ICP license & PSB Filing: Questions & Answers

Posted by , Last modified by Marc Füßlein on 08 February 2024 17:17

How long does it take to apply for an ICP license?

The time required to obtain an ICP license depends on how many other requests are currently being processed by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Provided that the submitted data is complete and correct, you should generally receive your ICP Filing within five to twenty working days. The duration for applying for a Telecommunications License varies depending on the associated category and can take several months.

Does the location of my company play a role in the ICP application?

Yes, because your ICP application will be processed via the MIIT provincial office in the province where the headquarters of your Chinese company are located. Each province also has different regulations when applying for an ICP license, but these generally do not fundamentally change the process.

Can I start running my website in China during the ICP application?

No, this is not possible. You may not operate your website in China until you have received the corresponding ICP license. With most hosting providers in China, the common Internet ports are also simply blocked as long as you do not have an ICP license.

Nevertheless, in order to submit the ICP application, the desired domain must already have been registered and the hosting solution in China must have been purchased in China. Both are required in order to be able to submit all necessary documents for the application.

When can I launch my website in China?

Once you have received a ICP license and have placed the corresponding ICP number in the footer of your website, you may officially operate your website in China and make it publicly available. Please note, however: After receiving your ICP license, you have to perform the PSB Filing PSB Filing process within 30 days, for which your website must already be publicly accessible.

What happens if I run a website in China without the necessary ICP license?

After a short period of time, your domain and IP address will be blacklisted and blocked by the Chinese state without notice. Even if you get the necessary ICP license afterwards, it is extremely difficult to get the domain and IP address off the blacklist again. We therefore strongly recommend that you do not take this risk under any circumstances, and submit the necessary ICP application in advance.

Where can I find more information about applying for an ICP license?

The official website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) can be accessed at beian.miit.gov.cn. Since all information there is only available in Chinese, we have translated the MIIT presentation on the ICP application process into English as a service. We would of course also be more than happy to assist with applying for an ICP license.

How can I find out if a company/website has an ICP license?

At beian.miit.gov.cn/#/Integrated/recordQuery you can search through the corresponding ICP database of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China. However, the website is only available in Chinese.

To perform the query, you can use the search bar at the top of the site. You can enter the address of the website (your-selected-name.com) or the name of the company. After you submit the request, you have to solve an image puzzle, where you have to drag the slider to the right until the piece covers the missing part of the image. After that, you will have to wait about 2-5 seconds until it is validated.

As soon as everything is ok, you can see the result in the lower area of the screen. On the right side, you can then click a button to show more details of the result.

I have registered a Chinese domain with a provider/registrar in Europe. Can I apply for an ICP license for this domain?

No, that is no longer possible. When applying for an ICP license, you must use a domain that is registered through a Chinese registrar. This is verified by the competent authorities as part of the application process. The weber.cloud China hosting solutions each already include the domain registration or domain transfer of your own .com.cn-.cn-, .com- or .asia-domain via our Chinese partner registrar. If you have any questions or need assistance with the domain registration itself, please feel free to contact us.

Which domains can I use to apply for an ICP license?

When applying for an ICP license, the domains are subject to several restrictions, which are constantly being tightened. In principle, no domain names that violate Chinese laws or Chinese censorship are allowed. In addition, since 2021, the domain name may no longer contain the word "china". The registration or transfer of such a domain to a Chinese domain registrar will be rejected by the central Chinese domain registry CNNIC. The CNNIC justifies this with a reference to Article 28 Paragraph 3 of the legal text "Measures for the Administration of Internet Domain Names" (互联网域名管理力法). While this section does not explicitly prohibit the use of the word "china" in domain names, the wording is vague enough to allow the necessary latitude for interpretation with which certain words can be prohibited in domain names.

Domains which contain the word "china" and for which an ICP license already exists are initially not affected by the new regulation. However, the domain can no longer be transferred because the associated name verification by the CNNIC will fail. In the worst case, this can mean that the domain cannot be used with the new or the old domain registrar, the ICP license becomes invalid, the Chinese website has to be taken offline and a new ICP license for a valid domain is necessary.

In addition to the restrictions for the domain name, not all domain extensions are allowed either. Only generic top-level domains (TLDs) such as .com or .asia and the Chinese top-level domain (.*).cn are available. Other country-specific top-level domains (ccTLDs) such as .us, .uk or .fr cannot be used to apply for an ICP license. We have compiled a list of all permitted domain extensions for you.

We therefore recommend that you use and register a separate .com.cn or .cn domain for your Chinese website, especially without the word "china" in the domain name. You are welcome to register directly with us and our Chinese registrar - please contact us for details. By the way, all of our weber.cloud China hosting solutions already include the registration/transfer of a .com.cn, .cn, .com or .asia domain for your Chinese website via our Chinese registrar partner.

Can a subdomain also be used to apply for an ICP license?

The application for an ICP license is always only possible with a main domain, which is why an application with only a subdomain is not possible.

However, subdomains can be operated within the valid ICP license of the main domain without having to update the ICP license. For example, after a valid ICP license has been issued for the domain "your-selected-name.com", the subdomains "marketplace.your-selected-name.com" or "expo.your-selected-name.com" can also be operated within this ICP license. However, the scope of validity of the current ICP license must of course be taken into account: The operation of an online marketplace, where third parties can sell products like on eBay or Amazon, via the subdomain "shop.your-selected-name.com", for example, would only be possible if a valid commercial ICP license exists for the main domain. Otherwise, this would not be allowed.

It should also be noted that if a website or similar is operated under the subdomain, this subdomain must also be taken into account and included in the PSB filing. However, this only applies if the subdomain contains its own website or web application. If, on the other hand, only static files, such as images, are delivered, this subdomain doesn't have to and shouldn't be included in the PSB filing.

Do I have to display my ICP number on my website?

Yes, according to Article 12 of the "Administrative Measures on Internet Information Services", the ICP number must be placed on all pages of your website in the footer and must also link to the MIIT website at beian.miit.gov.cn. This must be done within three days after you receive the ICP license.

If you do not display your ICP number on your website, it may be blocked by the Chinese government without warning and your ICP license may be revoked pursuant to Article 22 of the "Administrative Measures on Internet Information Services". Furthermore, this can be sanctioned with a fine.

My ICP number is 沪ICP备12345678号-1. How do I need to place it on my website?

The ICP number must be placed on all pages of your website in the footer and must also link to the MIIT website at beian.miit.gov.cn.

It is important to note that your ICP number is actually '沪ICP备12345678号'. The appendix "-1" says that this is the first entry of your ICP filing. In principle, several websites can be added to an ICP filing and these will then get the appendixes '-2', '-3', etc. However, the appendix itself is not part of the actual ICP number and must not be displayed on the footer of your website.

To apply for an ICP license I need a domain certificate. How do I get one of these?

The domain certificate can be issued by the domain registrar with whom you have registered the domain. It is important that you have registered the domain with a Chinese registrar, otherwise the domain is not eligible to apply for an ICP license, and the license cannot be issued. All of our weber.cloud China hosting solutions already include the registration/transfer of a .com.cn-.cn-, .com- or .asia-domain for your Chinese website via our Chinese registrar partner.

I am supposed to complete an SMS verification as part of the ICP application. How can I complete this successfully?

In order to successfully complete the SMS verification, there are several points to consider. You can find a detailed list of the procedure in our article about the SMS verification.

Is my website in China really that slow? Can I check this?

Yes, you can do a speed test from China. The biggest hurdle here, however, is the fact that the websites are usually in Chinese. However, you can use Google Chrome as a browser, for example, and have the website translated in each case.

One possibility for such a speed test is available https://www.17ce.com/. First enter the domain name of the website you want to test in the input field within the blue box and press the Enter key. Please note: The speed test checks the entered URL exactly and does not follow any redirects.

The speed test will then start and the table below will slowly fill up with values. As soon as the speed test is finished, you will also receive a map of China at the top of the website with the individual provinces and details on how well or poorly your website can be accessed from each province. The colors used are quite intuitive: green is good, red is bad. Grey means that your website could not be accessed at all from this province or that the measuring point is currently unavailable.

My website should only be accessible via an IP address. Do I still need an ICP license?

Yes, because in China you generally need an ICP license if you want to publish content on a website. It does not matter whether your website can only be accessed via an IP address or also via domains.

My company has no registered office in China. Is hosting in Hong Kong, Macao or similar sufficient to achieve fast load times for our website in China?

Hosting in a location close to China, e.g. in Hong Kong, Macao, or Taiwan, has the advantage that you do not need an ICP license. But from a performance point of view it only reduces packet transmission times by a few milliseconds. The data packets must still pass through the Chinese firewall and China's overloaded external connections, which slow down the data transfer enormously and thus cause unbearable load times for Chinese users.

If, for example, you cannot obtain an ICP license as you do not have a registered office in China, we recommend hosting in Europe with a direct connection to China at weber.cloud China. With this hosting solution you can greatly improve the performance of your website even without an ICP license, as we can reach the Chinese mainland and users in China with good performance through our direct lines to China. More than is possible with a typical hosting solution on China's external borders.

Can I use a third-party ICP license to operate my website in China?

The sharing of ICP licenses via so-called ICP proxy providers is in a risky "grey area" from a legal perspective - even with a rather generous interpretation of the Chinese laws. There is always the possibility that the ICP license will be revoked, which means your domain in China will be put on a blacklist. What is more, when sharing an ICP license with an ICP proxy provider, if one of the users of this shared ICP license violates Chinese laws, all co-user websites will also be blocked.

Once your domain is on this blacklist, it is extremely difficult to have it removed again. Especially if it was previously only operated based on a questionable legal situation.

Furthermore, you must transfer your domain name to the ICP proxy provider, which means you also lose all rights to your domain under civil law.

Our recommendation is therefore to refrain from using such ICP proxy providers and, if you cannot apply for an ICP license yourself, to consider hosting in Europe with a direct connection to China at weber.cloud China In addition, you also significantly improve the performance of your website in China and are not exposed to the risk of your domain being blocked in China or even losing your domain completely.

My ICP application has been approved. What do I have to do now?

After receiving your ICP license, there are two deadlines that you should comply with. Firstly, within three days you must place your ICP license number in the footer of your Chinese website and link it to the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology at beian.miit.gov.cn Once you have done this, you may officially launch your website in China and make it publicly available.

Secondly, you must register for PSB Filing (PSB registration, also PSB Bei'An or psb备案) with the Public Security Bureau (PBS) within 30 days. As the processing of the PSB Filing also takes three to five working days, we strongly recommend that you start the PSB Filing process as soon as possible after receiving your ICP license. We have summarized everything you need to know about PSB Filing in our article on the PSB Filing.

How long is my ICP licence with the associated ICP number valid?

At present, there is no time restriction on the validity of the ICP license set by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. As soon as an ICP license has been issued, it is valid for an unlimited period of time. Only the violation of the Chinese laws can lead to the withdrawal of the ICP license.

In particular, you are obliged to keep the data stored in your ICP license up to date. If your company in China changes its name, if the management changes or if the person responsible for the website leaves the company, you must update these information immediately. The legal texts "Administrative Measures on Internet Information Services" (互联网信息服务管理办法) and "Administrative Measures for the recording of non-operating Internet Information Services" (非经营性互联网信息服务备案管理办法), which form the legal basis for the ICP filing, specify that updates must be made 30 days in advance. Experience shows that this is not yet strictly controlled. Nevertheless, the ICP information should be updated as soon as possible, since in individual cases the ICP license may be revoked.

I have forgotten my ICP password. How can I reset this?

Since September 2020, when the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) made a change in the ICP update process, the ICP password is no longer required to update the ICP licence. Instead, an SMS verification is now used in the new process.

What do I have to consider after receiving the PSB Filing?

You're almost there! Use your account to log in to the Public Security Bureau website again at https://beian.mps.gov.cn/ and check the details of your PSB Filing (PSB registration, also known as PSB Bei'An or psb备案). In the upper part of the overview you can see the associated filing number and download the icon of the PSB as well as sample HTML code for embedding the filing number on your website. Using this sample code, you should place your PSB Filing number next to the ICP number on your Chinese website. You can easily modify the sample code; the only important thing is that the PSB icon is displayed to the left of the PSB number and that both of them point to your filing in the public register of the Public Security Bureau at "https://beian.mps.gov.cn/#/query/webSearch?code=[filing number]".

Why does the PSB website at beian.gov.cn no longer exist?

In November 2023, the Public Security Bureau overhauled its website including the management of the PSB filings. Since the change, the website has moved from beian.gov.cn to https://beian.mps.gov.cn/.

The PSB website also uses new account management. Access to the old account through which your PSB filing was managed is no longer possible. Instead, you must register a new account. However, don’t throw away your old login credentaisl just yet! After logging in via the new account, you have the option of linking the previous PSB filing with the new account. To do this, you will need the username and password from the old account one last time.

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