We regularly get asked about the existence of a China company registration search website, or whether we offer such functionality ourselves.
These sorts of services are quite common in other countries (such as Companies House in the UK) and the good news is that China now also has a nationwide system, which we will introduce in this article.
China Company Registration Search Overview
Before we go into the details, here’s a quick summary of the current state of affairs regarding company registration searches in China:
- There is no English-language search service for company registrations in Mainland China
- There is a free nationwide Chinese-language search website for searching company registration details, and since late 2016 searching across all provinces is now possible
- There is also a system of local company registration databases specific to each province of China that can be searched in Chinese
- Hong Kong offers a fully-fledged company registration search website that can be used in English
As you can see, this situation is less than ideal for promoting business with Chinese companies, as knowledge of the Chinese language is required to look up China company registration details.
This is one of the issues that China Checkup’s services address: we provide convenient access to China company registration information in English. Read more about our company verification services.
China Company Registration Searches in English
As of 2017, the authorities in Mainland China are still doing a poor job of making company registration information available to the rest of the world in English. We believe open, international access to this information would foster greater trade volume and business interaction with Chinese companies, but such a service has not yet materialized.
Part of the reason for this may be that official Chinese company names are always in Chinese, so business registrations are only made using Chinese characters.
This means that even if a China company registration search website were made available with an English-language interface, users would most likely still require knowledge of the Chinese language in order to carry out successful searches on the database.
Further, even once the registration record for a company has been found, navigation and all of the company information is in Chinese and not English.
Nationwide Company Registration Search System
In 2015, China completed implementation of a long-awaited nationwide company registration search website and we noticed further improvements to this website in late 2016.
This website is called the "National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System" and can be accessed here.
Since late 2016 this system has allowed users to search companies throughout the Mainland by entering their official company name or company registration number.
Despite having this unified search system, we have found that the information in the "nationwide system" can be out of date, as it seems to be updated less frequently than that recorded in each province's systems.
You can navigate to the province in which the company you are checking is registered (the provinces are each listed under their China region) – see image above right.
To us, we find it very impressive that, despite its shortcomings, China has implemented this nationwide system - it’s important to remember that China is a vast country with millions of companies. It can often make more sense to compare China to the European Union than to any individual country.
Local AIC Websites
An alternative to using the nationwide website for checking China company registrations online is to view the websites provided by each of the local AICs. Company registrations in China are handled in each region by an AIC – Administration of Industry and Commerce.
This is a local government office that deals with business registrations in that area, amongst other things. There is an AIC for each province and major city in China, as well as various sub-branches in smaller districts.
These local AIC websites appear to be slowly removing their own local online databases and clicking on their search link now often takes you to the national system.
Having said that we still find the local AIC websites for Shenzhen and Beijing rather useful and there are occasions where information provided in these local systems may not be available from the national website, so they may be worth taking a look – if you can identify which AIC the company is registered with.
The Hong Kong Companies Registry
You may be aware that Hong Kong is quite separate from mainland China when it comes to company registrations.
English is an official language of Hong Kong which means that company registration and certificates of incorporation can be more easily understood.
One aspect of this is that Hong Kong’s registration search options are much more developed and useful to foreign businesses as all information is provided in English.
The Cyber Search Centre of the Integrated Companies Registry Information System (ICRIS) is the website you want, and offers an English language interface for making company registration searches. Unfortunately, this service is not available on the mainland.
Offshore Chinese Companies
For websites giving registration details for Chinese companies registered offshore take a look at this article.
Verify a Company with China Checkup
China Checkup takes the complexity out of China company registration searches.
To verify a Chinese company all we need is their English name and some identifying information such as their website address, and we’ll handle all the research for you. With our China company verification reports, you’ll get the information you need in English, with a really fast turnaround time.