Opinions, knowledge and resources from China Checkup's expert contributors
by Matt Slater
26 October 2020
The China company operating period is usually represented by two dates, which are specified on a Chinese business license.
It is the span between the date of incorporation - the first of these dates - and the expiry date of the company's registration - the second.
In some cases, a China company operating period may be open-ended, meaning no specific expiry date is specified.
When companies are registered in China, they are usually registered for a defined period, which is displayed on their business license and company registration file.
In theory, this means that the company could be dissolved at the end of their operating period, but in practice a business license will be renewed with the local authorities without too much difficulty.
If you view a Chinese company's business license, their operating period "营业期限" (yíngyè qíxiàn) is usually clearly displayed.
Sometime only the date of incorporation is specified because the operating period is open-ended. More on that later.
In most cases though, this includes two dates (date of incorporation and expiry date) separated by the character "至":
As you can see, the China company operating period is specified using the Chinese language, so to make sense of the data you'll first need to learn how dates are written in Chinese.
Modern-day China has aligned with most of the world and follows the Gregorian calendar. The traditional Chinese lunar calendar is almost never used for business purposes these days.
In Chinese, dates are always written in the order "year, month, day" which are represented by the following characters:
Note: sometimes the character 号 (hào) - which means "number" - is used instead of 日 to represent the day:
The operating period of a Chinese company depends on the type of company registration.
For foreign invested companies, an operating period of 20 years is typical, and there is an upper limit of 30 years in place.
As mentioned earlier, some China company operating periods are open-ended, meaning that there is no registration expiry date specified.
This situation has become increasingly common in recent years and the various registration authorities have developed different ways to record this on both business licenses and registration databases.
Here are some of the different ways the "expiry date" on open-ended operating periods can be specified:
Especially common on databases, the expiry date is set at a date unrealistically far into the future, meaning their registration is in effect open-ended. Examples of this include:
In recent years we have seen many business licenses where no data for the expiry date is given. The relevant space is either crossed out or left blank, like this:
Another way to display an open-ended operating period, which is becoming increasingly common is to replace the expiry date with a Chinese word which indicates this. Here are some examples we have seen:
Hi there, I'm Matt, the Founder & CEO of China Checkup. Originally from the UK, I am now based in Brisbane, Australia.
Frustrated by the scarcity of concise, high-quality and timely information about Chinese companies, I setup China Checkup whilst living in Shanghai in 2013.
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by Matt Slater
11 December 2020
View this comprehensive list of cities in China from Ankang to Zunyi!
We have included all cities in China that are either at, or above, prefecture-level and they are listed both alphabetically and grouped by province.
by Matt Slater
16 November 2020
This list of Chinese AMR websites includes links to the AMR branch website for each province/administrative region in China.
In case you're wondering, the acronym "AMR" stands for "Administration for Market Regulation", which is a newly-launched Chinese government agency created by the merger of many previous agencies, including the AIC and AQSIQ.
This super regulator is now responsible for a wide range of regulatory matters in Mainland China, so if you need to get in touch with them you should find this list of Chinese AMR websites useful.
by Matt Slater
10 November 2020
The China AEO Certificate is a document held by companies in China engaged in import and export activities.
Issued by China Customs, the certificate specifies the company's enterprise classification, which determines their level of inspections and more.
Requesting and verifying a supplier's China AEO certificate can be a sensible measure to understand if they are registered with China Customs as an "Authorized Economic Operator" and to check their AEO type.
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