How to apply for an ICP 2022?
If you are not sure what is ICP? Read our previous article "What is an ICP License? Do I Need It?" first, it will give you an overall idea of what it is and why you need it.
This article will show you step-by-step guidance on how to apply for an ICP.
Who Qualifies for an ICP?
Not anyone is qualified to apply for an ICP.
Who can get ICP Filing (Bei'an)?
Both individuals and companies can apply for ICP Filing.
For companies, you must have a registered business entity in mainland China, including joint ventures, Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises (WFOE), and 100% domestically-owned companies.
For individuals, Chinese nationals with Chinese citizen’s ID and foreigners with permanent residence in China both can apply for a personal website. However, non-Chinese individuals may also need:
Both a Chinese landline and cell phone number with SMS
An Alipay account connected to a source of funds (such as a Chinese bank account)
A person who can accept your mail and send mail as necessary
The ability to read and speak Mandarin Chinese
Who can get an ICP License (Commercial)?
To apply for a Commercial ICP license, you will need a Chinese-owned business entity or sino-foreign joint-venture where the proportion of foreign investment cannot exceed 49%, with at least 1 million RMB registered capital. Foreign companies will also need to apply for a “Foreign (Regional) Enterprises Resident Representative Registration Certificate” before filing.
Individuals are NOT qualified to apply for a Commercial ICP license.
What are the steps to get an ICP?
The process of applying for either ICP Filing (Bei'an) or a commercial ICP license is pretty much the same. You do not need to be physically present in China, as the whole procedure can be done online. But you will need the assistance of a persona or an organization who speaks mandarin Chinese, to prepare documents and pick up phone calls, as no English forms and English-speaking government officials are available.
The ICP online system follows a “one account, one owner” rule, which means that if you own multiple websites, you can file for each of them using a single account, as long as you are the listed owner for all the domain names you will register.
For sites with different owners, you’ll need one account for each owner. You will also need a separate ICP Filing for each top-level domain that you have.
Here we will go through the process of getting an ICP step by step.
Step 1: Obtain a Chinese-based local hosting provider.
First, purchase a domain name from one of the Chinese domain providers or transfer your domain to a Chinese-based domain provider. Major ones include Alibaba Cloud , Huawei Cloud, Tencent Cloud, 21 YunBox, Baidu Cloud, etc.
Keep in mind, that you can only purchase Chinese domain names from Chinese domain providers because ICP applications are managed through your hosting provider. The process is the same for all hosting providers.
Step 2: Submit the required documentation.
Normally, you can apply for an ICP through the Chinese-based domain service provider you purchase from. You will need to gather and submit all the required documentation to your hosting provider, generally including:
Certificate of the person or organization making the application (Photo or a color scan of your Chinese ID card, if applying as an individual; Business license to verify the business, if applying on behalf of an organization)
Certificate of the website administrator
Domain name holder certificate
Photo of yourself holding the required documents
Photo of downloaded and filled out "Verification Form for Authenticity of Website Filing Information"
Also, each province has different rules, so the required documents can vary. For example, if you are applying in Beijing, you will also need a certificate of domain name confirmation. If in Guangdong province, you will need a commitment letter and website construction plan as well.
So which province should you choose?
If you are a business, you must register in the same province where your business license was issued. If you are an individual filing for an Individual ICP, you can register in any province you like, by checking the requirements first. Some provinces do not allow non-residents to apply, such as Hebei province.
Step 3. Wait for your web hosting provider to review and then wait for MIIT approval.
After your application is submitted, your hosting provider will verify them. Once successfully verified and approved, you will receive a text message from MIIT. It is necessary to complete the verification within 24 hours of receiving the text message. After successful SMS verification, your hosting provider will forward your application to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) for further review.
It will take around 20 business days for the bureau to verify the application, once verified you will receive an email notification from your hosting provider with the ICP filing number included. If you are rejected for any reason, you will be contacted by your hosting provider and asked to alter or submit additional information.
You will not directly interact with MIIT during any step of this process.
Step 4. File with the Public Security Bureau (PSB).
Once the ICP filing is successful, the final step is to apply for a Public Security Bureau (PSB) filing within 30 days of receiving your ICP License.
This step is like a criminal background check to confirm the applicant is not involved in criminal or illegal activities. You can file the PSB filing online on the Internet Security Administration Service Platform of the National Public Security Bureau of China. A confirmation email and SMS will be sent when the registration is complete. Although PSB filing is easier compared to ICP filing, do keep in mind that all information on this platform must be submitted and received in Chinese.
After receiving your PSB Filing number, both the ICP Filing number and PSB Filing number must be added to the footer of your website, with a link to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology as well so that website visitors can check and confirm the ICP information.
See McDonald's website as an example below.
Other than the normal ICP Filling process, certain types of websites may also require “pre-approval” from the relevant governmental authorities and departments before submitting your application in accordance with the law.
According to Article 5 of the Administrative Measures on Internet-based Information Services, websites that need "pre-approval" include but are not limited to:
publishing (videos, audio, books)
healthcare, medicine, or medical device
To go through the "pre-approval" process, you will need to identify which authorities to contact in the province you are filing, and contact them to get the details of requirements and relevant forms.
How much does it cost to get an ICP?
No matter whether you are trying to do ICP Filing (Bei’an) or getting a Commercial ICP license, the first thing you need to know is that it is completely FREE to go through the application process if you do it all by yourself. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology does NOT charge any fees.
"Wait, it's free? That is not what I've been told! It's said to cost thousands of dollars to get an ICP on Google!"
As we said in What is ICP? Do I Really Need It?, the purpose of ICP filing is to prevent illegal website business activities on the Internet and combat the spread of bad Internet information. The Chinese government does not make a profit out of the ICP filling system, so it is completely free.
However, the application process for an ICP can be tedious and long, requiring the ability to speak Mandarin Chinese, having a mailing address in mainland China, and often back and forth in submitting the documents. Thus many foreign companies choose to work with Chinese internet companies and agencies to accelerate the process. Since those companies will collect, fill out and upload all the required paperwork for you, they will ask for a filing fee.
Keep in mind, choosing a trustworthy agency with a track record can be vital. If you are having trouble identifying the right partner to work with, or if you want to get the ICP and make your site up and live, Send Us An Email and we will help you out!