Do you need an ICP license for your website in China?


ICP means Internet Content Provider. If you are considering expanding your business in China by setting up a website, it is necessary for you to know what ICP record and ICP license is, and whether your website needs them.
 
1. What is ICP record and ICP license?
Screenshot from http://www.wahaha.com.cn/ & https://www.baidu.com/
 
ICP Record:
ICP Record is putting your website or domain on file, that is, an identity verification that makes the domain pointed to the site. Following identity verification, the system will automatically generate an ICP record number in the format of province+ICP备+number. The ICP record number usually includes a single character indicating the Chinese province in which the license was issued, then the word "ICP备(License)", then the number itself and it will be displayed at the bottom of the site pages. 
ICP License:
ICP license is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to permit China-based websites to operate in China. It’s illegal for a commercial website to operate without acquiring an ICP license. The format of the number is the same as ICP record number, also can be found at the bottom of the site pages.
 
2. What kind of website need ICP record or ICP license 
 
ICP Record:
All the websites that hosted in Mainland China are compulsorily required to file ICP. If your site is hosted at Hong Kong or overseas, then ICP record is not required. For websites hosted in Mainland China ICP should be filed, with the merits of stable and fast-speed visits for Chinese visitors, and being beneficial to both UE and SEO. 
If your website launches advertisement on Baidu or other local search engines, it must be ICP filed. With the ICP record, if something wrong occurred on your website, it would be easier and quicker to solve. But without the record, the site might be blocked for possibility of delivering illegal information.
 ICP License:
All commercial websites operating in China must acquire ICP licenses, otherwise it is illegal. One of the basic features of a commercial website is to acquire orders and sales leads through site operation. The ICP license can play a protective role for the website, site name and domain name.
 
3. How to apply for ICP record and ICP license
 
 ICP Record: 
Submit documents on ICP record system through your host service provider, who will ask for the required documents from you. The documents may include business license, scanned copy of Domain Certificate, the photo and ID copy of the holder, etc. After submission, it usually takes 20 working days for review. 
 ICP License:
The most efficient way to apply for a ICP license is also through the hosting provider. The two important prerequisites are:
1. Your registered capital is more than 1 million RMB, and the company should be a domestic enterprise. 
At present, according to the relevant laws and regulations, foreign-funded enterprises can not apply for ICP licenses. If a foreign enterprise want to enter the e-commerce market, they can try to  cooperate with domestic funded enterprises, because Joint ventures can apply for ICP license according to latest national policies;
2. The website should pass the ICP record review. Websites cannot apply for ICP license without ICP record. 
Required documents including: ICP record registration form, site information, company information, copy of business license, copy of the artificial person’s ID. After submission, it usually takes 60 working days for review.