself, be sure you find someone who can speak and read Chinese to help you.

21YunBox offers a full ICP filing service for our clients.

We handle 200-300 ICP Filing annually and are very familiar with the process. All you need to do is provide us with the required information. Then our team in China will get that Filing for you, and we will talk to the Chinese government for you. Then pending the queue times, you’ll get the approved ICP filing back in 3-6 weeks.

Contact us if you are looking to get an ICP for your website in China. Our experts are available to provide you with a free consultation.

Frequent Asked Questions

What is the ICP number in China?

The ICP number is a unique ID that ties to your China ICP License. If you have successfully applied for the ICP Filing, the MIIT (China ICP License Official Government) will assign you an ICP number (unique ID, it looks like these: 京ICP备09042378号-6 ) to you.

Example: Microsoft's China ICP number.
Example: Microsoft's China ICP number.

How can I check my ICP license?

You can go to the MIIT(China ICP License Official Government) website and type in your Chinese company name, and it will list all the China ICP numbers for you.

For example, you can find all China ICP numbers owned by Microsoft on MIIT's databases by typing Microsoft's company name into the system.
For example, you can find all China ICP numbers owned by Microsoft on MIIT's databases by typing Microsoft's company name into the system.

How do I register for ICP in China?

Go through the steps we outline here. If you prefer to get the ICP yourself, you can follow the process outline here or contact us if you have different situations that want our help.

How do I get an ICP number?

When your application is approved, the MIIT (China ICP License Official Government) will assign you an ICP number.

How long does it take to get an ICP license?

Depending on your business and type of website, the process for ICP Filing usually takes 3-6 weeks, and the process for China ICP Commercial License takes about 60 working days or two months.

Sure, I’d be happy to help. Here’s a revised version of your FAQ question:

Can a Representative Office in China Apply for an ICP?

If your enterprise doesn’t have a branch office in mainland China but maintains a representative office, you’re eligible to apply for the “Registration Certificate of Resident Representative Office of Foreign (Regional) Enterprises”. This certificate can be obtained from the business administration agency and serves as the required business license for ICP filing.

Please note that while some provincial communications administrations permit representative offices to apply for ICP Filings, they may not allow applications for commercial ICP Licenses.

If you’re uncertain about this process or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We offer a free consultation call with our experts to address your queries.

How can we help?

Are you looking to host your content in China or have questions about obtaining an ICP? Schedule a time to talk to our expert today.

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