When you’re considering doing business with a Chinese company, it’s important to check when their business license expires. This is stated on the business license as the ‘period of operation’ with a start and end date. It tells you how long that particular license is valid for. Remember that those dates do not necessarily tell you how long the company is currently licensed for, or when it is likely to stop operating. Instead, the expiry date is much more like that on a passport – it only applies to the current document and not to the holder.
Having said that, you should find it suspicious if a Chinese company you’re dealing with sends you a copy of a business license (and you should request to see one) which appears to have expired. There is some chance it was an honest mistake and they sent you an old business license when they do actually have an up-to-date one (in which case you might question the organisational skills of their office staff).
More likely, however, is that their license expired and they have been unable to get a new one approved in time. If that is the case, you probably shouldn’t be doing business with the company in question. Only do business with Chinese companies who can show you a business license that’s currently in its period of validity.
Viewing a Chinese Business License
Once you’ve requested and received a copy of a Chinese company’s business license, you need to identify the dates showing period of validity. The section will look something like this:
Looking Up the Period of Validity On a Company’s Public Record
The next step (or the first, if you don’t have access to the company’s business license) is to confirm when their business license expires by looking at their public registration record. This is made available on the website of the AIC (Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau, 工商行政管理局, Gōngshāng Xíngzhèng Guǎnlǐjú) for the province the company is registered in. You will need to find the website and then search for the company’s record using its registered name in Chinese.
China Checkup provides this service as part of its China company verification report. We will retrieve, translate and explain the public record of a Chinese company, and provide a large amount of extra information that you will find useful in assessing the company you’re interested in.
It’s important to note that the public record made available online by an AIC is not always 100% up-to-date, as the AICs are not always lightning fast with their updates.
Generally the public record is accurate, but to totally guarantee that you’re seeing the latest version of the record, you need to send a Chinese lawyer to go in person to the relevant AIC office and retrieve a hardcopy of the record.
China Checkup provides this service through our China company verification services.