What is an ICP license? Types & Requirements

Posted by , Last modified by on 21 April 2020 16:49

An Internet Content Provider license (or ICP license) is a Chinese license, which must be applied for at the local Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), so that a website can be hosted on a server in China. Websites that do not have a valid ICP license or do not display the corresponding ICP number visibly on the website will be completely blocked after a short period of time.

A valid ICP license is often also required to use the services of providers in China, such as the search engine advertising counterpart to Google Ads, which is called Baidu Tuiguang.

The ICP certification is divided into two stages: ICP Filing (also referred to as ICP registration, ICP Bei'An, ICP备案 or non-commercial ICP license) and the Commercial ICP license (also referred to as ICP Zheng, ICP经营许可证 or E-Commerce ICP). Unfortunately, the term "ICP license" is often used as a synonym for both of these ICP types, although it is actually more of a generic term.

ICP Filing (ICP registration, ICP Bei'An, ICP备案)

ICP Filing is the first level of ICP certification and must be applied for for all websites, regardless of whether they are only information sites or commercial websites.

Once you are in possession of a valid ICP Filing license, you are allowed to host a purely informal website on servers in China. However, you are not allowed to integrate commercial functions (e.g. online payment methods); for this you need a Commercial ICP license.

The legal basis for ICP Filing are the "Administrative Measures on Internet Information Services" (互联网信息服务管理办法) and the "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 came into force on March 20, 2005.

Requirements & Required Information

In order to apply for ICP Filing, you first need a company headquarters in China. This can be your own company subsidiary or a trustworthy sales partner to whom the Chinese website is then registered. You will then need the following information:

  • Exact company name, address and telephone number of your Chinese company
  • Chinese verification document from your Chinese company. This can either be a Chinese business license (营业执照(个人或企业)) or a registration certificate of resident representative office of foreign (region) enterprise in China (外国(地区)企业常驻代表机构登记证). The organization code certificate (组织机构代码证), which was accepted until 2017, can no longer be submitted for this purpose.
  • name, mobile phone number, e-mail address and valid proof of identity of the legal representative of the Chinese company (does not necessarily have to be a Chinese citizen)
  • name, telephone number, mobile phone number, e-mail address and valid proof of the identity of the person responsible for the website (must be a Chinese citizen)
  • mobile phone number of the website emergency contact (must be a Chinese mobile phone number and has to be registered in the province of the companies headquarter)
  • photo of the person responsible for the website against a special background with specific lettering of the hosting provider (this will generally be provided by the hosting provider), IP address, ISP, server location (usually provided by your hosting provider)
  • IP address, internet service provider, location of the server (usually obtained from your hosting provider)
  • list of domains under which the website will be accessible
  • all domains must be registered through a Chinese domain registrar

Applying for ICP Filing

The application for ICP Filing can usually be completed entirely online. Depending on the hosting provider, there is a separate interface for this purpose, via which you can submit your information. Depending on the hosting provider and the province where your Chinese company is located, there may be other regulations or forms that need to be taken into consideration. All information must be submitted in Chinese. If you decide to use the hosting and server solutions of WEBER.cloud China, we will assist you in applying for your ICP Filing.

The competent provincial authority of the MIIT will generally need between 5 and 20 working days to process the submitted documents. If there are any queries about the documents or if they contain errors, you will usually be notified within the first few days following submission. You will then need to correct and resubmit the documents.

The process also requires an SMS verification. We have put together a detailed list of the procedure for you in our article on the SMS verification so that you can complete it smoothly.

Issuing of the ICP Filing

After approval of your ICP application, the specified persons will receive information about it via SMS and e-mail. This includes, among other things, the ICP number and the password for the ICP Filing, which is needed to make any changes to the stored information in future.

The ICP number has the format 沪ICP备12345678号. The first character indicates the province in which the ICP Filing was requested (in this case 沪 for Shanghai). The character 备 indicates that this is an ICP Filing. This is followed by a unique 8-digit number followed by the character 号, which simply means "number".

Beispielhafter Eintrag einer ICP Lizenz beim MIIT

Integration of the ICP number

According to Article 13 of the "Administrative Measures for the recording of non-operating Internet Information Services", upon receipt of the ICP Filing, the associated ICP number must be visibly placed in the footer of the website and linked to the MIIT's website. The domain of the MIIT website changed on April 25, 2019, and the website has since been accessible at beian.miit.gov.cn.

Commercial ICP license, ICP Zheng, ICP经营许可证

The Commercial ICP license extends the ICP Filing with the permission to run commercial websites such as online shops or other websites with commercial functions on a server in China.

Requirements & Required Information

In addition to the requirements for the ICP Filing you will also need:

  • A list of shareholders (at least 51% of the shares must be in Chinese ownership)
  • proof of company capital of at least RMB 1,000,000
  • business development plan and related technical solutions

Compared to the ICP Filing, only part of the process can be completed online for the Commercial ICP license. As a rule, the legal representative or an authorized Chinese employee must visit the respective provincial office of the MIIT for the license to be issued. If you decide to use the hosting and server solutions of WEBER.cloud China, we will assist you in applying for your Commercial ICP license.

The corresponding ICP number has the same format as the ICP entry, 沪ICP证12345678号, and differs only in the 5th position with the character 证, which indicates that it is a Commercial ICP license.

After receiving the ICP license: Registration with the Public Security Bureau (PSB Filing)

The ICP application is not yet complete with the receipt of the ICP Filing or the Commercial ICP license. Since 2016, you must register with the Public Security Bureau (PCB) within 30 days of receiving your ICP license ...
» More about the PSB Filing

Do you have further questions?

Then visit our FAQ section or send us a message using the comment function at the bottom of this page - we will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have.

Hosting and servers from WEBER.cloud China

 Presentaton of the ICP application by the MIIT, translated by www.webercloud-china.com.pdf (768.23 KB)
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