China Business License - An Introduction

- Dec 10, 2018 -

All Mainland China companies should be registered and have a China business license, so there is a good chance you will have seen or received a copy of this certificate.

But what does the license represent and what information does it contain? This article explains all.

Business Registration in Mainland China

To register in Mainland China, companies are required to apply to the relevant authorities for a business license.

This application is usually made at the company’s local Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC).

If and when the company is issued a business license, they will receive their business licence in the form of a certificate. All companies in Mainland China should be registered and have such a certificate.

What Does a China Business License Look Like?

Throughout Mainland China the appearance of the business licence certificate is fairly consistent and will clearly state the text “营业执照” (business licence) in a large font.

See the text in gold on the image below:

Many companies actually receive two versions of this certificate, one in A3 size which is the official certificate, and one in A4 size which is an official copy!

Don’t be concerned if you receive one or the other, they contain the same information.

A3 “Official” Business License

Includes the red national emblem with 5 stars

A4 “Official Copy” Business License

Without the the red national emblem.

Business Licenses with QR Codes (Updated November 2014)

As we reported earlier in the year, China business licenses are now starting to be issued with a QR codes displayed.

Here is an example of a China business license with a QR code:

What Information is Contained on a China Business License?

Unfortunately China business license certificates are only available in Chinese writing which makes it difficult to comprehend for most foreigners.

In simple terms, the license contains the key details of the company’s registration and specifies details such as their:

Requesting a Copy of a China Business License

In Mainland China it is very common for many companies such as shops and restaurants to display their business license in their premises to demonstrate to customers that they are a legitimate business.

When you are doing business with a Chinese company it is a good idea to request a copy of their China business license to ensure that they are registered.

Often a Chinese company will provide you with a copy of their license before you even ask for it.

Help! I Can’t Read the Business License

A company has provided you with a copy of their China business license but you don’t read Chinese characters and can’t make sense of it. You understand that the information on the license is critical to help you understand the business, so what to do?

China Checkup’s company verification report service gives you access to the current registration record of a Mainland China company, with complete translation and explanation in native English.


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