China ICP License Guide: Register your Apps and Mini Programs by March 2024!

TMO GroupFebruary 23, 2024
China ICP License Guide: Register your Apps and Mini Programs by March 2024!

As announced by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), from September 2023, all new apps and mini-programs must obtain an ICP permit in China before they can be listed in App Stores within the country.

For existing apps that have already been listed and conduct business in China, the “Notice on the Registration of Mobile Internet Applications” marks the end of March 2024 as the deadline for completing the ICP registration procedures, or else they may no longer be accessible from Mainland China.

With about 40 days to complete ICP registration for existing apps & mini-programs before the Supervision and Inspection stage begins, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding ICP filing and license requirements. If you need assistance with the process, you can also inquire about our ICP registration services in China!

China ICP Registration: FAQs

1. What are ICP Licenses and Filings in China?

An Internet Content Provider (ICP) Registration is a permit issued by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, that allows websites to operate in China. The requirement for ICP registration has been in place since 2000 with the Decree of Measures for the Administration of Internet Information Services. There are two types of ICP permits:

  1. Non-commercial ICP Filings (ICP备案 or ICP bei’an) are required for informational websites and websites selling their own physical products (e.g. a trading or retail company that owns the product licenses). These can be obtained by a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) in China.
  2. Commercial ICP Licenses (ICP证 or ICP zheng) are required for websites that sell services–including digital products or physical products from multiple merchants. These can only be obtained by (1) 100% Chinese Companies or (2) Joint Ventures where foreign investment does not exceed 50%.

In order to promote better internet development and help crack down on telecommunications and internet fraud, the MIIT now requires apps or mini-programs to also comply with ICP Filings.

2. What’s the deadline for completing ICP registration for existing apps?

Apps or mini-programs conducting business before the release of the notice are required to complete filing procedures with the provincial communication authority where they operate by the end of March 2024.

From April through June 2024, the competent telecommunication authority will enter the stage of supervision and inspection of the filing situation, and dispose of apps that still have not fulfilled the procedures in accordance with the Law. According to WeChat’s official notice, starting April 1 the platform will start carrying out mini-program clearance for overdue filings.

3. How can I complete ICP registration for my app?

To register your app, keep in mind that you must first complete ICP Filing (ICP bei’an). Applicants can fill in the Internet Information Services Registration Form which can be downloaded at the bottom of the official notice and submit it alongside a letter of commitment to MIIT’s Government Service Platform.

In the application form, you will have to provide information such as company name and certificate, representative’s ID and contact information, as well as your app’s and Internet Service Provider details. For specific services and lines of business, you may also be required to provide additional documentation.

4. Where can mini-programs and “Quick Apps” complete ICP filing?

Mini-programs and Quick Apps are run by operating platforms to perform filing procedures on behalf of the organizers. Several platforms such as Baidu and WeChat have provided guidelines and channels for mini-program filing.

5. Having previously handled the website filing, do I have to do it again now?

The app registration portal continues to use the original ICP filing information. For those who have completed the website registration procedures, you’ll only need to supplement and complete the relevant information of your app and do not need to re-submit your information filing.

6. I do not yet have ICP Filing (ICP bei’an), how can I complete it?

Before your website or app goes live, you must submit the required documentation to your local hosting provider who will then forward it to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) for further review. Keep in mind that you must complete ICP Filing in the same province where your business license was issued, so make sure to consult the MIIT’s ICP filing regulations for different regions before preparing your application.

After filling in the relevant filing materials and verifying the real name, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or application Distribution Platform (App Stores) will submit an online filing application through the National Internet Basic Resource Management System (i.e., the ICP/IP address/domain name information filing management system, hereinafter referred to as the filing system) to the Communication and Information Administration of the place where the app organizer has its domicile. The enterprises do not need to queue up at the Communications Authority to apply for the filing.

7. How long does it take for ICP filing?

After receiving the filing materials submitted by the app organizer, the provincial communication authority shall file the materials within twenty working days if the materials are complete and accurate.

8. How to get the filing result after submitting the app filing materials?

The official will inform the organizer through SMS and email, and the organizer can also inquire through the website of the ICP/IP Address/Domain Name Information Registration Management System. If the application is unsuccessful, the Provincial Communications Bureau will also notify and explain.

9. What are the consequences of not filing on time?

Apps that do not fulfill the filing procedures will be denied access to the Internet by Internet Service Providers, excluded by application distribution platforms, as well as prevented from being pre-installed on smart devices by smart terminal manufacturers.

During the so-called Normalization working stage from July 2024 onwards, Communications authorities will regularly conduct assessments on the accuracy of app registration information and act accordingly.

China ICP Mobile App Registration with TMO Group’s Agency Services

For overseas app operators, the filing process may be difficult as the materials required for ICP filing and the registration system are in Chinese, and the ICP filing of overseas entities requires the use of space servers in mainland China. TMO has the experience of helping overseas enterprises to comply with ICP filing in China, if you need help with the app or mini-program ICP license filing, or have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

*Source: Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, Internet Society of China

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