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Community Blog How to Get the ICP License in China

How to Get the ICP License in China

In this article, we will introduce to foreign companies and developers on how to get an ICP License in mainland China.

What is ICP?

If you host a website in Mainland China, on Alibaba Cloud or anywhere else, Chinese law requires that you obtain an ICP (Internet Content Provider) License and display it on your site.

If you don't obtain such license, or if you are found to be operating a site outside the terms of your certification, you risk being formally ordered to obtain one by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) or by your hosting provider. And, if you subsequently fail to comply with their request your site may be shut down without any notice.

As such, it is clear that not having an ICP license could cause unnecessary disruptions to your business, so the most reasonable decision is to apply for an ICP license as soon as you start working with Alibaba Cloud before you completely go through the process of hosting your sites or servers on Alibaba Cloud.

How to Get ICP License in China?

The ICP license application process can all be done completely online. For the foreseeable future, this website will be available only in Mandarin Chinese. Similarly, all documents must be submitted in Chinese as well.

However, despite a possible language barrier, we do not consider this as an obstacle. With some assistance from a Chinese-speaking colleague, agent, or through the support offered from Alibaba Cloud, we are sure that you'll be able to complete this process in no time. Have a look at the Alibaba Cloud ICP page to see what's involved in the process.

You can start work on the ICP license application process while your site is being developed or while you are in the process of setting up your server infrastructure on Alibaba Cloud. You do not need to wait for the ICP license before you purchase and commence development. Once your website has been approved for ICP registration, your website can go live.

Final approval from the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) is required for all ICP license applications. You will need to submit your PSB application once you have your ICP license number and within 30 days of your website going live.

There are two levels of ICP certification. These two levels related to whether your website is purely informational or if it is commercial, which means that you will be accepting digital payments for goods or services.

Regardless of whether your website is commercial or not, you need to apply for the first level, known as an ICP Filing. If your site is a commercial site, then you will also need to apply for an ICP Commercial License in addition to the ICP Filing.

Note that an ICP Commercial License is not granted to applicants that do not have a permanent legal business presence in Mainland China, so you will probably need to work with an established Chinese partner company if you need an ICP Commercial License.

Can I Run a Website Without an ICP License?

If your site is hosted in Mainland China, then you will need an ICP License and there is no way around this. However, if your company is relatively small and anticipated traffic levels in Mainland China are relatively low, you could consider hosting in Hong Kong, instead. By hosting in Hong Kong, you won't need to apply for an ICP License. Alibaba Cloud offers the choice of hosting in either region, so you can choose whichever one best suits your needs.

In a word, if you are primarily targeting the Mainland China market, hosting your site in China will naturally provide a better level of connectivity and reliability in Mainland China.

How Long Will ICP License Application Take?

The whole ICP License application process on average takes about 20 days to one month. The application process for an ICP Commercial License takes about 60 days or two months.

What Documents Will I Need For an ICP Filing?

Before you start the application process, you should prepare the necessary documents. For an ICP Filing, you will need the following items:

  • The business license of your company or the organization code. (This should be the code of your local branch company registered in China or from a resident representative organization in China. For further details, see Apply for an ICP Filing as a foreign enterprise)
  • A valid ID of the person in charge of the business office in China. (Mainland China citizens will need to submit a scan of their resident identity card.)
  • A valid ID of the person in charge of the websites (For this, Non-Mainland Chinese citizens will need to scan relevant pages of their passport, and Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan residents will need to scan their Mainland Travel Permit.)
  • Complete the real-time face identification verification.

All of the documents and forms submitted to the application must be completed in Chinese. English or any other language besides Mandarin Chinese is not accepted.

Does It Matter If My Domain Is Registered Outside China?

When you apply for your ICP number, you will need to supply a copy of your domain name's registration certificate. You can normally obtain this in printed form or as a download, from the company through which you registered the domain.

Domains registered in China include additional pertinent information in the registration certificate that is not offered by registrars in other countries. So, as a best practice, you should try to register to your domain name in China if possible. In addition, certain regions in China, including Beijing, require that your domain be registered in Mainland China in order to be eligible for ICP registration. If you haven't done this and the domain is already registered, consider transferring your domain name registration into a Chinese registry. Alibaba Cloud can help you with this. See Transfer-In for more information.

What Happens When I Get My ICP License Number?

Once you have been issued with your ICP License number, you need to display it in the footer of your website. Alibaba Cloud will be able to advise you on this. You also need to ensure that you keep the registration details up to date with MIIT. For example, if your webmaster changes, then you will need to supply the details of whoever takes over the role.

Conclusion

If you are operating a website that is hosted in Mainland China, or if you are considering doing so, you'll need to register for an ICP License. If you have not started the process of applying for one, then you should begin this process several months before your expected launch date.

Related Documentation

What is an ICP filing?

An Internet Content Provider (ICP) filing ensures compliance with the regulations in Measures for the Administration of Internet Information Services and Registration Administration Measures for Non-Commercial Internet Information Services. The People's Republic of China mandates an ICP filing system for non-commercial Internet information services and an ICP licensing system for commercial Internet information services. A website that has not obtained an ICP filing or ICP commercial license is prohibited from providing non-commercial or commercial Internet information services. Therefore, all websites that provide services to Mainland China must first obtain an ICP filing. You can apply for an ICP filing, modify ICP filing information, cancel an ICP filing, and claim an ICP filing in the Alibaba Cloud ICP Filing system.

Related Service

China ICP Registration Support

Learn how to obtain an ICP Filing or ICP Commercial License to host your website in Mainland China.

China ICP Filing Consulting Service

To deploy a website in Mainland China, applicants must first apply for an ICP Filing as required by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). Oftentimes, applicants run into issues due to complicated processes, language barriers, and strict requirements on supporting materials.
In order to ensure a hassle-free experience of completing the ICP filing, Alibaba Cloud has launched the ICP Filing Consulting Service. This service provides consultation on ICP rules, ICP processes, document preparation, and ICP submission, to help Alibaba Cloud customers complete the ICP filing seamlessly.

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