Safer, Better Business in China

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Identify a China Certificate

How to Identify a China Certificate Without Knowing Chinese

by Matt Slater 04 March 2016

Doing business in China can be a very complex and overwhelming process, especially when you receive what you are told is a critical China certificate but are unable to read Chinese.

Most of the really important certificates you should understand and verify are only available in Chinese, so unless you can read the language, or know someone who does, it can be difficult to determine what each China certificate is for and what vital information it contains.

This is where this article comes in handy – we have prepared this guide to help non-Chinese speakers identify and understand the important China certificates that they receive from Chinese companies.

Techniques for Identifying a China Certificate Without Knowing Chinese

This page aims to provide a quick and easy guide to help you identify between the different China certificate types and to then help you understand the information they contain – even if you don’t know Chinese.

We introduce 2 methods that can help you achieve this.

Method 1: Compare with Certificate Images

Usually the quickest and easiest method is to compare the China certificate your supplier has sent you with standard images of certificates in our gallery below.

However, because the appearance of certificates often changes over time as new versions are produced (this is especially true of the China business license) this process can be a little hit-and-miss.

Another factor adding to the difficulty is that the appearance of some certificates can vary depending on the province or authority that issued them.

Method 2: Identify the Certificate Number

Although reading the text on a China certificate may not be possible (unless you read Chinese), it is still easy to make out the certificate number as these are nearly always written using just letters and numbers.

Various China certificate types contain one or more registration/license/certificate numbers which range from as few as seven to as many as twenty digits, all representing different things. At the end of this guide we list and explain the most common numbers so you can identify which China certificate they come from.

If a Chinese supplier has just told you their business registration number(s) without providing any certification, this method is also useful to you.

Does Your China Certificate Include English Text?

Fortunately, there are some common certificates which include English text so there is no need for us to include photos of these in this guide. Here are some China certificate examples which you may have come across:

  • Financial Registration for Enterprises With Foreign Investment Certificate
  • Certificate of Approval for Establishment of Enterprises with Foreign Investment in the People’s Republic of China
  • Clearance documents used for foreign trade such as Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin and Fumigation certificates
  • English versions of various management and product certification certificates such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, HACCP and CCC are nearly always provided

Compare You China Certificate with Our Certificate Images

View our China certificate gallery below and compare with the documents provided by your Chinese supplier.

Unfortunately, fake documentation is not uncommon in China, so if you require verification of any of these certificates make sure you check out our online verification services.

Business License Certificate (营业执照) Organization Code Certificate (中华人民共和国组织机构代码证) Bank Account Certificate (开户许可证)

Tax Registration Certificate (税务登记证) Trademark Registration Certificate (商标注册证) Customs Registration Certificate (海关进出口货物收发货人报关注册登记证书)

Foreign Trade Registration Certificate (对外贸易经营者备案登记表)

Identify Your China Certificate from the Number of Digits

If your Chinese supplier has provided you with a registration or license number but you aren’t sure what it is for, then hopefully the below guide will help.

Here we identify different China certificate numbers based on their length. Certificate numbers which are not of a standard length or form have not been included.

7 Digits

8 Digits

  • Hong Kong Business Registration Certificate Number (登記證號碼)
    • Comprised of 8 numerical digits, e.g. 20542646
      • This number is often be followed by a 3 digit branch code, e.g. 20542646-1005 and sometimes an additional 5 digits in the form 20542646-1005-12-13-1
    • Found on the Hong Kong Business/Branch Registration Certificate (商業/分行 登記證)
    • Verify a Hong Kong Company
  • Taiwan Company Registration Number (公司統一編號)
    • Comprised of 8 numerical digits, e.g. 20798719
    • Found on the Taiwan Company Registration Form (公司設立登記表)
    • Verify a Taiwan Company
  • Foreign Trade Registration Certificate Number (备案登记表编号)
    • Comprised of 8 numerical digits, e.g. 54300012
      • Note: this is not the foreign trade registration number, rather it is the number of the certificate itself
    • Found on the Foreign Trade Registration Certificate (对外贸易经营者备案登记表) – Further information
    • Verify this Certificate

9 Digits

  • China Organization Code (代码) [superseded by introduction of the 18 digit company registration number in 2015, but still in use]

10 Digits

  • China Customs Registration Certificate (海关注册登记编码)
    • Comprised of 10 numerical digits, e.g. 1234217876
    • Found on the China Customs Registration Certificate (中华人民共和国海关进出口货物收发货人报关注册登记证书) – Further information
    • Verify this Certificate

12 Digits

  • Bank Account Certificate Number (编号)
    • Comprised of 12 numerical digits usually found with a dash between the fourth and fifth numbers, e.g. 2900-01576296
    • Found on the Bank Account Certificate (开户许可证) – Further information
    • Verify this Certificate

13 Digits

  • Foreign Trade Registration Certificate Import and Export Enterprise Code (进出口企业代号)

14 Digits

  • China Bank Account Certificate Permit Number (核准号)
    • Comprised of 13 numerical digits and 1 alphabetical letter, where the first digit represents bank account type, digits 2-5 a location, 6-12 a serial number and 13-14 a revision number, e.g. J1234567890123
      • Note: this is not the bank account permit number, rather it is the number of the certificate itself
    • Found on the Bank Account Certificate (开户许可证) – Further information
    • Verify this Certificate

15 Digits

  • Tax Registration Certificate Number – Tax Code (税务号) [superseded by introduction of the 18 digit company registration number in 2015, but still in use]

18 Digits

  • China Resident ID Card Number (公民身份号码)
    • Comprises of 18 digits, where the first 5 digits represent address code, then the next 8 digits represent birth date code, followed by 3 digits representing order code and ended by a checksum digit, e.g. 110102YYYYMMDD888X
    • Found on a Chinese ID Card (居民身份证) – Further information 
  • Company Registration Number (统一社会信用代码)
    • Also known as "Unified Social Credit Code" (USCC) and "Unified Social Credit Indicator" (USCI)
    • Comprises of 18 numerical digits, , as explained here, where the first digit represents the department who issued the certificate, the second digit represents the type of registered entity, 3-8 digits represent the region where the certificate was registered, 9-17 represents the organization code, the last digit is a checksum digit which can also be a letter, e.g. 81310650569603174B
    • Found on new versions of the China Business License Certificate (营业执照) – Further Information
    • Verify this Certificate | Verify a China Company

20 Digits

  • Business License Certificate Number (证照编号)

Verify a China Certificate

Merely identifying which China certificate you have received doesn’t prove that the document is either current or genuine. China Checkup frequently verifies China certificates that are found to have been either adjusted or completely faked.


Verify a Chinese Certificate?

China Business License

Chinese Certificate Verification
Cost: $99 USD
Turnaround: 1 working day


Verify your China certificate with ease, view our convenient online verification services.

Matt Slater
Matt Slater


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.

My team are proud that China Checkup's company verification reports have now helped thousands of clients from all corners of the world to do business in China more safely.


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