Do I need a license to sell online in China?
Do I need a license to sell online in China?

Do I need a license to sell online in China?

It has already been told many times but it has to be said again! China represents the biggest consumer market in the world. It is a market with a lot of opportunities for companies willing to reach this market. Willing to go to this market is good but it can be quite hard sometimes.

There are some marketing and law requirements/rules you will have to follow. This article will focus on the law side. Regarding that, your company will need to have some licenses to be able to sell online in China. Let’s have a look at the different licenses you will need to be able to sell online in China.

What ICP license do I need to sell online in China?

It has already been explained before that in China if you want to build a website or an ecommerce website, you will need to apply for the ICP license. Just to remind you, it is a permit that will enable your China-based website(s) to operate in China.

There are two kinds of ICP licenses:

  • ICP license for commercial websites (operational): this license allows your prospects to do some online shopping.
  • ICP license for non-commercial websites (informational): this license does not include direct sales.

Before, only the Chinese company could apply for the commercial ICP but now even the foreign companies can apply for it too.

Moreover, even if you have an ecommerce website and do some sales through your website, you do not necessarily need to apply for a commercial ICP, a non-commercial is enough. Indeed, the commercial ICP is really needed for market places (e.g.: or Taobao) or some sensitive/specific industry such as healthcare.

Do I need a specific license to sell online in China?

There are different cases. For instance if you decide to do some cross-border ecommerce business in China then you will have the possibility to do:

  • Platforms: such as Tmall Global or JD Worlwide you will need to respect their requirements and those ones are not always similar.
  • Ecommerce website: you will have to manage all the customs clearance and import taxes... All the rules linked to the import.
  • A service provider: will help you with all the domestic tasks in China, it means the warehouses, the VAT compliance and customer support.

After all this, to be able to do one you will have to have different documents such as: business license, sales tax registration, professional/occupation licenses, health inspection certification… All of these are not mandatory it will depend on each case and on what your business is.

However, if you have some specificities and you sell some particular products that can be sensitive to the Chinese government then it will be probably less easy to sell online in China. You will have to have some certificates to respect the local laws and rules. You can also contact a quality control inspections company to check if your products meet the local rules and requirements.

What is your next step?

As you can see, there is no preordained answers. For each activity of business the licenses needed will be different. It can be easy for one business or it can be the other way around and be more complicated to have all the document needed to be able to practice your business. If you have any specific question about it or if you need some help to launch or set up your business do not hesitate to contact us.

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