China Marketing Blog

How To Apply For An ICP License In China

Misha Maruma — Wed, 11/12/2014 - 16:32

Beian ICP information page

Applying for an ICP license is important for any foreign company that wants to establish a China-based website to build its business or do e-commerce in China.

If you are considering entering the Chinese online market to expand your business then you need to know what an ICP license is and if your company needs one.

 

ICP license

An ICP license number can be found at the bottom of the website hosted in China.

Location of ICP number on a webpage

If you need an ICP license because you want to host your website in Mainland China then read on to find out how to apply for it. 

 

Some important notes

Before I explain the documents needed and the process to follow I want to point out some important facts to note. 

  • There are two types of ICP license: personal and commercial
  • Individuals can’t apply for a commercial ICP license
  • Foreign passport holders can’t be the named contact for the website
  • Depending on the type of website and the province where the company is registered, the application will take between three to six weeks
  • Foreign companies can’t apply for an ICP (this includes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan)
  • The website must be hosted within Mainland China to apply for an ICP license
  • An ICP license is required prior to activation for new .cn domain name websites 
  • The best way to apply for an ICP license is through the hosting provider
  • If you do not have a Chinese business entity and want to host a simple website in China, we have a service for you.

 

What’s the difference between a personal and a commercial ICP license? 

A personal ICP license can’t be used for websites related to group buying, law business, medical business, e-commerce and forums. Anything that can be considered commercial in anyway is off limits.

A personal ICP license can be used for websites that are focussing on general information such as recipes, travel diaries and experience sharing in general. 

 

Documents required 

  • A copy of the company Chinese business license
  • ID card copy of contact person (must be Chinese national)
  • Photo ID of business owner (can be a foreign national)
  • Signed ICP application forms (the paper form can be filled in and scanned) – information must include
    • Official company name
    • Company registered address
    • Type of company
    • Contact person’s ID card number, mobile number, office line number, email address
    • Website information i.e. domain name, homepage, website name, type of website, type of content
    • Note that certain businesses such as news sites, publishing, education, healthcare, medicines, culture and broadcasting will need to include further documentation

All forms must be completed in Chinese only

 

Application process

The best way to apply for an ICP license is to go through the hosting company that you are using. All hosting companies in China provide the ICP license application service.

Below is a step-by-step guide to complete the process.

  • Go to the hosting provider’s ICP license application page

ICP license process homepage

 

  • Register the account

Register the account

 

  • Fill in personal details and company information

Fill in personal and company details

 

  • Upload personal and company material onto the ICP application system

Upload documents

 

  • The application system will then verify the information. This will be completed in 2 to 3 business days

Wait for verification

 

  • After the information has passed verification you need to take a photo of the website owner at a local verification point

Photo of website owner

 

The important part to note here is that the image must have a specific background. You’ll have to go to a specified public place to do this and pay a fee to have the photo taken.

It’s also possible to get a copy of the background sent to you and add the image to it.

 

  • After passing photo verification, send off the paper application and business license. Below is a copy of the form to be filled in.

ICP form

Once complete the form can be scanned and sent off electronically.

 

  • At this point the application might be inspected by a government department. This can take 15 to 20 working days
  • While awaiting for approval by the government your site can officially go online
  • If your application is denied due to submitting wrong or missing information, you will have to go through the process again

After the ICP license has been approved you will receive an email from the Beian government office.

 

Final questions

We get a lot of questions asking about getting an ICP license such as:

  • I am hosting a website in Malaysia, even though I do not need it, can I still apply for the ICP License?
  • I have a Chinese business entity and I have a .com domain. I am ready to apply for an ICP license. Do I still need a hosting provider?

Getting an ICP license is a long and complicated process. We’d only suggest that you do it if you really need to. This means making sure you need an ICP license in the first place. And if you do then this means following all the steps above. 

 

Cover image source: achang.com

 

If you have any questions about the ICP license process leave a comment below 

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Comments

Awesome article. Really appreciate you guys taking the time to explain everything. I've already signed up for your news letter. Thanks again!!

Hi Misha,.
Thanks a lot for the brilliant article.
If I want you to assist me to issue the ICP license (commercial ICP license), can this be done?
Best regards,
Tom

you wrote: Foreign companies can’t apply for an ICP (this includes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), what about a WFOE or REPRESENTATIVE OFFICE, will you be able to apply an ICP license thought those companies. ????

 Thanks for reading.

Even WFOE can do ICP since it has Chinese business license. Regarding REPRESENTATIVE OFFICE, if it has Chinese business license that will work too.

Can my consulting WFOE business license be used for my clients websites' ICP (multiple)?

My employer and the owner of the business is a Singapore corporation. The Singapore corporation is owned by a publicly owned US corporation. What should I provide for "Photo ID of business owner?" The "owner" is a corporation that is owned by another corporation that is owned by 1000s of shareholders.

Hi Misha,
My employer is a Singapore corporation that is owned by a U.S. publicly-owned corporation. What is the correct answer to "Photo ID of business owner" since the business owner is a corporation?

Thanks for reading.

    Photo ID of business owner can be a foreign national.

How do i display the ICP number. I saw that a lot of the Chinese webpages display them in the bottom, but when you click on the link you will be sent to the ICP webpage, or there will be photography of the license. Is that necessary?
What are the rules?

Hi Jens,

Usually people just add the license into the footer area like normal text content, such as 苏ICP备案xxxxxxxx号, or you can add a link that goes to ICP webpage http://www.miibeian.gov.cn/state/outPortal/loginPortal.action

ICP license is that number you have, there is no physical paperwork with license number on it.

Hi,

I obtained the domain from domain.com, which is outside of China. My company is hong kong based company however, I am planning to enter the china market, does it mean I need to apply another domain in China --> find a hosting provider in China, i.e. Baidu --> Apply for the ICP

Would being a Hong Kong based company an issue when applying for ICP?

Thank you.

Cindy Ng

Hi Cindy,

If you wanna host in mainland China, yes you will need ICP, but only doable by Chinese companies or Chinese citizens. If you already have a domain, you can transfer it to your new Chinese host though still, you need to get a Chinese company or Chinese citizen to obtain the ICP license then you will be able to host in mainland China.

ICP usually is applied via your Chinese hosting company, not on Baidu, not on MIIT directly.

Does an ICP licence expire? We're hosted in China and have just revamped our website. We're using the same ISP and domain name.

Thanks

Yes, it needs to be renewed yearly.
 

I was wrong, Sam's answer is right. :)
 
 

No expire date though MIIT may do spot check and may request to confirm weather your ICP info are all updated.

Hi,

We are a registered company and have been working there for many years and are established employers. We recently re-vamped our website and will be using the same server in China to host the site.
We have an ICP number already but are concerned that even if we are using the same domain name, our IP address may change and this may invalidate our current ICP number. Do you think this will be the case?
Also, might we be granted a grace period if this is the case?
If so, how long might this be?

Thank you

Thanks for reading!

Usually your server company should have a ICP platform you that you can manage your ICPs and infos, so if you are using the same server company, the same domain, but different IP with new website, just go to that ICP platform and edit your IP info to the new one, wont cause any problem, wont need to re-verify the ICP, wont get granted. I have consulted our hosting company and that`s their answer. And I checked our ICP platform, there is option to do so as well, should be pretty simple.

Though I am not sure what server company you using but most Chinese ones they have it.

Hope it helps!

Regards,

Hi, I have a WFOE in China (consulting company), we have our own cn-website with ICP license. Now we have a customer that is planning to sell its products in the Chinese market and they asked us whether we can apply for an ICP-license for them, so that they can set up their own cn-website. In other words, my WFOE in China will be the owner of the ICP-license of my customer. It is possible that we will also do this for other customers in the future. Do you think there's any risk if we do that?
Bart

Hi Bart,

Thanks for reading!

Apply Business ICP will request that your website`s content or business type should match your business area on your WFOE license.

I can not say yes or no to your question but if you help them do that then you will be fully responsible for your customer`s website content. Also, you may wanna consider if they stop the service with you, how to transfer the ICP or will they still be able to use the ICP that you helped them applied?

That`s all the questions I would have.

Hope it helps,

Best,

Hi,

I have e-commerce site with domain .com hosted outside of China. I would want to link our site with WeChat Official Account. Do I need ICP to do this?

Thank you.

Hi,

if you just want to add your WeChat posts or QR-Code on your website, it's OK. But if you want to add your website link in your WeChat posts, you need to get an ICP license first.

For a website that is hosted outside of mainland China, you can't get an ICP license. We have a team and company set up in mainland China, so we can apply the host in mainland China and the ICP license for your website.

If I buy a domain name .cn from one provider and my IP and website is hosted to another provider I have to fill ICP twice?

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