Due Diligence
14
March 2014

China Company Register - The AIC System

Nearly all countries operate a company register and China is no exception. The China company register records all of the companies that have been officially registered for business in Mainland China and is managed by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC).

Because China is such a vast and populous country with a dynamic economy, recording all of its registered companies is a very onerous task.

To make this process easier, the SAIC delegates responsibility for maintaining the China company register to a network of provincial and municipal offices, which operate with a degree of independence – this is the AIC system.

How is the China Company Register Structured?

An AIC branch building in Shanghai

The provisions for recording company registration in China are a little more complicated than in most countries because, for the most part, China is such a large country with a huge number of companies.

A good comparison can be made with the size and scale of the United States, where each state operates its own company register.

The China company register is overseen by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and registration of the (usually very large) national-level companies is handled directly by this state authority.

For the majority of companies, the state authority delegates business registration to local Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) branches in each administrative region. There are then further sub-branches for the AIC in each area.

Regional Differences in China Company Register Information

Whilst the national body (the SAIC) stipulates that business registration information is to be made available to promote safer business practices, the multitude of local branch offices can carry this out in different ways.

Due to the relatively decentralized company registration system, there can be some variability in the company information retained and/or made available to the public by each of the regional AIC branches.

In recent years however, China has undertaken a huge program to overhaul and modernize their company registration system and this has led to big improvements in the consistency and accuracy of information available.

How to Look-up a Business on the China Company Register

The good news is that there is now a centralized system for checking business registration on the China company register. The bad news is that it is only in Chinese!

In addition, each regional AIC office operates their own website which you may find useful in some circumstances.

China Checkup’s company verification services offer the most convenient way to verify any China-registered business and access their records from the China company register.

Further reading