Many international buyers have asked us whether all Chinese companies must have an ICP certificate for their websites. They asked this because they have heard that the websites of dishonest companies do not have ICP certificates. Is that the case? Not necessarily. In this article, I am going to explain what an ICP certificate is, how to find the relevant information of a company through the ICP registration certificate number, and whether the ICP certificate is related to the authenticity of a Chinese company.
What is ICP?
ICP means Internet Content Provider, ICP certificate is a certificate that companies must have when providing Internet service and value-added services to Chinese users. It shall be illegal to engage in commercial Internet services without such a certificate or to provide service beyond the permitted items.
What kind of companies in China should have an ICP certificate for their websites:
Operates in China
Use internet servers in China
How to find a Chinese company’s information from its ICP registration number?
Step 1: Go to the website of this company
You need to search this company’s website on the Internet, and you just need to stay on the landing page. For example, this is the landing page of Baidu.
Step 2: Find its ICP registration number
You can find the ICP registration number of a company at the bottom of its website. For example, the ICP registration number of Baidu is on the lower right corner of its website.
But there are some other companies whose websites are rich in contents, so you need to scroll the page to the bottom, and look for the Chinese characters “增值电信业务经营许可证”. For example, this company is Tencent, its ICP registration number is 粤B2-20090059.
If you can find an ICP registration number on a company’s website, that means this company has an ICP certificate. But you still have to be careful. You will also need to check the ICP registration information again to determine which company the site belongs to.
How to check which Chinese company owns a certain website with its ICP filing information?
After making sure this company has an ICP registration number, you could use ICP备案查询网 (ICP Registration Query) to search for its information. The steps are as follows.
Step 1: Go to the website of ICP Registration Query
You need to navigate to the website of ICP Registration Query: https://www.beianx.cn/
The landing page looks like this.
Step 2: Enter the company’s website domain
You should enter the domain name of this company which is the same as its website in the search box, and then click the blue button. For example, if you want to search the company ‘Baidu’, you need to enter ‘baidu.com’ in the search box.
Step 3: Check the ICP registration number
You will see the page like the following picture. You will see only one result if you entered the correct domain name. Then you need to check the ICP registration number to ensure that this is the company that you want to search for.
Step 4: Acquire further information
Click the Chinese characters “备案详情” which means details of records, you will see information such as the name of the company, the nature of the company, the name of the website, the name of the person in charge of the website, and the pre-approval items of the website. Then you need to check the consistency of the information on this page and the information on its business license to judge whether the company is dishonest, remember that each character should be the same.
Since an ICP certificate is a must when people want to provide Internet service in China, so can we use an ICP certificate to judge whether this company is honest or not?
Is a company without an ICP certificate a dishonest company?
The answer is no.
When a Chinese website is aimed at domestic customers, using domestic servers, then an ICP certificate is a must.
However, if the site is aimed at foreign customers, using foreign servers, then an ICP certificate is not required. This could also explain why some foreign trade websites don’t have ICP certificates.
Is a company with an ICP certificate a real or legitimate company?
The answer is not necessarily.
Here is news about false business license and false ICP certificate, the title of this news is that ‘More than 12,000 false business licenses were seized, Tencent assisted Xuzhou police in catching criminals who made false ICP certificates.’
From this news, we could understand that some ICP certificates are got with falsified materials. Enterprise business license and id card are necessary to apply for ICP certificates. Some criminals use illegal ways to acquire people’s personal information and business information, such as stealing, buying people’s id card, phone card, bank card, the company’s business license, information of company account and other related information, and then use these materials to apply for ICP certificates. A company with such an ICP certificate is also illegal.
There is no doubt that we could acquire a Chinese company’s information from its ICP certificate, but it is impossible to judge whether this company is honest. To mitigate risks, international buyers should always remember to ask for business licenses of companies from China. With it, you should also find ways to check Chinese companies’ structure & shareholders, intellectual property, related risks, customs registration information, business registration information, change records, etc. Only a full-scope due diligence check on a Chinese company can help you minimize risks.