In this article we will explain why you need an ICP license to promote your business and product in China and how to get it.
ICP license is a permission to host your website in China issued by MIIT (Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology), which regulates value-added telecommunication services in China. Without this license, no official Chinese hosting provider would allow you to host your website on the Chinese server.
Therefore, if you do not have an ICP license, you will not be able to promote your business on the Chinese market through the website within the Chinese Internet space.
An ICP license number usually looks like "京 ICP 备 04000001 号". You can see ICP license numbers at the bottom of the web page.
ICP stands for Internet Content Provider. ICP license, thus, is related to regulation of both Chinese Internet companies and international businesses whose activities are based on the content delivery network. According to Chinese Law on information in the Internet space, content providers who publish information on the Internet can be divided into two main types, including commercial and non-commercial.
Accordingly, depending on the category of services provided by content providers, there are different types of license to publish and promote information services on the Chinese market. ICP licenses in China include commercial ICP license (ICP is a Chinese entity or foreign company) and ICP filing (ICP is an individual or company that obtains purely informational websites).
Why does the Chinese government support ICP certification? ICP certification is a part of the Great Firewall which allows the authorities to control the Internet in China and Chinese nationals’ behavior.
If you do not have an ICP license, you may face the following problems. On the one hand, your website may be blocked in mainland China and you will not be able to work with it. On the other hand, there is a chance that your website will load in China, but the loading speed will be very slow, which can negatively affect the user experience and will not give you any competitive advantage.
So, if you want to promote your website in China and successfully attract Chinese customers, you should know about the potential opportunities you can obtain after getting an ICP license.
First of all, your website will be better indexed in Chinese search engines, such as Baidu – the largest and most popular Chinese search engine. Obtaining the license allows you to use mainland China domain name (".cn"), which improves SEO and credibility of your web sources.
In addition, ICP certification applies to different types of Internet content, including not only websites, but also apps and games. Therefore, if you want to promote your app in China and officially distribute it on one of the popular local app stores, an ICP license will help you do so.
Thus, obtaining an ICP license is a significant competitive advantage that will make your website more visible and credible in mainland China and allow you to use it to promote your business in China.
ICP license is reliable, but it is not the only way to increase the loading speed of your website in China. Many websites targeted at Chinese users are hosted in Hong Kong and load as fast as sites hosted in mainland China. However, it should be noted that Hong Kong hosting may not be sufficient for heavy websites.
First of all, you can avoid getting an ICP license by focusing on other promotional channels. Nowadays, official accounts on Weibo or WeChat can replace a website, and Chinese users often use social networks to check information about brands and their products.
In addition, if your company sells products in China through e-commerce business services, you can use popular Chinese marketplaces such as Tmall, Taobao, JD, and so on. Today, Chinese e-commerce marketplaces offer various options, from cross-border logistics to advertising opportunities.
However, if your marketing strategy in China is based on an omni-channel approach, for example, you want to use SEO and attract traffic to your website, ICP license is crucial. Undoubtedly, a well localized Chinese website, indexed by Chinese search engines, will help increase the credibility and image of your brand in China.
First, you need to register a domain name and purchase hosting for your website. It is very important that your domain name and hosting are related to mainland China. Therefore, you should use a local hosting provider. The most popular is AliCloud (Aliyun), whose services can help you prepare all the necessary Internet infrastructure to apply for an ICP license.
When you fill in your data for an ICP application form, you can do it through the AliCloud account. Then you will receive a service number that combines the IP of your computer, a domain name and a prepared ICP filing application or commercial ICP license application. This number will be bound to the purchased server.
After registering in Aliyun ICP management system, you need to provide a lot of information to successfully prepare ICP filing application forms or the same for commercial ICP. license. It includes ICP Bei An number, domain name, the region you are registering from, a type of ICP license, company business license (for commercial ICP license) and other details.
Of course, Aliyun provides a pre-approval service to verify that your application is correct. Once approved, the application is submitted to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Then it is finally reviewed by the Public Security Bureau: it confirms that the applicant's business is not related to criminal or illegal activities. On average, the entire ICP application process takes 3-6 weeks.
This type of license, also known as ICP Zheng, is required for Internet content providers who are interested in generating revenue by operating websites and other Internet activities related to online business within the Chinese Internet space.
For example, this license is required for the following business areas:
Websites offering any commercial options (e-commerce, payment, etc.)
Games and other applications, including in-app payments or advertising
Software-as-a-platform (SaaS) related services, etc.
ICP Filing (also known as ICP Recordal or ICP Beian) is another type of legal requirement for hosting your website in mainland China. It is required for non-commercial websites within the Chinese Internet space. Passing the ICP filing application process guarantees that such sites will remain stable. Therefore, if you want to generate income from your website in China, you should focus on obtaining an ICP Commercial License.
Today, there are different requirements for obtaining an ICP license, depending on the type of license a company or individual wants to obtain.
Business: Chinese-owned businesses or foreign businesses (joint venture, foreign-owned company)
An individual who has a Chinese ID (they can obtain an individual ICP filing - 个人备案)
Foreign passport holders who live in China and meets the basic registration requirements in China (this category is also related to obtaining individual ICP filing)
A foreign business with a joint venture structure in which at least 51% of the capital is owned by a Chinese company with a Chinese business license
A wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) with a Chinese business license
A Chinese-owned company with a Chinese business license
There are situations where a company or individual may not be eligible for an ICP license. It can be relevant for both obtaining an ICP commercial license and ICP filing.
For example, if the proportion of foreign investment in a joint venture is less than 50%, it is likely that an ICP license will not be issued to the company.
Besides, a foreign national who is not currently resident in China may also face difficulties in obtaining an ICP filing. If a foreign citizen is not physically present in China, then it is necessary to additionally correspond to different requirements such as obtaining a Chinese landline and cell phone number, having a representative in China, etc.
Therefore, it is important to review and monitor Chinese legislation in order to avoid time costs associated with obtaining an ICP license.
Language barrier: If you do not speak Chinese, it will be difficult to prepare the necessary documents to apply for an ICP license and start the application process.
Payment options: International payment systems are not popular in China. There are local payment systems such as Alipay that Chinese people prefer to use, while paying with an international credit card may be uncomfortable for your counterparts in China.
Application requirements: There are a lot of different rules that you have to comply with, it is also related to the changes in the Chinese legislation.
Domain registration problems: Companies often do not register a domain for a Chinese office, but for the parent company overseas. In this case, a company must wait to make changes or purchase a new domain.
All in all, the ICP numbers do not only decorate the bottom of your page. Registration of ICP license and obtaining a unique ICP number is important if you are going to develop an omnichannel marketing strategy for more effective promotion of your business and make online sales through Chinese websites. If you need to know more about ICP license and ways to require it, contact us and we will be glad to answer your questions.
Without a Chinese domain certificate and hosting you can not effectively use your website for promotion in China. In order to host your website on an origin server in mainland China you need a unique ICP license number which confirms your business activities are legal.
Yes, both Chinese and foreign companies must have an ICP license in China to make revenues from a website.
ICP filing is related to non-commercial activities in China. For example, ICP filing is necessary if you need to host only informational websites in China. ICP license is also important for businesses who want to develop and promote commercial websites, in this case it is necessary to obtain an ICP commercial license.
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