Due Diligence
February 2014

China Supplier Verification in 3 Steps

As an ever increasing number of companies look to source from Chinese companies, the issue of China supplier verification is becoming an increasingly important consideration.

Verification of Chinese companies is exactly what we do here at China Checkup, so we thought we’d share some of our knowledge on how exactly this type of verification is carried out.

With some Chinese language knowledge and a basic understanding of how the business registration system works in China, you can check if any company in China, supplier or otherwise, is officially registered. You can then use the registration details to corroborate information given to you by the supplier. We explain the process for getting this registration details in three steps.

However, always be aware that scammers and fraudsters may well try to assume the identity of a legitimate company in order to fool unwary buyers. In that case, verification of the supplier would appear to show a genuine company behind the registration details. In some cases this type of fraud can be identified by corroborating details from a business license with the official registration record obtained. Some careless scammers may simply digitally alter a real business license, and this would be apparent during the comparison. To avoid more carefully-design scams, it’s wise to try and confirm legitimate contact channels with the company, for example via their website or trade publications.

Basic China Supplier Verification Using Official Records

We’ll describe how to verify the official registration details of a Chinese company, but remember that this is only one step in what should be a thorough process of China supplier verification, inspection and testing. The process here is designed to avoid illegal, unregistered companies and scams. The next stage is to make visits to the supplier’s place of production and carry out proper inspections.

1. Identify the Supplier’s Chinese Business Name

As the official language of China is Chinese (no surprises there), all business registrations are done in Chinese. In 99% of cases the English name of a Chinese company is in no way official or registered in any way – it’s simply an arbitrary name they have chosen for themselves. Because of this, it’s essential to use the Chinese name (in Chinese characters) to carry out verification of Chinese suppliers.

It shouldn’t be difficult to obtain the Chinese name of a supplier. Requesting a copy of their business license is a standard measure to take, and this will display their Chinese name. If you’re not currently in contact with the supplier, their website will almost certainly display their official Chinese name.

2. Locate the Relevant AIC for the Supplier’s Registration

Once you have the supplier’s Chinese name, you can use this to identify the local government office which keeps their records on file. Chinese company names always include the company’s registered location, whether it’s at a national, provincial, city or township level. The bureau which handles these registrations in each area is called the AIC – Administration for Industry and Commerce. You’ll need to use the supplier’s name to find the website for the relevant AIC by searching online.

You can put your usual web-search skills to use here, but some useful search terms to try are:

  • [location name in Chinese] + AIC
  • [location name in Chinese] + 企业信息
  • [location name in Chinese] + 工商行政管理局
  • [location name in Chinese] + 红盾

It’s important to find the website of the right AIC for this particular supplier, because it will only be registered with that one AIC. AICs do not hold registration records for companies outside of their jurisdiction.

3. Obtain the Supplier’s Registration Records

Once you’ve got the supplier’s Chinese name and you’ve located the website for the relevant AIC, you can search for the company’s official registration records. Even with knowledge of the Chinese language, it may be slightly tricky to actually find the search function on the AIC website, as they are rarely designed with user-friendliness in mind. Keep an out for the term 企业信息 and anything similar, and you should be able to find the company search function.

When searching, use the full and exact Chinese name, as many of the AIC websites and search functions are quite poorly designed – often they will not accept anything other than the complete name as listed in their records. Don’t be surprised if the AIC website requires Internet Explorer, either. Like we said – the AIC websites are rarely designed with the user in mind!

If your search is successful, you will be shown the supplier’s official registration record. You can then use this to confirm details they have given you, to corroborate their business license, and to try and establish whether you are genuinely in contact with the company in question.

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How China Checkup Can Help with China Supplier Identification and Verification

China Checkup offers streamlined, fast and affordable identification and verification of Chinese suppliers. We’ll handle the whole identification and verification process and deliver a compiled report to your inbox.

Learn more about our Chinese company verification services.

Further reading