Due Diligence
24
October 2013

Is there a China Companies House?

You may know that companies registering in the UK register with “Companies House”, well the closest equivalent to a China Companies House is the Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC).

There are significant differences, however, between how the UK’s Companies House and China’s AIC operates and this article aims to shed some light on this subject.

Key Differences between UK and China Companies House

In the UK, official business registration records for the whole country are centralized and handled by the government office called Companies House. If you’re dealing with a company in the UK such as a supplier, you can use the publicly searchable records provided by Companies House to verify details (in English!) such as their company registration number, VAT registration and so on.

The picture in China is less straightforward and there is no single “China Companies House” for the country as a whole. China is a much larger and more administratively-complex country, so rather than have one single authority to register companies, there are regional offices covering each of the different provinces and administrative areas of the country. 

These offices are usually known by their abbreviated provincial names, e.g. Shandong AIC or Hebei AIC, with AIC being an abbreviation for “Adminstration for Industry and Commerce” which in Chinese is written as “工商行政管理局” (Gōngshāng Xíngzhèng Guǎnlǐ Jú).

The AIC has its headquarters in Beijing, which is known as the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC). This office is responsible for coordinating the regional AICs and also registers some of China’s largest companies.

How to Determine which AIC a China Company is Registered With

The key to determining which province a company is registered in is in its name! Nearly all Mainland China companies include their registration location in their company name. This can be a town or a province. If it is a town you are unfamiliar with you can use google to determine which province it belongs to.

This sounds straightforward enough, but the trouble is Chinese companies names are registered in the Chinese language only, and the English name they use may or may not be a direct translation of their official Chinese company name.

Looking up Company Information

Determining where a Chinese company is registered used to be a prerequisite for carrying out checks, but thanks to the new National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System (which you can read about here) this is no longer the case.

National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System

Each AIC branch provides public access to the company registration records that it holds for each entity under its jurisdiction, and this is done via the national system.

In addition, if the nationwide website isn’t providing you the results you require, you can also try looking up a company on the local AIC websites.

Unfortunately, there is currently no English language version for any of the AIC company search websites.

Some AIC websites, such as those for major cities, may offer English language versions for some of their pages. Currently, though, the majority of AIC websites are only available in Chinese, and generally require some knowledge of the Chinese language to navigate.

If you can find your way around the Chinese AIC website, you can use it in much the same way you would use Companies House to find information on UK companies.

Once you’ve managed to retrieve the AIC record for a particular company, you will likely need to have it translated into English and explained to make the information accessible to you for business use.

An Easier Way to Access China Companies House-like Records

China Checkup offers a convenient and streamlined way to access the public registration record of any company in China. All we require is the name of the company in English and some identifying information such as their website address. With that, we will handle the whole process for you, including:

  • Identifying the relevant AIC where the company is registered.
  • Retrieving the Chinese AIC record for the company.
  • Translating the AIC record into clear English.
  • Explaining each element of the AIC record for the company, with detailed description of what each item means.

We present the above information and more in a clear, high-quality report that is emailed to your inbox in PDF format. Find out more about China Checkup’s online services or contact us with your enquiry. 

Further reading