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) number and display it on your site.
If you don't obtain such a number, 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 number could cause unnecessary disruptions to your business, so the most reasonable decision is to apply for an ICP number 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.
The ICP application process can all be done completely online. You can enter the website from this link. 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 assistant 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. Also check out this document. We recommend that you also read this post so to give yourself a general overview of the entire process, so that you'll know what you'll need to submit a complete application.
You can start work on the ICP 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 number 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 applications. You will need to submit your PSB application once you have your ICP 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.
Yes and no. If your site is hosted in Mainland China, then you will need an ICP number 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 number. Alibaba Cloud offers the choice of hosting in either region, so you can choose whichever one best suits your needs.
With that said, 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.
Whether they are your servers or not doesn't make a difference. If you host content in Mainland China, then you need to obtain an ICP number even if the servers to host your content are not yours. So, systems that run on virtual servers, such as Alibaba Cloud ECS instances, need to have a corresponding ICP number, as do sites hosted on services such as Alibaba Cloud Web Hosting, or files hosted on a China-based Content Delivery Network (CDN) or Object Storage Service (OSS).
Before anything else, you should contact Alibaba Cloud. We will guide you through the various stages of the application process. The online application process begins at the ICP page.
You can also contact sales to get in touch with our ICP team.
Our team will gather the required information and documents from you. Then, we will submit these materials on your behalf. Nowadays this is all done through a simple application interface. The submission will be made to the local branch of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in the province or municipality where your business is registered, which is what the law requires.
The initial document check by our team normally only takes one to two days, and if any problems are found, you will be notified. Once everything is checked, your documents will go to the MIIT.
Confirmation of your submission and details of any problems found within your application will be sent by text message to the Mainland China mobile number you have provided. (Make sure you have a Chinese mobile number that you can provide and that you remember which number you provided.)
The whole application process for an ICP number on average takes about 20 days to one month. The application process for an ICP Commercial License takes about 60 days, or two months.
Before you start the application process, you should prepare the necessary documents. For an ICP Filing, you will need the following items:
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.
To complete the process you will need to download the Aliyun app. Note that only a Chinese version of the app is available. Make sure that you download the newest version of the app. You will upload your documents by scanning them into the app. Face registration can be completed in the app. For this, you should be in a well-lit room with a white wall, and your face should not be obstructed in anyway, such as by a hat, glasses or long bangs.
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.
Once you have been issued with your ICP 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.
So, in summary, 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 number. If you have not started the process of applying for one, then you should begin this process several months before your expected launch date.
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