The huge business opportunities associated with the rapidly growing Chinese middle class are the focus of many multinational companies. However, due to China’s complex government regulations and Internet infrastructure barriers, accessing the 800 million Internet users in China is a great challenge for foreign companies.
When you are considering hosting your website in Mainland China, the first thing to consider is the Internet Content Provider (ICP) license, also known as “Bei-An”. ICP (Internet Content Provider) license is a permit issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of China that allows websites to operate in China. All websites delivering content from servers in Mainland China are legally required to have an ICP license.
The ICP license number is usually displayed in a small print on the footer of the website.
Short answer: Yes.
All websites hosted on servers located in mainland China require an ICP license to operate. The websites hosted out of mainland China servers do not require ICP registration.
And as always, there is the BUT….
But……websites hosted outside of China often experience extremely slow loading time. Sometimes the website may simply be blocked.
Some companies have chosen to host web servers in Hong Kong to avoid ICP requirements. It is true that ICP is not required for web services hosted in HongKong. However, as it is geographically closer to China, the web performance from HongKong to mainland China is nowhere to be guaranteed.
Below is a chart showing the packet loss and jitter accessing a HongKong hosted web-based service from China. Service suffers from up to 18.61% packet loss during the working hours from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
There are many other downsides to host outside of China. Such as the low ranking on the Chinese search engine Baidu.
In short, it is highly recommended that businesses obtain an ICP license and host in China to serve the China market.
For those whose website is far too sophisticated to replicate in China, check Mirror Hosting.
Do not be overwhelmed. ICP application is not as complicated as many thought it would be. CDS regulation compliance officers in Beijing and Shanghai are experts in terms of foreign business or individuals applying for ICP. General ICP registration is a FREE service. Once all the required paperwork is prepared, ICP can be assigned within 20 days. Schedule A Call for details.