Special business
licensing in China.

Secure the proper business licenses and permits for your company’s sector in China. Our team of experts will help you determine and apply for special licensing with the appropriate authorities to ensure you operate legally.

Special business licensing in China

What is a business license?

A business license is the operating permit of a limited liability company in China. It is comparable to a corporation certificate or company certificate issued by the company registry in most countries.

A China business license is often also referred to as a 3-in-1-license or 5-in-1-license, which refer to one and the same thing.

The business license includes a business scope, which is one of the most important elements of a company’s business license, as it determines what business activities the company may engage in. The business scope is subject to approval by the relevant local or municipal authorities, including the Authority for Market Regulation (AMR) and, for some industries, the Commission of Commerce (COC). A company may only operate according to its business scope, while violations can be severely punished.

As China applies a negative list, not all activities are permitted for foreign investors. So-called foreign investment restricted industries include aviation, education, natural resources, automotive, law, and several other industries that are vital to China.

Some activities may be approved in the business scope, but still require obtaining special licenses, after the business license is issued.

Business licenses & permits

Special business licenses & permits you may need.

Some specialised sectors in China require special licensing and certifications before your business can operate. Depending on your type of business, you will need more than one license in these categories:

  • Import and export business licenses

    Any trading company that wishes to import or export goods shall obtain a foreign trade recordation at China Customs. Special products may require additional licenses.

  • Pharmaceutical business licenses

    Companies importing or selling pharmaceutical products (36-72 months), cosmetics (3-6 months) or medical devices (6-12 months) must obtain special product licenses.

  • Construction licenses and permits

    Companies engaging in construction activities can apply for various grades of construction licenses according to a range of categories. You simply need to explain your business activities to us and we will advise on the required licensing.

  • Value Added Telecom Services (VATS) licenses

    Any website in China is required to apply for an Internet Content Provider (ICP) simple registration prior to operation their website to be accessing a China content delivery network (CDN). This license is relatively easy to obtain. E-commerce businesses in China that are operating a third-party services platform are required to secure an ICP license.

    Software as a Service (SaaS) companies usually require another type of VATS license, such as an EDI license before they may operation their application / APP or website. This is usually mandatory for launching a China-based website that generates profit or stores information or data generating a profit.

  • Food operation licenses

    Companies operating in the food industry will need to secure one or more of these licenses: hygiene license, food operations license, food production license, and/or alcohol license.

Single fee per license
Business license application process

How to secure special licenses and permits in China.

Take advantage of our expertise and let us help you apply for the
necessary licenses and permits you need to start operating in China.

Determining your sector’s requirements

We have experience assisting clients across a range of industries. Upon famliarising oursleves with your specific requirements we will advise.

Preparing and filing the application

We will take care of in-person and online applications of your special licenses with the appropriate government authorities.

Ready for business

Once you have acquired your special licenses and permits, you can start operating your business with peace of mind.
Ready to get started?

Let us guide you in making your company’s activities fully compliant, watertight and ready for business.

Non-binding & confidential
Not sure where to begin?

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation
on starting & managing your company
in China.

+86 21 6173 8270 (SH)

We are open Monday – Friday
9:30 am – 7 pm (UTC+8)

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