ICP License for a China-based Website: Why You Need It

Now more than ever is the time to get an ICP license and build a strong online presence in China. As life in China starts to normalize after the fight against COVID-19, companies should make a swift and decisive move on how to bring business back to normal as well. Chinese people who were forced to stay home are now back on their feet with their daily work and spending. Thus, companies can take advantage of this situation to rise to the challenge of achieving business growth amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read our previous post about China and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact on Economy

To optimize your online Chinese market reach, you will need to establish your website and register your domain to mainland China’s server. But it is not easy as you must obtain an ICP license to do so. This article will guide you through the process so keep on reading!

What does ICP stand offer and why you need a license?

 ICP stands for Internet Content Provider and an ICP license is issued by the Chinese government to run and operate your website in China LEGALLY. If you are into e-commerce, which typically has a huge potential in China market, an ICP license is like your ultimate gateway.

The best part? You will have access to a wider range of content delivery network in China and will avoid losing a potential customer due to slow-loading website.

Two types of ICP license


As it suggests, an ICP commercial license is intended for making online sales, advertising, and conducting online payments. Chinese-owned businesses and joint venture companies are allowed to obtain this type of license.

ICP filing

Bei’an (in Chinese) or ICP filing, on the other hand, is intended for non-commercial websites. Companies with this type of license are not looking to sell commercial products but are conducting other activities such as providing information to users.

Who can apply for an ICP license?

  • Chinese individual with a national ID
  • Foreign passport holders who are currently in China
  • Chinese-owned businesses
  • WFOE or Wholly Foreign-owned Enterprises or businesses
  • Joint Ventures (with more than 50 percent of Chinese ownership)

Foreigners who hold a passport but are not physically present in China can apply for an ICP license given the following conditions:

  • Have a Chinese landline and cell phone number
  • Registered to an Alipay account linked to an international credit card or other sources of payment
  • Can get a representative to assist with the application including accepting mails and materials or responses
  • Can speak and read Mandarin or have someone who can assist with language needs

ICP filing process

  1. Find a host, register your domain, and purchase hosting. Aliyun or Alibaba Cloud is the most popular hosting server company in China but it is only available in Chinese.
  2. Acquire your ICP service number from the Aliyun. You can obtain more than one ICP server number depending on how many domains and servers you register. However, the more domain and server, the costlier it gets.
  3. Submit your information to Alibaba Cloud ICP Filing System by logging in through their ICP application page. You will need copies of the required documents such as passport and business license.
  4. Aliyun will review your application and judge whether it is approved or rejected. Although, it will normally give you additional time to do any modifications.
  5. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is responsible for approving whether the hosting server can unlock your account or not.
  6. If approved, you will now be able to generate an ICP number and broadcast your website to Chinese consumers.

Things to remember

China’s MIIT evaluation depends on the provincial MIIT branch where you registered for your ICP license.

  •        Individual: Any location in China
  •        Business: Business license registered city or province

Both ICP license applicants should be aware of the unique regulations per city or province. You cannot even begin the process if you are not eligible to apply according to provincial policies. It is best to contact a local consultant.

Just as in most verification processes in China, taking a photo of you is essential and could sometimes be very meticulous. For those who are physically present in China during the application, each designated location has its way of getting an official photo. You just have to go there and take a picture of yourself.

However, for those who are outside China, Aliyun sends out a “mu bu” or an official curtain as a photo backdrop before taking your photo. The whole processing time depends on the waiting time for the approval of the provincial issuer. In Shanghai, it usually takes a much shorter time compared to other cities. It takes about ten days to get an ICP license.

Don’t have time?

Ditch the self-exhausting process and leave it on our team of IT experts. S.J. Grand can assist you with your ICP filing all the way to completion. What’s more? We can also build your company website and help you intensify your online presence with digital marketing insights.

Get in touch with our team or comment below if you need an ICP license as soon as possible. Also, visit our Professional IT Services page to check and avail of our various Cloud solution services.If you want to know more about doing business in China, contact our team for consultation and assistance. Follow us on social media to get the latest news!

Our experienced team has the necessary expertise and the know-how to support you with your business – have a look at the services we offer.

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