Internet Content Provider (ICP) certification is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to certify a website domain to be hosted lawfully on a server of CDN located in Mainland China. This license is really important for the US and European companies willing to have a web presence in China.
China WFOE is not the ticket to China ICP license–
Foreign businesses will not get a legitimate Chinese hosting company that will allow them to put their website on their servers without the ICP certification. There is a common misconception among the foreign companies that having a China WFOE is their ticket to a China ICP license. According to the China tech lawyers, securing an ICP license has little connection with the China WFOE. Foreign companies may have to essentially start at square one on the ICP issue.
Two types of ICP licenses are issued by MIIT:
ICP Filing (for non-commercial websites) – Also known in Chinese as “ICP Bei’An”, an ICP filing is required for websites that are purely informational and do not engage in online retail activities. These numbers follow the format 京ICP备12345678 (in this example, “京” represents Beijing).
ICP License (for commercial websites) – Also known as “ICP Zheng” in Chinese, an ICP license is required for websites that engage in online retail activities. This license allows you to sell goods and accept online payment from users in Mainland China. These numbers follow the format 京ICP证12345678号 (in this example, “京” represents Beijing).
What Are The Steps To Get An ICP License?
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.
- Register a domain in China and buy a hosting plan.
- Get your Bei An service number.
- Register for the Aliyun ICP Management System.
- Log in to the Aliyun ICP Management System and fill out the registration form.
- Submit your documents for Aliyun’s approval.
- Submit a recent picture of yourself.
- Wait for MIIT to approve.
The risk of not having an ICP license–
Without the proper ICP registration, your domain runs the risk of being shut down and blacklisted by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) for not abiding the Chinese content laws.
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.