Entering China Ecommerce: ICP Beian Must-knows in 2017

TMO GroupFebruary 16, 2017
Entering China Ecommerce: ICP Beian Must-knows in 2017

To "Play by the rules" is crucial for China eCommerce entry, and "ICP Beian" is one of those important China Internet regulations.

Sad fact is: although there are a lot "ICP Beian" related articles or instructions, you cannot tell whether they are accurate, up-to-dated and fit for your business.

This article will offer you a high level understanding of ICP Beian, especially for a foreign brand/business aiming to gain its eCommerce presence in China market.


What is ICP Beian?

“ICP Beian” stands for the process of obtaining the Business ICP registration number that allows you to host your website on a Mainland Chinese server.

  • ICP stands for “Internet Content Provider”
  • 备案(Bei An) means “registration/filing”.                                                

ICP Beian number must appear on your website home page. It is usually placed on the bottom of the front webpage.

h&M China eCommerce ICP Beian

Example: H&M's ICP Beian number at the bottom of homepage


Do I need ICP Beian?

Since the law only requires all sites hosted on a Mainland China server must have ICP Beian.

As a result:

  • If your site is hosted on a Mainland China server, then Yes you need to get it done.
  • If your site is hosted somewhere else, you do not need ICP Beian.

Therefore, for eCommerce biz in China,

  • If you have your own eCommerce site (with own domain) in China, you need ICP Beian. (Example: sephora.cn)
  • If you opened up a store on platforms like Tmall/JD/Taobao, you don’t need ICP Beian.


How important is getting ICP Beian?

  • It is the law

All sites hosted on a Mainland China server must have ICP Beian by law. If your China website is live without ICP Beian, it may get blocked in two days.

ICP Beian China eCommerce site

 This will appear on your website if it is detected without ICP Beian.

  •  Faster speed

Well, obtaining ICP Beian will not make your site any faster, but the fact that your site hosting on China server can guarantee your Chinese user a fast-loading experiences.

Online users, especially mobile users are so impatient these days, so faster speed matters a lot.

  • Mandatory for WeChat Pay/Alipay Integration

This may be the most important reason for adopting ICP Beian. Alipay and WeChat Pay are two of the most used eCommerce payment options in China. To integrate your eCommerce site with either of these two payments, you MUST have ICP Beian.

  • Mandatory for Baidu Pay-per-click (PPC)

Obtaining ICP Beian is also a must have if you want to launch a Baidu PPC ad campaign.

AirBNB Baidu PPC

Airbnb's PPC ad on Baidu

  • Build Customer Trust

Having your ICP Beian number listed is sending your Chinese customer a message: your foreign business is legitimate, official and authentic in China market. ICP Beian number is usually linked with the official ICP Beian website powered by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, giving viewers the option to check your registration info.


What are the requirements to apply for ICP Beian?

  • Must have a website hosted on a Mainland Chinese server.
  • Must have a Chinese Company business license. Your foreign business must have a registered China office/China branch.
  • All forms must be completed in Chinese only. You might need a Chinese citizen to help taking responsibility for the filing.


How long will it take?

 - 15-20 business days

Whether your ICP Beian is successful or not, you will get informed via text message/email after around 20 business days.


How much?

- Free.

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of the Chinese government is responsible for issuing ICP licenses, and they don’t charge anything for ICP Beian. As a result:

  • If you decide to do every single step by yourself – it’s totally free.
  • If you choose your hosting company in China or any ICP agency for help – service fee may apply.


I heard about ICP License a lot… is that the same with ICP Beian?

Short answer is: No, they are different. Below is the detailed comparison:

ICP Beian and ICP license China eCommerce

Therefore, no need to worry about ICP license if you are only aiming at a brand eCommerce site in China.


Key Takeaways:

  • A website hosted on China server MUST obtain ICP Beian.
  • No ICP Beian, No Alipay/WeChat pay.
  • Your company should be registered and have a China business license.
  • ICP Beian is different from ICP licence.


Final Words?

- Be alert! The policy changes fast.

The ICP Beian policy won't stay the same for several years, so make sure you check the latest regulations before you apply. Plus, every province of China has its own different requirements to apply, so find your province's policy (the province your Chinese business license was acquired) and follow the steps.


- Strategize your China eCommerce plan first

ICP Beian seems to be a lot of work, but it is essential if you seem China as a key eCommerce market. Therefore, think it through before you put anything into action. Do you plan to have a dedicated China eCommerce site? Or do you just want to give it a try for China market?

Once you made up your mind to invest in China eCommerce, ICP is a must-do for your China eCommerce localization.


- Ask local experts for help.

For any foreign individual or business out of China, to obtain ICP Beian seem very overwhelming.

Whether you are a registered joint venture in China looking for ICP Beian application assistance, or you are WOFE company that do not know where to start, you will always benefit from talking to local experienced experts. One hand you can keep yourself updated about the latest policy, meanwhile you can seek for your own solutions.

TMO Group proudly serves our global clients with China cloud hosting & ICP solutions. Feel free to let us know how we can put your foreign brand into China eCommerce landscape!



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