How to launch your business in China: the initial step to host your web portals
There’s no denying that with the current economic climate there is a big opportunity for Western organizations and companies to expand their business in the People’s Republic of China. There’s a huge potential of 400 million online consumers on this market. In this digital age, doing business shortens distances and ignores timezones as well as it opens the gates for new opportunities in the land of ‘Dragons’.
However, there’s a tightly regulated digital border to conquer, also known as the Great Firewall of China. With the ever-increasing difficulty to gain access to the country, and communication services being blocked (e.g. Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, Gmail, Twitter). It’s a great challenge to reach the Chinese population within that barrier. The Great Firewall monitors tracks and censors internet content 24/7. To get access within these borders certain steps are needed to take for western companies, this article will explain how.
Use ICP to conquer the Firewall of China
ICP is an abbreviation of Internet Content Provider. ICP license is a registration number that issued by MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) to allow a website’s operation in a mainland Chinese server. ICP registration is a mandatory legal requirement set by Chinese Government in terms of preventing the illegal online operation and content diffusion. If a website does not register for an ICP filling number in China, it will be blocked and being blacklisted by MIIT.
Different types of the ICP licenses
- ICP Filling (Bei’an in Chinese)
ICP filing is the first level of the ICP registration, and applicants must apply for. It can only be used for informational purposes and not for generating direct revenue. An ICP Filing takes approximately 20 standard working days to process.
- ICP commercial license (Zheng in Chinese)
This is another type of ICP license for companies who intend to generate income through publishing information, advertise, set up e-mail accounts, conduct business activities, and provide a platform for others to perform such activities through a website and linked domain name structure hosted in Mainland China are required to apply for an ICP Commercial License. It should be noted that, before applying for an ICP license, you must first obtain a valid ICP Filing number.
*The PSB filling number is required by the legislation of Public Security Bureau (PSB), which need to apply within 30days of receiving the ICP registration number
Why do you need an ICP?
An ICP license is a mandatory step for foreign companies who are wishing to host their website in Mainland China. Without an ICP license, you will not be eligible for China-based web hosting and CDN services. There are risks that your website will be blocked and blacklisted if you don’t have the ICP license in Mainland China.
Requirements of the ICP application
To apply for an ICP license you must:
- have a registered business in China with a Chinese business license*
- manage your application by a Chinese web hosting provider
- have a Chinese bank account
- have a Chinese phone number
- have a Chinses address that can receive the posting packages
- have a Chinese speaker to help with reading and filling the registration forms
*for foreign companies to apply for an ICP license are Partially or wholly foreign-owned (non-Chinese) businesses with any type of Chinese business license. For example, Joint-Venture partnership, Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) or a Representative Office (RO).
Required documents/materials for the ICP licenses application
For ICP Filing *
- Website domain name certificate
- Copy of Passport and Temporary Residence / Residency Permit of the owner of the website/ business
- Photo ID of the Webmaster in charge of the website (must be a Chinese national) with an official backdrop
- Completed and signed ICP application form (downloaded from web provider website)
- Completed and signed Authenticity Verification Form issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology(MIIT)
- Certification of a China-registered business with company seal
- Chinese mobile number of Webmaster
*Note: Application material requirements may also differ according to the provincial government branch of MIIT that you are applying to. Applicants must apply in the province where their business is registered.
For ICP commercial license (additional document)
- Proof of 100 million RMB in minimum registered company capital
Special requirements for certain industries
For the internet information service of news, publishing, education, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, cultures, television broadcasting and shows, the internet content providers need an approval from respective relevant authorities before applying for an ICP license in China.
Applications for gaming websites require additional certification in the form of a ‘Business License of Internet Culture’.
How long does it take for the application process?
An ICP license takes approximately 20 standard working days to process after successfully submitting all required documents to a hosting provider.
It is important to apply for the Public Security Bureau (PSB) filing within 30days of receiving the ICP registration number. This is required by the government's legislation. All of the documents of the PSB application need to be in Chinese.
If you’d like to know more about ICP licenses, please feel free to contact our consultant Hosting & Security Bas Greevink.