Foreign companies wishing to do business in China do not necessarily need to establish any kind of organisation in China. If they do want to set up a ‘China arm’, it can be one of the following types of entity:
- JV (joint venture)
- WFOE (wholly foreign owned entity)
- RO (representative office)
Note that rep. offices are becoming an increasingly rare choice for foreign companies wishing to operate in China as the Chinese government is gradually reducing the legally permitted capabilities of ROs. JVs and WFOEs are the more common choices as they allow a much broader range of business operations to take place.
Checking the Registration Record
The process of checking the public registration record of a JV, WFOE or RO is much the same as that for checking a domestically owned Chinese company. All of these records can be checked via the website for the AIC (Administration of Industry and Commerce – 工商行政管理局) for the province the entity is registered in. Each province in China (‘province’ including major cities which have their own AICs) has an AIC, and they are required by Chinese law to make their company registration records publicly available online.
Unfortunately, the quality of these public registration record websites varies considerably between different AICs. There is currently no consistent, standardised system. Instead, you will have to determine how the particular AIC for the relevant province makes its records available. Some have intelligent search functions that accept only part of the entity’s registered name. Others require the full name to be entered exactly for any results to be displayed. Further, each AIC updates its public records on its own schedule, which in some cases can mean that the records get out of date before they are updated with the latest information.
The easiest way to find the AIC website for the province where your entity is registered is to do a websearch in Chinese for the name of the province and the term 工商行政管理局. AIC websites will include the letters ‘AIC’ in their address. For example, the AIC website for Gansu province looks like this in search results:
Once you’ve identified the AIC website for the province your entity is registered in, you can search for its registered name. This is likely to be its Chinese name, although some JVs, WFOEs and ROs are registered with an official English name. Depending on the search functionality of the AIC website and the accuracy of your search, the AIC website will display the public records it has on file for the entity you’re interested in. This record will display, at a minimum, the following information about the entity:
- Registration number
- Date of establishment
- Registering authority
- Registered name
- Registered address
- Legal representative
- Registered capital
- Received capital
- Company type
- Business scope
- Period of operation
You can use this record to check that your JV, WFOE or RO in China has been registered correctly, and to see what registration information regarding it is being displayed to the general public. Note that all AIC records are displayed in Chinese and not in English, as are AIC website interfaces in general. Searching for a registered entity usually requires using its Chinese name, as it’s somewhat unusual for a company to be registered with an official English name.
China Checkup provides a hassle-free way to check the public registration records of any registered entity in China. We handle retrieval of the public registration record, and provide a full translation and explanation of the information displayed. Read more about our Chinese company reports for more information.